The Task: Get rid of the microwave.
The Why: Why-oh-why would anyone in their right mind (that's debatable) get rid of their microwave? We have a number of reasons!
- We rarely use it. With the exception of frozen veggies (which I've always cooked on the stove anyways), I can count on my fingers the number of times we've bought something with "microwave directions" printed on the package. I want to get away from the notion that we have to have something just because everybody else seems to. We don't.
- I read once that you will use more energy in the life of your microwave powering the clock than actually heating things. It doesn't really make sense to us to have an appliance that is sucking energy in standby mode for 23 hours and 58 minutes every day. Especially since our kitchen doesn't need another clock.
- There are some serious reasons to be concerned about the health consequences of using a microwave oven. My friend Beth has a post on her blog listing a bunch of articles that swayed her, and eventually our, opinion of microwave ovens.
- And finally, food is not supposed to be fast. Part of simplifying for us is to see food for what it is and appreciate it in it's natural forms and to take the time to prepare it correctly and healthfully. The microwave oven just doesn't seem to mesh with our goals anymore.
Here are some of the things we formerly used our microwave for and how we are getting by without one:
- Melting butter or chocolate for a recipe: We will often use a small pot for this instead, and it isn't difficult or time consuming. My oven is electric and has a heat vent under one of the back burners, so if I have the oven on for another reason I can melt or soften butter in a bowl placed on that back burner without using any extra electricity at all!
- Reheating coffee: Reheated coffee really isn't stellar anyways. I'm trying to just drink my coffee while it's still hot, which with 5 kids demanding my attention isn't always successful. Sometimes, if our french press still has quite a bit of cooled coffee in it we will put it in a pitcher in the fridge and later make iced coffee with it. Yumm!
- Making microwave s'mores when nobody is looking: Don't judge me, I know you've done this too! But I've concluded that the inability to do this is probably a good development for my overall health.
- Heating leftovers: For things like soups I've discovered that it is actually much faster to reheat it in a pot than the microwave. Thicker things like casseroles I heat up in the oven, often alongside whatever I am making to accompany the left overs.
The Verdict: In retrospect, I'm not certain that the microwave was ever actually adding any convenience to our lives at all. And I really, really like the look of my kitchen without one!
We are doing one small thing every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!
We did this about 6 months ago and I haven't missed it! I thought we were the only people that had it on our fridge!!! Actually, reheated coffee on the stove isn't bad, way better than the microwave (just don't let it boil!)ReplyDelete
Hmmmm! I don't know about this one either. I have become used to and spoiled by microwave popcorn.ReplyDelete
My husband has been making our popcorn in a pot on the stove for pretty much forever. It comes out tasting like movie theater popcorn...soooo good!!! And really REALLY cheap!Delete
Yeah, I actually just recently gave up the microwave popcorn (not the microwave) because of the nasty stuff in the lining of the bag which is supposed to be really bad for you. Embarrassingly, I had never even realized all you needed was a pot, olive oil and crazy cheap kernals. At first though, I was paranoid about hot oil popping through the little spout on my pot that I wore sunglasses and oven mits (you have to keep shaking the pot.) Such a goober! (But not blinded by oil!)Delete
I have a popcorn setting on my microwave. I measure out the 3.5 oz of popcorn into a brown paper sandwich bag and pop it without any butter or oil. I think of this as a way to reduce extra fats.Delete
I have to admit that I am one of the Philistines that actually took a microwave camping. Yup. I'd frozen the meals, chili, pasta sauce, soups, etc. and used it to defrost them. The microwave was my best friend when it was me, a young one and an avid hiker who'd disappear right around food prep. time.
I have transitioned from plastic to glass and heating and eating from the same container saves on washing. I will try to be mindful of ways I can reduce its use. Thanks so much for bringing up topics that would not have occurred to me.
