Living Better in 2011 – Removing the Microwave

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No, we aren’t crazy.

Well, maybe a little bit.

It has been almost 2 months since I relegated the microwave to the garage, and I can honestly say we don’t miss it!

{image credit}

How It All Started

In early January, Shane and I were skyping, discussing things we wanted to change and work on, when I brought up the microwave.

I have always known it was dangerous, and probably did weird things to our food. (Seriously, WHY did our mothers tell us, “Don’t stand in front of the microwave while it is on, it isn’t good for you!”???)

If you can’t stand in front of it, there has to be some danger to it, right?

Shane confessed he had been thinking something similar, and that having a microwave was probably causing harm to our bodies.

After our convo, I went to the kitchen, cleaned out the microwave and banished it to the garage.

Needless to say, poor Shane was almost dumbstruck at my efficient removal of said appliance, and asked, “How am I going to heat up milk for oatmeal?”

I showed him, with as straight a face as I could muster, how we could heat it up in a pan on the stove.

Fast-forward Two Months (give-or-take)

We have lugged the microwave back into the kitchen for only a few occasions, with most of them being to heat up microwave-only Lean Cuisine dinners (I’m not one for wasting things we already have).

Everything is heated up on the stove, in the oven, or in our toaster oven, and it works. Quite well, I might add.

We truly do not miss any convenience or time that our microwave might have saved us. It really doesn’t take that much longer to heat things up “the old-fashioned way.”

And, our food tastes better!

Bonuses

  • Better-tasting food.
  • No more “convenience food” purchases. I am already making more real food purchases and meals, which is so much better for our health!
  • A reduction in “vampire power.” By not having a microwave plugged in 24/7, we are reducing the amount of “standby power,” or “vampire power,” electricity. (Because really, who actually unplugs their microwave after every use?!?! I know we didn’t!)
  • More counter space. Our microwave was a ginormous, massive thing and it took up quite a bit of counter space. With the amount of cooking, baking, and general mess-making I do in the kitchen, the extra space is definitely a blessing for me!

Disadvantages

  • It takes longer to heat up food and water for tea.
  • I miss heating up my rice packs for my neck and shoulders.

Honestly, those are the only disadvantages I can think of… and the first one is only a blip for me. It really doesn’t take that much longer.

As always, this is what our family is doing to live better. This is what works for our family. I realize this isn’t for everyone, and I am simply sharing what we are up to in our Journey to Living Better.

*Full disclosure: Our family did not use the microwave to cook everything. Mainly, it was used to heat water for a cup of tea, make instant oatmeal, reheat leftovers, and to “cook” the occasional frozen dinner. I have also used it to heat those “steamfresh” frozen veggies. I know for some, this would be an even more major transition than it was for our family.

Have you tossed your microwave? What would be the hardest thing to give up if you did?

{Image Credit}: Photo 2, Photo 3

Comments

  1. says

    Wow! I’m really not sure I could give mine up completely. Even if I wanted to, we have a built-in….not sure how that would work?? lol.

    I like to use my Keurig for heating up water. It’s REALLY fast and you just run it with no k-cup (plus it doesn’t have that weird microwave taste/smell!). We do this for hot chocolate usually but it would also work for tea!
    Stephanie´s last blog post ..CVS Deals 2-20 – 2-26

    • says

      Yeah, I thought about the built-in aspect and how it would be hard to not use (or unplug!) if for that reason. I’ve never thought about using the Keurig for heating water, lol. I just do it on the stove. What a MUCH better idea!!!

  2. says

    Our microwave broke in the fall…and I have not replaced it. My husband wanted to…and I went down a long list of items we needed more. We purchased an awesome pot for popcorn…and like you, heat our coffee ont he stove in another pot. All in all, I do not miss it. I do not worry about the ‘waves’ crashing around my children! Happy to find someone else like me in this world of convenience!

    • says

      We love our air popper (I got it for super cheap on Black Friday) for making popcorn. It tastes soooooo much better than microwave! And, I totally agree… it is nice to find other like-minded people like yourself! Thanks for commenting!

