Recently I stumbled across a great post from The Humbled Homemaker on how her family ditched their microwave, and it reminded me of the fact that my own family ditched our microwave about a year ago, too.
Sometimes I forget that microwaves are a staple in most kitchens. My mother and I are the main cooks in our home, and we had paired down our use of the microwave significantly before finally getting rid of it altogether. Now I rarely even think about microwaves. It has become completely second nature for me to cook and reheat my food without using a microwave. Since I was using it so rarely to begin with the adjustment was completely uneventful for me, but I promise that you can adjust, too, if you decide to follow the no-microwave path.
Erin did an excellent job of covering the “why’s” of kicking the microwave to the curb (although, can we take a moment to remember what a pain it is to clean one? Ugh!). Instead of reiterating the points she has already covered very well, I want to share my personal favorite tools to use in place of the microwave.
1. Get yo’self a tea kettle! I personally love my electric tea kettle, but an old fashioned stove-top kettle would work well too if you are wanting to go off the grid. I was incredibly lucky to stumble upon my tea kettle for $5 at Goodwill. Nothing was wrong with it other than a damaged box! A typical non-thrift store electric kettle will run you anywhere from $15-50, depending on how fancy you want to go, but I have to tell you…my cheap one does just fine!
I love the tea kettle for quickly heating water for things like tea or oatmeal. I also even use it to cheat when boiling water to cook food on the stove top. It heats the water to boiling much faster than our stove, so I will often get my water hot in the kettle and then switch it to the stove top to save a little extra time. I also don’t have to babysit the water in the kettle, because I can hear when it starts steaming (even though it doesn’t whistle). That leaves me free to do other things while my water heats.
2. Erin also mentioned her convection oven, and I have to tell you…I couldn’t live without ours. I love our convection oven so much that I just had to list it even though Erin’s post mentions it as well.
Convection ovens save so much time in cooking because they warm up faster than a larger oven, and they also heat up the kitchen much less. I am always popping sweet potatoes, left overs, and even up to six slices of bacon in ours. They are also excellent to have around during the holidays when many more dishes than usual need to be cooked within a certain time frame.
3. A vegetable steamer is a great asset as well. These can be as simple or as fancy as you want them to be (we go for simple around here), but either way they are a wonderful tool for heating leftovers. In addition to quickly and gently cooking fresh or frozen veggies, these are great for heating leftovers that have a tendency to dry out when reheated. Sometimes foods such as steak are prone to over-cooking and becoming tough when heated again, but steaming helps to keep the food moist and tender.
4. If you don’t have a crock pot yet, run, don’t walk, to the nearest store and grab one! In fact, I recommend two of varying sizes! Why worry about trying to fix supper in a flash by cooking with a microwave when you can make a much better quality meal with no rush? Throw your food in that puppy in the AM and serve it up nice and hot and delicious in the PM. No muss, no fuss, no extra pots and pans. Just supper served simply.
5. Finally, if you’re really new to the concept of cooking sans-microwave, get a good traditional food-based cookbook. Against All Grain is a personal favorite of mine, and I can attest to the fact that you will love her recipes regardless of whether or not you are Paleo or Gluten-Free. I recommend this cookbook to everyone I can, because the recipes are all so, so good in addition to being super healthy and fairly simple. They’re more involved than popping some frozen macaroni and cheese in the microwave, but they’re much better than that, too (and I used to practically live off microwaved mac’n’cheese for lunch). And just FYI, the meatloaf is my favorite recipe in AAG.
Danielle also has a new cookbook out called Meals Made Simple. I haven’t tried as many recipes from it yet, but it looks very promising! I can’t imagine any of her recipes not being fantastic.
There you have it! These are my favorite tools to start transforming your kitchen from microwave-central to a well-oiled traditional cooking machine. I would be lying if I said our meals are now 100% healthy handmade treasures, but we’re getting closer…and saying goodbye to the microwave has drastically reduced our intake of processed foods. When heating a frozen meal would take just as long as making something a little better, suddenly “TV dinners” aren’t so appealing anymore.
Have you ditched your microwave recently? Let me know your tips for living without one!