Life Without a Microwave

When we sold our townhouse one of the things the buyers actually wrote into the contract was our second hand mismatched microwave. We decided not to replace it right away, and to see what life was like without it. I am pleased to report that I don’t miss it and life is fine and dandy without it.

No microwave here.

My mom and I recently had a conversation about microwaves. Her and my step-dad bought a giant 4000lb convection oven / microwave 20 years ago when they went to the Bay? Sears? for Boxing Day sale wrapping paper. It is enormous. It takes two people to move it and it requires a stand at the end of their kitchen just to house it because it is just that huge. One of the features it advertised in the book that came with it was that you could cook a turkey in it. Seriously.

It still operates, much to the dismay of my mom who is wishing for the blasted thing to die so that she can replace it with a nice, small, compact little microwave oven. My folks do two things with their microwave: they warm up coffee or tea, and they defrost meat.  Mom had a glimpse of hope recently when it died. But a quick trip to the repairman (who suggested replacing a fuse rather than actually paying for an estimate since a whole new microwave would cost less than the estimate) and the damn thing still works.

Ross and I, however, had no such history with our microwave, it having been a hand me down from his nomadic aunt who probably got it as a hand me down in the first place. So, it was simple to say goodbye. While I was indifferent to the use of a microwave, it wasn’t something we used terribly frequently – the most use it saw was warming up tea, nuking fish sticks, and making fast scrambled eggs.

We’ve lived in our new place for just 2 months now and I honestly don’t miss the microwave. The first time I went to prepare fishsticks for Kale’s lunch – long a staple of a fast easy hot meal for a cranky toddler – I remembered that I needed to not only cook them for 30 minutes in the oven, but to also pre-heat the oven. Whoops. It was a cheese and crackers day that day.

I like not having a lot of “things” on my counter. We currently have a toaster, my KitchenAid, and the espresso machine in terms of appliances, but we also have a knife block, a cookie jar, three plants, a box of tissue, a roll of paper towel, the compost bucket, a fruit bowl, a cutting board, and generally my wallet and our phones live on the corner of the counter. The kettle lives on the stove. I recently added a digital photo picture frame because it has a clock function on it and I find not having a clock in the kitchen annoying (despite a watch and an iPhone).

When I started inventorying all the things we keep on our counter I was actually kind of shocked at just how many gizmos and gadgets we have (and use!) on our counters. Paper towels we rarely use though, so I’ve started researching paper towel dispensers that you mount inside a cupboard. I moved a plant but had to move it back when the plant started to die, and I’ve relocated the tissue box to see if that frees up some space. The counters suddenly feel very crowded. Having a microwave on the counter I think would just put me over the edge.

So how is life without a microwave? Well, I pour a lot of cold tea down the drain these days without having the ability to easily warm up a cup. In the summer, I was using it for iced tea and kept an ongoing jug in the fridge. I’m trying to make smaller pots of tea, but that only seems to result in me using three times as many tea bags. And while tea isn’t particularly expensive, and tea bags make great compost, it still feels wasteful to me. Someone also suggested I purchase a Mrs. Tea, which is essentially a set up similar to a coffee maker but instead it has a hopper for a tea bag and brews a pot of tea which it then keeps warm. A Google search shows that the Mr. Coffee company has actually discontinued this appliance, but there are many similar items out there but to be honest, I don’t really want “another” appliance on my counters. A kettle and a teapot I can simply put away – an appliance needs an extra tall cupboard to house it and needs to be dragged out daily.

So, instead, I will just keep trying to make smaller pots and drink it while it’s hot.

There’s some (questionable) science out there decrying microwave oven use and insisting that their use is the root of all ill health. Just Google search “are microwave ovens bad for me?” and you’ll get a flood of answers. I’m not 100% convinced – their arguments are shaky and based almost entirely on anecdotal evidence and speculation. I can’t find a single source I trust that discounts their use – most of the “MICROWAVES WILL KILL YOU” people are posting on health nutter websites. I’m sure real evidence exists, but it’s certainly not simple to find.

Not having a microwave feels simpler. And that’s good enough for me.

11 years ago


  1. My parents bought a oven/microwave when I was 14. I REFUSED to eat anything that came out of it. Just did not seem right. Even after my parents tricked me and had cooked a whole meal using only the mircowave once, I knew something was off with the food….

    Now as adult, I rarely use mine. I find the only time I am using it, is when I need it like an extra oven when hosting dinner parties and damn if veggies don’t taste the same neing nuked and a saves space for the other dishes needing the stove top.

    If I find myself resorting to eating crap (canned raviolli) I still heat it up on the stove.

    I think mircowaves will just naturally find less and less need/want/use in homes in the next 10 years.

  2. We haven’t had a microwave since we moved in together. It’s been.. 17 years! With no MWO.

  3. We have one and the only thing I use it for is for the rats’ peas/corn. Once it dies, it will not be replaced. Actually I was just thinking about getting rid of it and replace it with an espresso machine… don’t have counter space for both of them. Looks like our stove top espresso is dying so we might just do that once it is dead for good.

  4. I used to be very anti-microwave but the Mister showed me the simple math about how much less electricity it uses and how things like steaming veggies takes a lot less time and the result is that – if you do them right (minimal water) – they aren’t mush like over steaming. Also, we cook big batches of food and so we are always eating leftovers which we need to reheat in the microwave as a cost-saving measure than using the stove. So for us it is a money thing. I would definitely be afraid of your Mom’s microwave. Those old-school ones are scary.

  5. I remember that a High School teacher of mine had a small “coffee warmer” in his office all the time. It was essentially a coffee cup sized hot pad that his cup sat on and it kept it warm for him. Might be an idea for the tea??

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