Okay, so the title of this post seems ridiculous. But, I know from comments that I’ve received here and on facebook that many of you are wondering.
When people find out that we don’t have a microwave, they always ask 2 questions: Why? and How?
I’m writing this series to address both of these questions. The first post addresses why we don’t have a microwave. Today I thought I’d share some tips to make it easier–and admit the one thing I miss! Basically, I’m going through some of the most common uses for microwaves and sharing how we do them without a microwave.
Convenience Foods/Frozen Meals
First of all, we eat almost exclusively real, whole foods. So, we haven’t missed the microwave for the convenient/frozen meals because we didn’t eat those anyway. Some things we do instead for “instant” meals:
- Sandwiches (very rarely for the kids and I, but hubby will sometimes take these for work lunches)
- “Snack” plates with raw veggies & homemade ranch, a cheese stick, sliced cheese, chips & salsa, peanut butter, hummus & real food crackers, hard-boiled eggs, black olives, fruit, etc.
- Soups–not instant, but these heat up very quickly in a pot on the stove.
As an occasion treat, I’ll purchase my boys some of these boxed meals which they call “healthy lunchables,” since they aren’t allowed to have real lunchables. Although, again, I allow them on occasion as a very rare treat because, for whatever reason, they love them. And, I don’t think a once-every-few-months treat is going to make a huge overall difference when we eat real, whole foods at least 80% of the time.
Moving on to the few things that we did use our microwave for–popcorn tops the list. I love popcorn and it’s a healthier snack. However, the bagged kind that we were using before is awful in terms of chemical, processed, preservative, unpronounceable ingredients! Yuck!
I’d like to eventually pop it myself in a pan (maybe one like this if not a regular pan), but for now the popcorn maker is something I can stick with–it actually takes about the same amount of time as the microwave kind! Not to mention it’s much tastier and I can feel comfortable knowing what’s in it. Be sure to get organic to avoid GMO’s.
One of the things I did a lot with my microwave was to soften butter or melt it for recipes that required melted butter. It was so easy to just stick it into the microwave for 30 seconds. However, it’s really not worth it and I’ve found that it’s not a big deal. I still often forget to set out the butter to soften in time for easy spreading on bread, etc. I’m still trying to work on that one!
For melting butter, I use a 1-quart pan for 1/2 cup or more. Smaller amounts are a bit tougher because it seems like a waste to melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a large pan–most of the butter coats the sides, etc. So, for less than that I use something similar to a double boiler system–I put my butter in a small pyrex bowl like this one. Then I bring water to a boil in a small pan, remove from heat, and set the glass bowl inside the pan, with a lid on top of the pan. This is not an ideal system, but it works to melt my butter. If I’m using my oven, then I will sometimes put the same small pyrex dish in my preheating oven to melt that way.
I just recently discovered that there is such a thing as a tiny butter warmer or melting pot, and it’s very high on my wish list at Amazon! I’m so excited to get one of these, as it will make the process of melting butter so much easier since I won’t have to worry about changing methods, etc. I can just always use this little pan. And since it’s cast iron, I can still melt butter in my oven if I want to.
When we get to our new house, we’re planning to have a wood stove and that will make melting butter in the winter easy peasy on our woodstove top in one of these great little pans.
We heat up leftovers using our stove:
- Soup and other dishes in a pot get heated up on the stove top.
- Pastas, casseroles, baked dishes, or breads usually get heated in the oven at around 350.
We also use glass, oven-safe plates, so on occasions when I choose to heat up a plate of leftovers for each person, instead of entire dishes, I can do that easily as well–4 plates will fit in our oven at a time, and most things will take around 7-9 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Which, honestly, takes about the same amount of time as heating up individual plates, one at a time, in the microwave, and we have the added benefit of having everything ready at the same time.
I never really used my microwave for thawing meat, because I was never very comfortable with doing that. I plan ahead and put my meat in the fridge in order to defrost it. In last minute situations, I give myself a little help by thawing it part of the time on the counter or water.
Confession: The One Thing I Miss
So, just to be completely honest here, I have to admit to missing one thing about our microwave– 4 minute baked potatoes! I used to have baked potatoes a lot more often when I could have them in just 4 minutes. Heating up my oven for an hour for a single baked potato for myself just isn’t very practical.
But, real baked potatoes taste better anyway, and it’s well worth the minor inconvenience to have that microwave out of our house.
Another silly thing that I used my microwave for a lot was as a timer! Now I use the timer on my oven, or a handy kitchen timer like this one.
If you’re considering getting rid of your microwave, another good alternative is a toaster oven. It’s quick and more convenient than a conventional oven for small jobs. We don’t have a toaster oven, so that’s definitely not necessary, but if you’re concerned this might be a good compromise.
Related Articles & Resources
- 31 Days of Real Food (tips, resources, recipes, and more)
- How to Go Paper-Free in Your Kitchen
- Make Cooking Less Stressful
- Meal Planning Made Simple
- Why We Don’t Have a Microwave
- Kitchen Timer (or get this super cute one)
- Toaster Oven
- Go Picnic box meals
- Popcorn Popper (with organic popping corn)
- Pyrex Storage Dishes (for storing, and heating in the same container)
- Small Cast-Iron Melting Pot (for melting butter)
- Oven-Safe Plates