We live in England where there is NO space for things like microwaves. We did have one for a couple of years but it broke and we haven't replaced it and haven't missed it!! We also haven't had a dryer for the four years we've been in our house and we cope with that too. It can be done! :)ReplyDelete
Heating coffee, melting butter and heating frozen pancakes (from scratch then frozen), and defrosting meat are the top uses for the micro in my house. it's built-in, however and my kitchen would look pretty awful if it was gone. I guess the opposite of your problem. The last thing I would do is make micro popcorn. That stuff is awful for you. Truly it is. Get a pot out and put some coconut oil in it and make it on the stove. Much better and better for yoU!ReplyDelete
I am enjoying your 365 days of Less!
heat your frozen pancakes in the toaster! They are way better that way, taste more like fresh!Delete
That is what we do to! I make extra so we can have some in the freezer :)Delete
That's awesome that you are able to go without with your family! I use mine quite often- and it's built in, so there is no getting rid of it anyway!! Look forward each day to see what you're doing- and I hope to apply most of these changes to my life as well:)ReplyDelete
Here's a helpful hint for missing your microwave s'mores. I make them using my stove. I have done this with both an electric stove and a gas stove. Stick a marshmallow onto the tines of a fork. Turn on a burner and hold the marshmallow over the heat until it browns up or catches fire, whichever you prefer. The rest is the same as making a regular smore. It doesn't take long to toast the marshmallow so no worries about the fork burning your fingers. :)ReplyDelete
Yay! Ditching mine too. We just bought a smaller home that needs some kitchen remodeling and we have decided to not add a microwave. Just a few more weeks until we move in (I'm so excited to downsize our home by half!) I've been practicing no microwavemom for several weeks and it has been going great. We have an air popper for popcorn that gets used weekly, next to the crockpot it is our most used appliance.ReplyDelete
I'm really enjoying following your journey, thank you for sharing!
I want to get rid of mine, but the hubs isn't sold on the idea yet. They one thing I use it for that I would have to figure out is heating 'bean bags' - our heating packs with wheat or rice in them. Do you have ideas for that?ReplyDelete
I just put those rice packs on acookie sheet in the oven as an add bonus if your rice packs are scented it makes the whole room smell good!Delete
Mine was banned from the house when it started shooting fire one day. I didn't think my husband would go along with not replacing it, but it's been almost a year and no major complaints so far- and it was being used almost everyday.ReplyDelete
We ditched our microwave almost a year ago. We live in Southern California, where EVERYTHING is convenient and the frozen food aisles are double the size of the produce section. The hubby wasn't happy with idea, he wanted to know how we would reheat pizza (a grill pan with a little water to create stream and a lid; heats up quicker than a micro and the crust is crispy not mushy) I convinced him to give it ago by removing the micro from the kitchen and putting it in the garage. I promised him we would bring it back in if we noticed we really do need it. We got rid of it for good about 6 months ago. By not having it, it has saved us money because convenience foods typically cost more and it's not sucking up our electricity. I like reheating things in a pot on the stove with just a bit of water to create some steam. I can reheat leftovers in the same amount of time as the microwave that way and it also doesn't heat up the entire house by turning the oven on.ReplyDelete
My teens are the only ones who use the microwave here. I didn't have one for years and still don't use it. My 14 year old was reading this blog post with me and said she'd fling herself off the roof if I get rid of it. For now I'm keeping mine but it won't be replaced when it dies (which should be soon, it's old and makes noises like it's ready to give up the ghost)ReplyDelete
To try to save on hydro I unplug the microwave every time I walk by it. At least that way it's not sucking up electricity around the clock.
This post makes me smile.ReplyDelete
When my husband and I were first married, our hand-me-down microwave died and we never bought a new one. We lived for about a year until we received another hand-me-down from my in-laws.
I had gotten so used to warming leftovers, melting butter, etc. on the stove I never even use it now! We do have a toast oven too which my husband prefers when warming up pizza, sandwiches, etc.
