Living Without a Microwave
The microwave at our new place died and we simply didn’t replace it. No big deal.
Except for many of us, who have lived with microwaves all of our lives, they’re just a standard part of any kitchen. Heck, I would wager that in many U.S. households the microwave is the single most used kitchen appliance.
We use it to heat leftovers, water for tea or cocoa, to defrost things, and some of us even use it to cook entire meals.
My mother who recently stayed with us even told me that, “normal people have microwaves, Jordan.” Of course they do and why wouldn’t they when they are so easy to use, convenient, and really quite cheap?
So why we didn’t replace ours?
We’re not anti-microwave for health reasons as some might suspect. I really don’t even know where to stand on that issue.
As far as my internet searches turned up it’s still pretty widely disputed though I lean toward the pretty safe side based on scholarly articles I’ve read.
Some studies found no difference in nutritional value in food cooked traditionally versus in a microwave while others claim they did. So while the jury may still be out on that one it did not factor into our decision. I do believe though that microwaving food in plastic containers is probably pretty unhealthy.
Actually using plastic in general, but that folks, is a whole other topic. So if you’re interested on more of the health facts on microwaves here are some articles to start with:
- Radiation, Microwaves, and Cancer from Cancer Research UK
- Microwave Oven Radiation from the FDA
- Microwave Cooking and Nutrition from Harvard Health
- Microwaves Are Bad For You from Medical Daily
So if not for health then what? Our reason, primarily was simply because we can.
Part of our mission as a farm, as a homestead, and as a family is to live a more traditional life.
We want to be closer to nature and farther from the disposable and convenience rat race that consumes people’s lives. So the thought of driving to some big box store and spending our hard earned money on some plastic appliance, probably composed of parts made in some Korean sweat shop, and with a sole purpose of making our lives more convenient wasn’t very appealing.
However there are few other points we thought a lot about in our decision.
Cons of living without a microwave
~ Microwaves are actually really energy efficient. The vast majority of the electricity that goes into your microwave is energy that goes directly into heating your food. Instead of like a stovetop element which heats the air around it and the pot your cooking in.
~Microwaves are without a doubt a fast way to cook. Even simple acts like heating water easily take twice as long on a stovetop.
~ They’re great for making some meals in the summer time when it’s often too hot to use an oven.
Pros of living without a microwave
~ Ditching the microwave has just been another change in our lives that separates us from a culture that demands everything, right now! Whether it’s dinner on the table or out of season produce we’ve created a world filled with immediate gratification but sometimes it’s important to step back and consider, at what cost?
~ It’s harder to rely on super processed convenience food without a microwave.
~ We have a lot more counter space! I do a lot of baking so space is a huge deal for me.
~ Oh and my tea kettle sure is a lot prettier than any microwave.
Adapting to Life Without a Microwave
You’ll notice that there’s some pretty big cons on that list and yet we did it anyway. Here’s how we deal with those cons and how you can too!
If you’ve followed our story you know that we’re hoping to move into an off grid house we’re building sometime next year. Microwaves may be the most energy efficient for a modern kitchen but they sure suck a lot of electricity if you only have a few solar panels. So we’ve come up with a few alternative ideas.
In the winter we rely pretty heavily on our wood stove (someday I want, scratch that, need one of those big beautiful cookstoves). It’s pretty darn efficient to cook on/in something that’s already hot don’t you think?
At the new place we’re planning to have an outdoor kitchen complete with a rocket stove and cob oven. This will also help with the summertime heat issue and I can literally taste the wood fired pizza that will be coming out of that oven. Those little microwavable frozen pizza’s just don’t stand up to the good stuff.
Sorry there’s no way to get water to boil faster except maybe throw some more wood on the fire. I will tell you though that I would take waiting for water to boil over working 9-5 in an office cubicle everyday and that’s really what we hope all these little changes in our lives will add up too.
If you’re in need of convenient snacks consider that many really healthy snacks don’t require a microwave. We eat sliced veggies and hummus, dried fruit, or apples and peanut butter. We sometimes make pasta salad, hard boiled eggs, or bean salad that can be kept in the fridge for awhile and eaten cold.
Change your eating habits. Ours sure do when summer rolls around. Think sandwiches and salads instead of baked potatoes and long simmering soups. This will keep you and your house cooler. Plus if you have a garden it’s a great way to utilize all of that fresh produce.
We cook outside a lot in the summer. Even if you’re not planning an outdoor kitchen like us there’s still ways to cook outside. Gather your family for some ole’ fashioned campfire cooking or fire up your grill. You can even make a pizza on a grill if you’re not ready to jump on the cob oven band wagon.
If you’re ready to start moving towards an off grid lifestyle try ditching the microwave. It’s easier than you think!
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