Life without a microwave

When faced with a serious illness. it’s amazing how much easier it becomes to give up certain things. Our microwave was one of those things.

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer last spring, it was one of the first things to go. We had already been in the process of changing a lot of things (food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.) but the microwave was one that we had been procrastinating on.

I have never read any absolutely firm evidence (i.e. truly scientific, extremely reputable studies) that microwaves are harmful to our health or that they are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). I imagine that even if such a study was performed, it’s results would be kept very much under wraps by those who have money to be made. I have read many very educated opinions, as well as much intelligent speculation, that microwaves may possibly be very dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible. Even before getting rid of ours, I kept my daughter away from it when it was on, and I always tried to stand a few feet away as well.

Here are just a couple of articles I found online, discussing the dangers and studies done on the use of microwaves:

I am not going to try to convince you that you should all immediately go and throw your microwaves in the dumpster. However, I do think that it is worth reading about, and worth considering how you could learn to go without!

Here are a few tips that I have learned as I have gone back to the good old days of not being able to just nuke my food:

  • If you forget to take your meat out to thaw it, put it in a sink full of cool water. It’s not as fast, but it definitely thaws faster (and safer) than just sitting on the counter. Sometimes I just adjust my cooking time to the fact that my meat isn’t perfectly thawed.
  • Ground meat can be cooked frozen- simply flip it from side to side over medium heat, and each time scrape off the portion that has thawed.
  • Use a toaster oven to re-heat leftovers, instead of heating the whole oven. Ours came with a small tray that works great for a meal sized amount of food.
  • A pot or pan on the stove is such a fast way to re-heat soups, stews, stir-fries, etc.
  • Infant’s milk and food should never be microwaved (it decreases nutrients, as well as heats unevenly and creates pockets where heat and steam are trapped). I try to remember to take out frozen baby food in the morning and leave it on the counter to thaw by lunch or dinner (unless it’s meat or dairy). Lately I’ve been using a ceramic bowl in the toaster oven to heat it slightly. Running a glass jar under hot running water works well, as does boiling a small pot or pan with water and putting the bowl of food inside (note- this only works if your child is not feeding themselves out of the bowl- if they are, make sure to transfer the warmed food to a cool bowl before serving it).
  • For hot beverages, use a kettle for hot water or else heat the beverage in a pot on the stove. I make amazing frothy milk for lattes by heating it on the stove, and then pumping it up and down in a french press.
  • Please, don’t use microwave popcorn (if not for any other reason than that the oils that make it taste buttery are terrible for you)! Get an old fashioned corn popper from a thrift store or garage sale, or just use an old camping pot on the stove top. Melt your butter on the stove, or in the nifty little compartment on top of the popper.

Not owning a microwave helps me to think ahead about my meal planning and thawing food from the freezer. I’ve gotten so used to preparing our food on the stove and in the oven, and in fact, I wouldn’t really even want to eat soggy, nuked food anymore!

Has anyone else given up their microwave? Please share your tips for thawing, heating and re-heating foods!

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  1. I agree! We haven’t ditched our microwave yet because we are living at my bro-in-laws house and its his microwave! 🙂 I’d love to replace our microwave with a toaster oven for quick small heating that doesn’t turn bread into tough leather! (some one I’m related to microwaves EVERYTHING right before she puts it on the table, homemade bread rolls, steaks, etc after it is cooked. One time I accidently shouted “No!” as she was about to put my bread in the microwave! All health aside–why put soft delicious homemade bread in a rubber making box?? :)) Anyway I’d also like to get a couple smaller sauce pans to heat up small amounts of liquid quickly. The problem that I forsee is getting my husband to stop using it; I suppose a good answer to this is to have all my meals planned out and ready so that he never has to scrounge for food and nuke it. 🙂 I wish there was more studies done into microwaves and food!

  2. Still using a microwave… but I’ll be reading those articles.

    Knowing it is bad to even inhale the microwave popcorn chemicals, I simply use my pasta pot. I put it on the stove with a tablespoon or two of oil in it, and by the time I get the popcorn seeds out of the cabinet, its hot enough to add them. Then I add about 1/8 c. seeds per serving and simply shake the pot back and forth on my cooktop. (I don’t worry much about scratching – its just a part of the life of the stovetop, but I don’t think it scratches it, anyway). Five minutes later, with shaking it several times a minute, I have popcorn. I throw in a pat of butter and shake the pot up and down, holding the cover on and we have popcorn! It takes some people time to get used to the soggy spots from the butter in non-microwave popcorn, but now we are all used to it, and like them 🙂

    1. @Jenny, Sorry, should add that I use a LID during the whole process, lol.

      And I like not having a dedicated popcorn appliance/pot taking up space in my kitchen. Happy cooking!

  3. We had a trial No Micro run a year ago. We put it into the garage for 4 weeks and if it was too hard we’d s imply put it back in the house and plug it in again. We have found that reheating with a veggie steamer pot insert to be so quick and easy to clean that it is now our most used pan! It reheats rice, pasta, meats and veggies quickly and with no sticking to our cast iron pans. We reheat crispy things in the cast iron. Recently we had pangs of guilt when a hurricane ravaged our neighboring towns and we donated the micro to someone who ‘needed’ it. Loosing it has been quite easy for us! A trial run is the way to go, it is then no big deal to give it up or bring it back.

  4. We gave up our microwave when we moved last summer. We had installed a microwave/range hood in our old house, and since we couldn’t take it with us, we’ve decided to go without. Like you, we use the toaster over, stovetop and oven to reheat food. Glass pyrex dishes are great for toaster oven use! I still use the microwave for my lunch at work, because it’s the only option for heating food. I just ate microwaved pizza for lunch, in fact… not nearly as good as toaster oven pizza.

  5. How family has been without a microwave for over 5 years! Hooray! Our family of four doesn’t miss it and love the lack of microwaves in our home and in our food. To be honest, our last one blew up and we just never replaced it.
    There are lots of up-sides and the health links demonstrate that, but how do we get around the down sides? There are more dishes — especially pots and pans from reheating. If something is in a casserole dish (say enchiladas), I cover it with foil and put it in the oven for 30 min at 350. Sometimes I have to put a couple teaspoons of water in it so it doesn’t dry out. Other things are warmed in a pot or with the steamer basket. Cold coffee? Add a little water to the coffeepot and brew again or add some boiling water to the cup. Cold pizza? Toss it in the oven with foil or in a covered dish.
    Right now I am warming up yesterdays pancakes in a covered dish for breakfast.
    Final nod, you’ll be happy to not have a cupboard filled with what we call “stupid food” – instant microwave meals that are so bad for you.
    I hope you love NOT having a microwave as much as we do.
    (Next step for us, finish getting rid of plastic storage containers and replace with glass.)

  6. We are also anti-microwavers! They are terrible for you and make food taste bad. It is a bit more work to live without one, but we know that it’s worth it!
    We do have a microwave though, even though we both want it gone! It is built-in over our stove. We’d love to take it out and replace it with a fancy hood. But that costs money… it’s on the list for “someday.” But a pro is that it is the one part of our house that is always clean! (Because we never use it)

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