I do like this idea. I already try to use my microwave as little as possible. Perhaps instead of going cold turkey and getting rid of it, I will try a week, or two, or a month without using it...?ReplyDelete
Oh also - I LOVE my toaster oven and often use it to reheat things like slices of pizza. It takes less energy than heating up the big oven and it doesn't take but a few minutes to heat something up.ReplyDelete
We got rid of ours about 8 months ago and one of my friends got us an awesome convection oven for our wedding.ReplyDelete
To be honest, I do everything in the convection oven or the stovetop. (Although I'd have to clean out the oven if there were five of us, I'm sure!) I thought I might miss the microwave but I'd already been cutting back on using it after reading about the health risks with it.
We thought we might miss it for quick leftover reheats, but even though it takes a little longer, the reheats in the oven preserve the flavor and texture so much better than my microwave ever did!
Pop that little s'more in your oven on low broil for a minute or so.. Heaven! :)ReplyDelete
Stole the words right outta my mouth! (Oh, and by the way, have you tried peanut butter or nutella on s'mores? Divine!)Delete
I haven't had a microwave for three years now, they really aren't as convenient as everyone wants to believe although i did get a toaster oven at the beginning of the year and I love it!ReplyDelete
ooh, I've thought about getting rid of the microwave, but not sure we can do it yet.ReplyDelete
Kelly, what about heating baby food? I know, I would NEVER think to do that, but I've seen so many people do it, from boiling water in the microwave to add pouridge powder to warming bottles of baby food.
A glass feeding bottle you can put in hot water to warm up the milk, but now the baby bottles are plastic.
So what does one do?
Ieva, all the recommendations I have read have said to NEVER heat babies food or milk in the microwave! I've never used the microwave for that either.Delete
Thanks for the reply! :)Delete
Here in Sweden it's so common to use the microwave for kids' food. IKEA restaurants have microwaves that you can use to heat up your kids' food, and it's also totally normal to give a bottle of baby food to a barista to heat up when you're out having coffee.
So, say one has a bottle of milk left. You put it in the fridge, and then, when it's time to feed the baby again, how would you heat it?
That's what tea pots are for right? Heating water? The water doesn't have to be super hot to do the job when it comes tobaby stuff so the bottle in a mug of hit water should still work even if it's plastic, although plastic products haber so many bad byproducts more than just bpa that I've made it a point to switch most of my baby and kid stuff for glass our metal. . . It lasts longer and re sells for more when you're done with it.Delete
I Just realized how snotty that sounded it really wasn't meant to be snotty!Delete
As for sweden, I would ask for a mug of hot water to reheat baby food with. It works about as fast as the micro and much less dangerous as there would be no way to have hidden"hot spots"in baby's meal, which seems to be the biggest reasonit's not recommended. I possibly think there are more dangers to it, but if we worry about every danger all the time, even out and about, we aren't putting our faith where it belongs are we?
It might be possible to buy glass baby bottles.Delete
I'd heat the milk in a canning jar, pyrex or anchor measuring cup, something that can take heat. Put something in the saucepan to keep the jar off the bottom, a vegetable steamer with the handle removed is probably easiest to find.
My grandson's daycare keeps a small crockpot filled with water, on medium high. When a baby needs a bottle, they pop it into the hot water for a few minutes, give it a good shake and it's ready.Delete
I dunno...Some things just don't re-heat as well on the stove or oven. Also reheating in the oven takes FOREVER. Sometimes it takes the amount of time it takes would be enough to make a fresh meal, so convenience of leftovers is gone.ReplyDelete
Not trying to change anyone's mind, just I think moderate use of microwave oven is ok for our home :)
I agree that food should not be fast...But sometimes it helps. Me and my husband are in college full-time and I'd really rather spend more time with my 2 year old then stand in front of the cooker for ages. We concentrate on quick home-made meals that are still delicious as leftovers later.