    • says

      Hee hee… we haven’t told many family members or friends (they already think we are weird for other things, lol). We’ll just let them be surprised by reading this post {giggle}. Thanks for commenting, Phoebe!

  3. Brandi says

    We very seldom use our microwave for anything more than a timer! I bought a kettle for heating water for instant oatmeal, and noticed a major difference in texture immediately. I don’t know what exactly a microwave does to your food, but the oatmeal was much less “mushy” when we use water heated by other means.
    I still have to use my microwave occasionally for frozen meals (some say that they HAVE to be made in the microwave–I’m going to have to remember to check the labeling in the future!). I already don’t purchase the steamer bags, because something about cooking my veggies in a plastic bag just doesn’t sit well with me. A steamer basket is cheap, and steaming veggies on the stovetop (or in a rice cooker) is relatively quick!

    I also second what Stephanie says… I use the Keurig to heat up water these days!

    • says

      I agree about the oatmeal… the texture and taste (well, according to my girls) is definitely superior when we cook it on the stove versus the microwave. Definitely check labels on those frozen dinners… I had purchased some before we made the microwave decision, and was very surprised to see how many would actually cook in the regular oven (I know that sounds silly, but those dinners are pushed so much as microwave meals, I never thought to look before then!). And, yeah, cooking veggies in a plastic bag is just… weird (imho). I had a few steamfresh bags when I got them for free, but again… it was weird :D
      Thanks for commenting! -A

  4. Rebekah Johnson says

    Hmmm…..this is actually something that has nagged me in the back of my mind for a while…I had always heard things about the microwave having a negative effect just by even being in the house plugged in…but I haven’t done any research. You have inspired me to furthur study, and possibly to toss our Microwave as well. Like you, we don’t use it for “major productions” in the kitchen…mostly instant oatmeal, the occasional frozen burrito, etc., and I would be willing to bet we wouldn’t miss it all that much. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. says

    I had wanted to get rid of our microwave for quite a while, for health reasons. When ours died a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t buy another one. My family was disappointed, as they like quick re-heats.

    I’m still really happy that we didn’t replace it.

    I still miss being able to soften butter, though. That’s why you’ll see sticks of butter laying out on my counters. Sometimes as many as 4. lol

    Linda @ Linda’s Lunacy
    http://www.lindaslunacy.blogspot.com
    Linda @ Linda’s Lunacy´s last blog post ..Whats For Dinner

    • says

      LOL about the butter! You can see the same thing at my house! Yeah, Shane said he kind of misses reheats, but not enough to still have a microwave. He’s a good man to put up with my idiosyncrasies :) My girls are all under 7, so they have never really known the convenience a microwave offers… I imagine with older children this might have been more of a difficult transition. Thanks so much for sharing, Linda!
      -A

  6. says

    Hi Amy, I found you through Myra. I have always felt creeped out by our microwave… so you are inspiring me today. I would love to know: what do you do with random fridge leftovers, like items those that were baked in an oven {for example: baked chicken with cheese, or sausage and potatoes, etc}. How do you reheat them without overheating them or “overcooking” them on the stovetop. Do you use a toaster oven??
    -{darlene}
    fieldstonehilldesign.com

    • says

      Hi Darlene, and welcome! In all honesty, when I used my microwave to reheat things liked baked chicken with a sauce or cheese, etc, I tended to “fry” them (blush). When I have items like that, I cook it on the stove, sometimes chop up the chicken and add a little milk, butter, or water to it. If it is something I am unsure of, I watch it very carefully. I haven’t had any problems reheating so far, and for me, I’ve had better luck reheating on the stove than in the microwave, lol! If it is something like biscuits, I reheat them in the toaster oven. HTH, and if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! -A

  7. Christel says

    I use my coffee maker to get hot water for tea, hot chocolate, etc. It is so much faster and easier than stove top or microwave. Less dangerous, too.

    • says

      Hi Christel! Thanks for commenting :) Would you believe it never occurred to me to use a coffee maker to heat water? {blushing} I’ve been using a pan on the stove. This is a much better solution! :) -A

    • says

      @Cindy,

      I have to say that this would be my MAIN problem…I ALWAYS forget to get meat out…I guess I’d have to think more ahead…or always have SOMETHING thawing in the fridge. I’m truly interested in this…could I really give it up?

