How to Survive Without a Microwave

 

When there are too many cooks in my kitchen, it means there’s anyone else in there with me. Indeed, I have had to make do with the tiniest kitchen ever and, along the way, sacrifice some appliances to the kitchen gods. It ultimately came down to either my toaster oven or my microwave. I chose the latter, and I’m so, so glad I did! In the end, living without a microwave isn’t all that difficult.

Space concerns aside, living without a microwave has its benefits: food tastes better, other heating methods often use less energy, and there’s no need to be concerned about the potentially harmful side effects of microwave ovens.

In the end, if I can survive without a microwave, so can you! Check out these tips for cooking sans nuking.

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Making Popcorn

For me at least, the best part about having a microwave was microwave popcorn. But no worries here — making popcorn on the stovetop is actually quite easy! What you need to do: add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large pot with a tight lid and heat to medium. Put in 2 or 3 kernels and wait for them to pop. Then, add about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels, put the lid on and gently move the pot around so the kernels get coated in oil. Take off heat when the popping slows down, move it to a bowl, and add desired toppings.

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Reheating Pizza

Microwaved pizza is the worst! Luckily, reheating pizza in a toaster oven or conventional oven can come close to restoring it to its former glory. Make sure to put it on a baking sheet and keep the temperature low until it is heated to your desired temperature.

 

Defrosting Food

If you’re planning ahead (good for you!), you can easily defrost food overnight in the fridge. You can also defrost/thaw food in cold water; change the water ever half hour or so and be sure to put the food in a leak-proof package. Never, ever defrost on the counter or in hot water — it may get the job done quicker, but you’re putting yourself at risk of food borne illnesses. Of course, you can always just cook your food frozen; it will take longer but be perfectly safe.

One counterpoint: some frozen vegetables can be thawed in boiling water.

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Reheating Pasta, Rice & Soup

You can easily reheat these dishes on the stovetop. Put them in a pot, add a little water or vegetable stock, and heat over medium-low heat. And don’t forget to stir, stir, stir!

Softening Butter

I’m not going to lie — softening butter without a microwave can be a major pain. You can always, of course, plan ahead and let the butter sit out for a few hours or beat it in a stand mixer until it is soft. However, my tried-and-true method is to put the butter in a small bowl, and fill a bigger bowl halfway with warm water. Place the smaller bowl in the bigger bowl and let it sit until softened.

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405 comments

Dale Overall

Have a microwave but most of the time I cook from scratch and generally have little need to use it. Have no idea whether or not these actually cause cancer as some say or whether or not it is true that these little boxes leech all the nutrients out of food. Use an electric kettle to heat my tea water to just before the boiling point and rarely make coffee at home.

Presently the microwave occupies a good portion of my tiny kitchen counter with various cups and dried flowers in a dish resting on the top. Its door is barricaded by a homemade clay cat head and various things in front. In order to use it a path must be cleared to open the castle door.

It ends up being more trouble than it is worth and I use conventional methods to cook my food. Butter is left out for awhile so that I can scoop out a bit of the unsalted contents into a small ramekin, mixing it with dill, parsley and dried chives. It is always hot in the apartment despite an air conditioner and only a bit less than a half a cup is out for the day.

Prefer to make my popcorn on the stove top where I can then add butter along with dill, parsley, paprika, chives, grated cheddar cheese and any other herb or spice that strikes my mood.

Have to admit that the cloth microwave potato bag with the cats on the fabric has not been used for many months but the potatoes turn out just like baked when using it and the MW is also great for heating up the barley shoulder cover that keeps my neck warm if it is aching

Dale Overall

Adding a bit more to end my previous comment, so long winded...would love a twitter like letter counter to warn me when coming to the end, then I could edit more easily!

The MW is also great for heating up the barley shoulder cover that keeps my neck warm if it is aching or just finding it chilly on a blustery -40C wintery day.

Cheryl F.
Cheryl F.3 years ago

I'll never give up my microwave. It uses far less power than either an oven or a stove top, I prefer my vegetables cooked in it, and it's a perfect way to reheat my coffee in less than a minute. I don't have a TV so I figure that makes us even ;)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

with a 2 yr old the microwave is my savior some days. thanks for the tips though

Jagoda K.
Jagoda K.4 years ago

Fortunately, I never had a microwave.

KELLY ROGERS
Kelly Rogers4 years ago

Usually my toaster oven is my bestfriend. However, right now is a different story. When I move the toaster oven will resume its rightful place

Reggie Thomas
Reggie Thomas4 years ago

The microwave is my friend,I find it so difficult to walk a way from it,I'll try harder.(O_O)

Elizabeth O.
.4 years ago

Useful tips.

Margaret M.
Margaret M. F.4 years ago

Thank-you for the article. While you offer some alternatives, none of them really apply to me. I'm not really fond of cooking, thus I use my microwave for heating/re-heating. The comments Alison A. stated in her post are valid points & are reasons I continue using my microwave. I also don't think my not using my microwave would be very cost effective for me.

Margaret M.
Margaret M. F.4 years ago

Thank-you for the article. While you offer some alternatives, none of them really apply to me. I'm not really fond of cooking, thus I use my microwave for heating/re-heating. The comments Alison A. stated in her post are valid points & are reasons I continue using my microwave. I also don't think my not using my microwave would be very cost effective for me.