It really depends on lifestyle and priorities...We are planning to relocate to the countryside in a couple of years and I'm looking forward to many years of SLOW food then...Just not now :))
I think microwaves can help some people simplify...I'm thinking of a family that is very dear to me which has 2 working parents and currently feel so exhausted at the end of the day that they eat fast food or take out almost every night. A microwave would be an incredibly useful tool for them if they could start transitioning into freezer cooking and quickly reheating when they get home. For them, that would be simplifying.Delete
yep, Cori, thanks for understanding what I was clumsily trying to say! :) Simplifying can look very different in different households.Delete
(also my bottom of the range microwave does not have a clock...so it does absolutely nothing unless it's actually on, which helps to save electricity)
We didnt have one, then bought a house with one built in. I dont know how long it will last here once my husband returns. But right now, it is keeping me sane. I miss my home cooked meals, and things being slow. Life isnt always easy, so try to make it survivable.ReplyDelete
I applaud you, but this is one I'm not going to get on board with right now. There was a time when we used to use our toaster oven WAY more than our microwave, but we can't seem to get our toaster ovens to last very long anymore. I think it's because they are so cheaply made now (and no, I do not buy a cheap one, either!). I don't use a microwave a ton, but I do use it to reheat things- we eat a lot of leftovers, which is how we stretch our budget so far.ReplyDelete
And since I am currently dishwasherless and going dryer-LESS for the month (and probably longer), my microwave is a priority right now. Also, I do share my kitchen with 3 other people (my husband- who easily does 50% of the cooking because he enjoys is, and he uses it some) and also my 2 kids, age 13 & 10, use it occasionally. The kids don't use it a lot, but I feel it's safer for them to use the microwave rather than our stove & unpredictable toaster oven. (Which reminds me that I really should be teaching them how to cook more... )
I will add that my husband makes awesome popcorn on the stove... but he melts the butter in the microwave, LOL! (I am the naughty one that makes microwave popcorn for the kids!)
I will give living without a microwave some thought for down the road, though. I'll start with microwaving less & see where it goes... :-)
I'm starting to think that I would use my microwave much less if I had a better toaster oven, so maybe I just need an upgrade. Can anyone recommend a good toaster oven that is currently being made in the US? Thanks!Delete
I love my toaster oven! So far I've only had it since January, but I have caught it on fire twice and it still works great! (operator error, not toasters fault!) It's a kitchenaid, they sell it at most target stores in the us. . . Mine even came with a warranty!Delete
Thanks! The one we are currently using was a gift and it's a black & decker. It's a little awkward to use & it's just not what we would have picked out for our family. In fact, we hardly use it- I used it the other night to reheat homemade pizza & was reminded of how much I miss using it. I know my mother-in-law meant well when she bought it for us because she knew we'd been without one for over a year (it was because we couldn't find one we liked, LOL!! Ah, well...)Delete
My biggest fear with toaster ovens is fire, although we have never had any catch on fire (yet they still break!!) I have a sister who refuses to use one because of fire and another sister who uses hers constantly (and she has the same issues we do- they stop working!)
I will definitely check out the Kitchenaid one. And the warranty because with our luck, we will probably need it!!