  8. Rebekah Johnson says

    I keep a whistling tea pot on the stove at all times (I made sure it’s cute so it can live on the stove in plain sight LOL) to heat water for tea, instant coffee….etc. There is hardly a day that goes by that I do not use my tea pot! =)

  9. says

    I agree that I don’t think that a microwave is the healthiest option! Good for you and your family!!!

    What do we use ours for? Making rice when I am lazy though I will wholeheartedly admit that rice made on the stovetop is so much tastier.
    We don’t eat much frozen food but occasionally Granny sends over Pogo’s for the littles as a treat and we use it to make those too.

    That’s about it. But ours is an over the stove one with outdoor ventilation for our gas stove so it won’t be going anywhere soon :)
    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling´s last blog post ..Oatmeal Bread

    • says

      LOL, yeah, it sounds like yours is stuck. But, I also think that everything in moderation, ya know? And, would you believe I’ve never made rice in the microwave? I’m a horrible rice maker and should just probably break down and just BUY a rice maker, lol. Thanks for sharing, Jenn! -A

  10. Rocky says

    Oh my goodness! Like minded folks! We have not used a microwave in over a year and haven’t missed it at all! My husband won’t even use the one at work! We reheat leftovers in the toaster oven but even more often in a covered skillet on the stove with a little water to help steam. As for hot water we have an electric teapot which I could not live without! They are energy efficient and are easily unplugged when not in use! After you read up on the research it is a no brainer to get rid of the microwave permantely!

    • says

      Yay! That’s awesome that your hubby won’t use the microwave at work! Microwaves are definitely not energy-efficient, and it was one of the reasons we got rid of it. Thanks for the reheating ideas! -A

  11. milo johnston says

    I really like that more and more people have stopped using the microwave. We still have ours bc it is above the oven but I only use it every 3 months or so. Food tastes so much better when we dont use the microwave. That in itself should tell us that the microwave is doing something wrong to our food. I use to use my microwave a lot for popcorn but now use coconut oil on the stovetop to make popcorn and it is so yummy :)

    • says

      Hi Miloann! Thanks for sharing! I definitely agree popcorn cooked in coconut oil is sooo tasty :D

      To quote you,

      “Food tastes so much better when we dont use the microwave. That in itself should tell us that the microwave is doing something wrong to our food.”

      Amen!

  12. says

    This is too funny! My husband and I just had the discussion yesterday. I commented how bad it is for us and he said, “Well, just toss it then!” I know we should but I don’t know if I’m totally ready to just toss it! Maybe I just need to do it slowly as you did.
    Cooking for 10 every day, 3 meals a day, the microwave gets used often! We don’t cook in it, just use it to reheat.
    Ok, you talked me into it, I’m going to go put it in the pantry closet! We’ll see how it goes :)

    • says

      LOL! Yay! Put it in that pantry :D Although, coming from a perspective of only cooking for 5 versus 10, I cannot imagine the cooking load being doubled! Thanks for commenting, and good luck! -A

  13. says

    We stopped using microwaves about 4 years ago and removed the hood-range microwave from our current house when we moved in. I kid you not, almost every time my mom comes to visit, she makes a comment about how she doesn’t know how we do it without a microwave! haha
    I guess there was a time where I thought I could NEVER manage without one either. But, honestly, I never even think of it now. I bought a couple of cute, small saucepans for heating up smaller portions of food on the stove. Heating food this way actually gives it a more even, longer-lasting heat.

    And any type of food that actually says on it that you can ONLY cook it in the microwave…well…we probably shouldn’t be eating that stuff anyway, right? :)

    • says

      Hi Estelle! Your mom’s comments sound like some we are sure to get :D We really haven’t “told” our family… we are kind of waiting for them to notice it, lol! Thanks for sharing! -A

  14. S Shah says

    Hi,
    I can definitely go back to not using one because I have grown up in a home without one, but I am not fully convinced about the disadvantages. Amy, you mentioned that it does weird things to our food but there is no clear scientific evidence that mention specific harmful effects of microwave to our bodies. Infact scientists are not able to establish a link between adverse outcomes on human health and use of microwaves. So what do we base our decision upon? There has to be some evidence that I am not aware of. Please share if you know.
    thanks.

