Life without a microwave

by Karen on September 16, 2008

Yesterday, Kelly at Almost Frugal Food wrote a post about heating and reheating food without a microwave. Like Kelly, I don’t have a microwave, and I don’t want one. So I thought I’d throw in my two cents and tips on the topic.

Cutting the microwave out of your life is a great way to improve your diet. My husband used to live predominantly on microwaveable food in college. Generally, the stuff is pretty bad for you.

Cooking without a microwave is also better for your budget. Convenience foods, which come complete with high-tech packaging designed to make them taste less like microwaved food, are also a drain on the budget. Cooking with whole foods from scratch is much more economical than packaged convenience foods designed for microwave cooking.

I’ve also just never been completely comfortable with the idea of microwaves, to be honest. The idea of toxins and carcinogens being released by heating plastic in the microwave is more than a little disconcerting. Am I being paranoid? Probably. But I can live with that.

The bigger issue is that I hate the way food tastes when it’s heated or reheated in a microwave. It always comes out with a chewy, dry consistency. For the longest time I thought I hated leftover pizza. Turns out I just hated the way it tasted when it was reheated in a microwave.

Many people react with shock and horror when I tell them I don’t have a microwave. “How do you reheat anything?!” It’s like the entire fabric of their universe is crashing down on them.

I’ve never understood why people are so horrified by the idea of life without a microwave. The truth is, there’s nothing a microwave can do that a stove top or conventional oven can’t do better. It takes a little more time, but the tastier results are worthwhile.

Soups and pastas can be reheated simply by throwing them into a pot or skillet over medium-low heat on the stove top. Pizza, casseroles, and lasagna can be reheated for 10-20 minutes in a 300-350 degree oven.

Need to defrost meat? Refer to your menu plan before you go to bed, and place the meat you’ll need for tomorrow’s dinner into the refrigerator to thaw for 24 hours. Forgot to take your chicken breast out of the freezer last night? It happens. Just put it in a bowl in the sink with slow, steady stream of cool water trickling into the bowl. It’ll thaw in about 20 minutes.

The only thing we can’t make is microwave popcorn. No big deal. We buy stove top Jiffy Pop. It’s more fun anyway. :)

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{ 4 comments }

1 Amy H October 17, 2008 at 9:58 am

I am very pleased to see this column. As someone who has never owned a microwave, except for the time my father brought one home as a gift for my mother, and I went kicking and screaming to my room in protest. This was around the same time that I moved out of my house to live in a tent while my mother insisted on installing carpet in my bedroom. Blame it on the environmental movement of my generation, but I’ve never had a need for a microwave or a television, answering machine or car telephone for that matter. It drives my friends crazy, but my reasons go beyond the quality of my food, radiation exposure or the expense. I worry about the availability of these low quality products and how they tend to be disposable and ultimately end up in our landfills just as soon as a new, smaller or more efficient model is released. As my mother now says: “If it’s convenient, it’s probably not good for you.”
Thanks for your website! ~ Amy H. Newport, RI

2 Marsha M October 22, 2008 at 2:06 pm

I’m so jealous! I did not want a microwave but my husband’s grandmother got us one anyway. Now I find myself using it occasionally meanwhile hating the loss of space…someday it will disappear but not while we live next door to the grandmother!

3 Ninette April 10, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I have no issues with most of the reasons to do away with microwaves. The one issue I do have is that of how much additional power and therefore money is required to heat and run a conventional oven to heat or reheat food. Plus, if you need to heat and use an oven in the summer, it heats up your kitchen and house even more. All of this seems environmentally detrimental. The microwave seems a perfect answer for this facet… it doesn’t heat up the house and does its job in a fraction of the time of a stovetop or conventional oven, therefore using less power/money.

4 Karen April 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

I use a toaster oven instead of conventional oven to avoid too much heat/power when reheating small things. Otherwise, the stovetop works fine.

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