My parents always keep a toaster oven. They expect them not to last long, so they never spend a lot of money. They buy one of the cheap models or one from a thrift store and if it dies, they replace it. But they have been pleasantly surprised with some cheapies that have lasted 5+ years. More money does not seem to make for better quality.Delete
Just found your blog via Facebook!! I am SO excited to find you!! My husband and I have been on the quest to live more simply and have a small (3 acre) mini homestead in rural Southeastern Virginia. We have had a garden for the past four years now, have a cloths line (that I sometimes use), got our first flock of 10 chickens this spring, just made the switch to cloth napkins, and are seeking to simplify our life, grow as much of our own food as we can, and pair down A LOT!! So, THANK YOU!! Your blog is inspiring and convicting! I share your beliefs and also feel that we have way too much and do not give enough! I will definitely be following your yearlong journey, and probably join in with much of it! Blessings to you and your family!ReplyDelete
where is that like button when you need it! That is my husband and my dream! Right now we live in one of the biggest cities in the country and dream of the day when we can take our girls and start life on a homestead!Delete
Look up "Contigo coffee mug" on Amazon. It is the BEST mug, we drink out of them at home rather than regular coffee cups. First of all, they are completely spill proof (my son has actually dropped mine down a flight of stairs and it didn't spill). Secondly, they keep coffee hot for HOURS. I'm not kidding, I was SHOCKED the first time I used mine. I know you don't want to buy one more thing, but it's worth it!ReplyDelete
Holly, we had those, and a friend did too, and they are AWESOME! Until gunk starts building up in the lid. We didn't have a dishwasher at the time and could NOT get them clean or keep them clean. Same with our friend. We all ended up trashing them. How do you manage to clean all up in there?Delete
We're keeping our microwave because I think it is actually more energy efficient than other means (for us). We live in south Texas where it is really hot all the time and our air conditioner groans. Heating up the oven for leftovers heats the entire kitchen - and the entire first floor. The a/c groans louder. We steam those veggies in the microwave because it is cooler than making steam on the stove (I have a tupperware microwave steamer - I do occasionally use the bags, but not generally). We use our crock pot. Maybe I should give up our oven instead.... I don't mean any of this as criticism, just discussion.ReplyDelete
I'm in Texas too. I've read about solar ovens... They should work pretty well here! And completely free too.Delete
I have been debating this for awhile. The only thing is leftovers. I understand you can use the oven, it just seems like a lot since the oven would have to be on for a long time to reheat certain things. Also microwavable popcorn...we have a lot of it right now...so maybe some day we'll switch to the stove popcorn? What are your suggestions for putting leftovers in the oven? Doesn't it use a lot of energy to keep the oven on long enough to reheat things?ReplyDelete
I guess it depends on your situation. I never seem to have enough leftovers to feed us for a whole second meal,so normally I've got the oven on anyways to make something to accompany the leftovers, in which case the leftovers heating in the oven as well are using no extra energy.Delete
This is one I can't see joining you on. I do many things on the stove/oven, and have an air popper, but I get a lot of use out of my microwave. And I like it. I specifically make things to microwave! Like a big batch of baked potatoes for me to have as a snack or lunch when the rest of the family is having something else. Or those 15 seconds to heat up a single muffin from the fridge. I know a toaster oven can be awesome, and I grew up always having a micro AND a toaster oven in house. But for my lifestyle right now, simplifying means I choose between the toaster oven and microwave. And I felt like while my big oven could do all that the toaster oven could do, the microwave could do a wider variety of things and with greater speed. I will still heat many leftovers in the oven and I will still make quesadillas on the stove, but I get regular, daily use from my nuker. I have seen negative reports from it and I have seen positive reports (that it retains the nutrients of veggies better than steaming), and I have also seen my 6th grade science teacher measure the amount of radiation around the outside of one when it is running. So I use it, and I don't stand too close!ReplyDelete
we've already done this too. To convince my hubby, I asked that we just "try" it out for a month, with the microwave sitting conveniently under the table. We heat leftovers either on the stovetop or in a toaster oven. Tastes so much better. I didn't even realize that it used that much energy...that explains why our bill has been lower;oP Also, love the extra space too!!!ReplyDelete
I applaud you for trying, but I think I'll keep mine. In terms of energy usage - you are right that you use way more in the microwave being on standby, but the actual reason for it is because microwaves are so energy efficient (compared to a stove top or oven) in heating. They work by exciting water molecules so do not waste lots of energy heating the air, provided it is fairly dry air, but even still it is a lot more efficient heat-exchange. However, I don't in general like cooking in it because it doesn't taste as nice, but there are a few things I do do. Re-heating leftovers (I have a freezer full to stop me buying ready meals). Yes there are hot spots, but you should always stir it before serving. Cooking frozen peas takes 30 seconds with just a drop of water. Waaaaay longer on the stove top. Oh and defrosting things that I should have got out of the freezer earlier in the day (yes I'm totally disorganised!!). I probably use mine on average for about 2 minutes per day. The rest of the time it is off at the wall socket (however I have a feeling switches on the sockets are really only found in the UK). All my appliances go off at the wall with the exception of the kettle which doesn't have a 'standby' mode and is therefore not a fire hazard. Doing this has halved my electricity bill!! Anyway, hopefully I this doesn't sound grumpy, but I thought I'd just add my tuppence worth.ReplyDelete
And Kelly... totally keep the ideas coming. I love this blog (more than your imperfect housekeeping.... am I allowed to say that ?!).