  15. Kristine says

    I just loved reading this! We got rid of our microwave about 3 years ago and just about everyone I know is in disbelief of how we’ve done it for this long. We honestly haven’t missed it at all- I don’t even think about it. Ours was a built in and all we did was remove it and replace it with a much prettier over-the range hood and a new backsplash- the whole project took no more than one Saturday and we are not “pros” by any means. It has opened the space up and if you think about it very few if any home decor magazines showcase over-the- range microwaves- or any microwaves at all!

    When I was pregnant I did my research and realized that microwaves really actually do way more harm than good other than the “don’t stand in front of the microwave” we all heard about as a kid. The most shocking to me was what it can do to the structure of plain old water- not good. I also didn’t like the fact that it was at head level in my kitchen. Made no sense to me.

    Anyhow- my husband is such a trooper- I thought for sure he’d miss it. Like others have mentioned, we too got some really cute cookware to keep on the stove- a pretty teapot, pans, etc. Coffee tastes so much better reheated in a pot and takes about the same time to reheat- and we use the toaster oven a lot as well. As for the microwave- we are using it as a faraday cage in the garage for cell phones (emergency) and other small electronics. Sounds strange and crazy- what’s a faraday cage I’m sure you’re asking (another topic- but fun to look up!). I thought so too…but in doing research on the microwaves we came across the topic and it just seemed to make good emergency-preparedness sense! And a great way to re-purpose! Oh- and we pulled the microwave out once to melt a vinyl record for a craft project I was working on!

    • says

      Wow, Kristine! Thanks for sharing :) I love how you re-did your former “microwave spot”. Hopefully, that will be an encouragement to others who want to remove it, but are unsure of how to make it look nice once it is removed.

      I did google the faraday cage. That is so interesting! I have never heard of it before. Definitely a great way to repurpose!

      Thanks for commenting and sharing! -A

  16. Gina says

    When I read of a experiment a friend did with her microwave, it was the last straw for me. The microwave was moved out. So for the lady that asked what do microwaves do, here is the experiment my friend did. She planted two seeds in two seperate cups of dirt. The one she watered with tap water, the other she (cooked the water in the microwave, and cooled again) and watered the other seed pot. The seed watered with tap water grew nice, the other seed barely sprouted. What does it tell us, not even boiled water in the microwave can make plants grow, what does it do to the foods we eat cooked in there.

  17. Deborah says

    A microwave seems like a great thing to give up, and I’d love to except….leftovers. I do not cook perfectly portioned meals, so there’s usually something leftover, which goes in the fridge. I don’t have that many pots and pans, so I put the food in tupperwares so I can use the pots and pans again. So…to have leftovers, we have to re-use the pots and pans. When we have more than one kind of leftover, we use multiple pots and pans. We have to hand wash everything, so instead of piling leftovers on a plate and sticking it in the microwave, we re-dirty dishes and cookware, and that gets really old really fast. I know technically I could just cover the pot or pan that I originally cooked the food in, but I often need to use it again before we eat it. After several months of microwave-less living, we bought a microwave, and I have loved it. However, we’re moving to Africa, where a microwave might be more of a luxury than we can afford. Any suggestions? :)

  18. Hannah says

    My microwave had a meltdown a few weeks ago (rather scary sparking actually) and I’ve discovered a few things since –

    My toaster oven is more useful than I realized.
    I have a electric kettle to boil water that makes things like instant oatmeal and hot beverages, even pasta water a snap!
    Heating things on the stove is not really that big of a deal.
    Lastly, I do hate getting meat out of the freezer early to defrost because I FORGET and then an hour before dinner start to panic. However, runnign things under cold water and slicing slightly frozen chicken hasn’t ruined dinner.

    I think I can live without it!

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