Learning to Live Without a Microwave

I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of a Luddite in the kitchen. I don’t own a Kitchenaid stand mixer, a food processor or an electric can opener. I do own a Crockpot, which I love, and I grudgingly keep a toaster on the counter because my husband loves toast. But that’s about it – and it shocks most people to hear we don’t own a microwave. My mother in law actually volunteered about half a dozen times to buy us a new one when we first got rid of the one we had a few years ago.

We have a small apartment kitchen where counter space is at a premium. In our old apartment, we literally had about three feet of counter and the microwave used to take up two of that. On top of space issues, we found that we really only used the microwave to heat water for tea and coffee, parcook potatoes and defrost meat for dinner. That wasn’t enough to justify keeping one in our opinion, so we made the decision to get rid of it.

We did have to make a few adjustments in how we planned meals and reheated leftovers, but none of them were difficult or really made a noticeable difference in our day to day lives. Instead of relying on the microwave to defrost meat and such for dinner, we now think about what we’d like to have the evening before so we can put it in the refrigerator to defrost for twenty four hours before we need it. You don’t necessarily need to plan out a whole meal or dish doing this – you just need to think about which meat product you’ll eat. If you forget to defrost something the night before, fish is a good choice – you can defrost it under running water in the sink enough to cook with for about thirty minutes. Or you can make something with canned tuna, bacon or ham you might already have in the fridge, or even have a meatless meal (which doesn’t hurt a few times per week anyway – meat at every meal can be a bit much).

Reheating leftovers is just as easy on the stovetop, and in my opinion you get better texture and browning as well. For things like pastas, stews or soups simply reheat it on low on the stovetop with a little liquid – stock, wine or water all work equally as well – just choose the liquid that complements the flavor of the original dish. For casseroles, meats, eggrolls, potatoes and such put them in the oven for about fifteen minutes at 350. The benefit here is that you get a crispy, crunchy skin by reheating in the oven – none of the flimsy, gross crusts or wrappers you’d get in the microwave (eggrolls and fries are the best examples).

Parcooking potatoes for hash browns, breakfast potatoes and potato salads really stumped me at first until I realized that housewives everywhere have been parcooking for centuries – in boiling water. Just boil your potatoes for 10-15 minutes until they’re a third to half done then continue on with your recipe as you normally would. It doesn’t take any longer, since most recipes recommend parcooking in the microwave for the same amount of time.

And what about hot water for tea and coffee? We have an electric teakettle (that we got for free) or you could just as easily get a tea kettle for the stovetop.

We feel better about the way we eat and not having a giant appliance we rarely use cluttering up the kitchen since we’ve gotten rid of the microwave. Give it some thought – if you’re using it only for the same reasons we were, you might be just fine (or even better!) without it.

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3 thoughts on “Learning to Live Without a Microwave

  1. I can totally relate. After moving to our new house, we didn’t have a microwave for about a year—and really didn’t miss it. (Everyone thought we were crazy and yes, relatives offered us microwaves). I forgot why we finally bit the bullet and got one…but it’s tiny, was cheap, and we still barely use it…

    (I agree on the quality of stove/oven reheated leftovers!!)

  2. I totally want to get rid of our microwave. The only thing we still regularly use it for is to heat up our morning’s instant oatmeal. Otherwise it sits there as a convenience in case we forget to defrost something in the fridge, or we get tired of waiting for the grill to finish a big cut of meat.

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