Until I was 12, I always remembered a microwave in our home. As our family began our quest for better health, tossing the microwave was inevitable. In no time, living without a microwave became the new norm.
In 1998 we hardly knew what the internet was, we didn’t have subscriptions to health magazines and we weren’t up on the latest trends to know that microwaves were under scrutiny.
Several well-meaning friends and customers of ours found out about my mom’s kidney disease and advised she get rid of the microwave.
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The final straw came when a stomach cancer survivor came along and shared with us that his oncologist told him at his diagnosis to throw out his microwave.
So we threw out the microwave.
I can’t say that it was crippling for our family. Our microwave was an old beast on its last leg anyways so we weren’t super attached to it. We never bought things like microwave popcorn or microwave dinners.
My mom was (and is) an excellent cook and enjoys it so all our meals were prepared on the stove or in the oven anyway.
Plus, getting rid of that bulky thing freed up a whole corner of counter space for a busy family of six.
How We Missed a Microwave the Most
We had to begin thinking ahead. This meant always having another stick of butter on the plate softening to spread bread. And during the winter, just keeping a pound of butter on the countertop so it would be ready to throw into a batch of cookies someone wanted to whip up.
Our old farm house didn’t have air conditioning so keeping butter on the counter all the time during the summer was out of the question. But we soon learned to plan ahead a few hours and throw a couple sticks on the counter to soften.
And Mom’s caramel popcorn.
Her recipe was quick to whip up because you just poured the caramel over the popcorn in a paper bag, shook it and microwaved. Shook and microwaved. Shook and microwaved one last time and then it was done.
Without a microwave we had to make caramel corn in the oven. Not a huge deal, but it still took longer.
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To clarify: I have a microwave today.
Yep. I do.
When my husband and I got married and were furnishing our first house, I didn’t care whether we had a microwave or not.
During our first year of marriage, I was gone a lot. I was still wrapping up training at a previous job in my hometown. And I had quite a few weddings and other trips planned. All of which left my husband at home to fend for himself.
We got a microwave for the convenience of it. My husband could eat more than toast and sandwiches while I was gone.
Even though I’m home a lot more now, we still have a microwave. I’ll use it every day for a week and then I might go three weeks without using it. It all depends on what’s going on in our lives.
Old habits die hard so I still have butter sitting out on the counter most days. I have two butter dishes so when one starts to get low I put a stick on the other one so it gets soft.
When I’m cooking or baking, melting butter on the stove is just as fast or faster than melting it in the microwave. Bonus: no splattering and exploding!
9 Tips for Living Without a Microwave
Our double boiler that sat in the back of our cupboard of pots and pans and only got used once a year to melt chocolate came to the forefront. We reheated many leftovers in the double boiler so it stayed on the stove at all times.
Today I use my double boiler to reheat food sometimes, but mostly I just use a regular pan.
We had heavy bottomed pans so reheating leftovers without sticking or burning is a breeze. I just add some liquid (milk or broth or water) and put my food in. Place a lid on top and set the burner on low. I just have to have more patience.
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I use cast iron skillets to reheat foods that need grease for reheating. Pizza reheated in a cast iron skillet gets a delicious, buttery crunch to the crust. Quiche or noodles are the best reheated in a skillet, too.
One place I lived while I was single just had a toaster oven in the “kitchen.” [My kitchen was a sink, a fridge, a tortilla maker and a toaster oven.] I used that toaster oven to reheat everything. It takes a lot longer than reheating on the stove top, but it was what I had and it worked.
Next to my stove top, the oven is the second most used place I heat leftovers. I will use the settings on my stove to set a future start time and then put my food in. I don’t have to be home all afternoon to have hot leftovers for supper.
Anything that has a crispy top (like casseroles) I reheat in the oven. If I need to re-crisp the top I just turn on the broiler.
A lot of moms ask how I would heat baby bottles without a microwave. It’s so easy to pop a container of water in the microwave, heat it and then set the bottle in the heated water.
I have an electric tea kettle. It usually has water in it so I just hit the button and in a minute or less I have boiling water to heat the baby bottle. And no risk of the water exploding when I open the microwave!
My tap water is very hot so I use it like I would water from an electric kettle. I heat bottles in it. I set a dish of egg whites in hot water to bring them to room temperature. And I used it to warm bowls of baby food.
Popcorn Popper or a Kettle on the Stove
If you don’t want another appliance sitting around, just make popcorn on the stove top. You can use a regular pan or one of these cool poppers.
Living without a microwave really isn’t that bad. It saves you space in the kitchen and is one less appliance to suck your money. With a little bit of planning ahead, creativity and patience you won’t even miss a microwave.
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