I've never seen a wall socket with a switch! That is great! I wish we had them here :)Delete
We haven't had a microwave for years. While we're not super health-nuts, both DH and I agree that we prefer not to have our food irradiated! (Just our opinion, no offense!) Our house has a spot where the microwave is supposed to be built in - it makes a fabulously handy and attractive cookbook shelf!!ReplyDelete
Absolutely the only time I even think about wishing we had one is to heat up those beanbag thingies that you wrap around your neck or put on your back. We make our popcorn the old fashioned and delicious way (on the stove) and leftovers are gently heated on the stovetop.
ooo... a challenge that hits my heart! Your last post really spoke to me, and made me think about the point of simplifying, and all the comments have really helped me. Having a microwave when I was a full-time grad student who worked two full-time jobs, saved me a lot of headaches, and helped me to eat at home, and not swing though the drive-through. Now that I am in a real career, I think this is something I need to do. It is sitting in my heart, with the kind of presence that tells me God is speaking here. (On the other hand, I may have to hang on to it, for the sake of my parents who visit regularly, and have sever food allergies. They bring their own frozen food, which they reheat in the microwave. Maybe it will live in a closet, to come out when they visit?)ReplyDelete
I am convincing my hubby that we should atleast put the microwave in storage for 3-6 months and see how we do. I honestly don't remember the last time either of us used the microwave for anything other than a clock, except while heating water to clean the stove/oven in months, but the hubby is still convinced we can not live with out. I will be unplugging our microwave this week, and here's to hoping it goes straight from storage to someone else's home. :)ReplyDelete
The only time I use the microwave is to heat my coffee cup up first before I pour my coffee. I used to buy microwave popcorn but have since switched back to the old fashioned pop stovetop kettle kind (and add melted butter).ReplyDelete
Brilliant. My husband and I barely use our microwave - for the first five months that we were married we didn't have one so I got used to not using one. I tentatively broached this idea with him tonight and right away he was like "Yeah, let's get rid of it! Stupid thing takes up too much counter space anyway!" So, we'll be starting off with it in the basement, and if we really don't find that we miss it, we'll be purging it out of the house. Thanks for the inspiration (and the extra counter space!!)ReplyDelete
Your post was shocking but made me think a lot and we also Ditched the microwave. The funniest thing has been training kids. My 16 year old was cooking and actually asked me how to melt butter (with no microwave)....lol. My 9 year old had leftovers all ready to put in the microwave and stood there confused; staring at the empty counter (probably a good week or two after the microwave left). I feel good about the decision and now prefer my hot cocoa on the stove and today we made delicious stovetop popcorn :)ReplyDelete
We stopped using ours a year ago for the health reasons mentioned. I already had a toaster oven, so I just switched to using that to reheat leftover food or melt butter. I also use it to bake smaller items and save money if I don't need to fire up the large oven. Plus, I don't need a toaster!ReplyDelete
We haven't had a microwave since ours died about 7 years ago...I don't miss it at ALL!ReplyDelete