I Don’t Own a Microwave, AMA

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (my favorite bureau!), 90% of American households own a microwave. But as Quartz reports, sales are down and microwaves simply, “aren’t cool anymore.” Generation Z and their highly-involved breakfasts attest to this, I suppose!

Where do we stand on this issue?

I cannot speak for my co-editors, but as for me, I am on the right side of history. If by history you mean overly-paid trend forecasters as cited on Quartz.com. My kitchen in my last apartment had a built-in microwave, so I threw my busted $30 one out, and in this apartment there is truly about six inches of counter space so I don’t know where I’d put one if we had it. *shuffles to stand in front of the KitchenAid mixer, crosses arms*

What do I miss? Maybe instant oatmeal but I just use a kettle for that. Popcorn? We just make it the old-fashioned way (fewer chemicals, but obviously not as GOOD). Reheating leftovers in a skillet usually makes them taste better, and encourages you to add new ingredients and be all Tamar Adler-y. Day-old pizza goes in the toaster oven and it’s even better. And what else is there, anyway?

Actually, no. Amy’s burritos, I will grant you, take way too long to heat up in the oven. Oh and nuking potatoes before you cook them, to make things go faster. That I miss. Boiling them on the stove and then trying to move them onto a pan with a spoon that’s too small and I end up flinging hot water on myself and somehow the potato goes rolling across the kitchen? Almost as uncool as microwaves.

Photo: bcmom


39 Comments / Post A Comment

EM (#1,012)

I don’t have a microwave– my fiancé has never had one and I had given mine away a few years before we moved in together. To be fair, we both have workplaces with microwaves, so we still use them regularly to heat up leftovers at work. But I never miss having one– we have a popcorn popper, and a really great toaster oven. They take up so much space!

samburger (#5,489)

I was determined to go no-microwave in my new place (6″ of counter space SOLIDARITY) but the previous tenant left me hers.

It lives on top of the fridge and I use it exclusively to make popcorn and soften stale bread.

cawcawphony (#2,990)

I don’t have one either- mainly due to cheapness and lack of space. I would totally use it if I had it though. Many leftovers just don’t reheat well in a skillet.

garli (#4,150)

Excellent timing! My microwave pooped the bed this weekend (turned on started going, then died. Not a blown fuse). I was thinking about not replacing it, since 90% of the time I only use it to melt butter.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

Do you microwave haters not heat up your left over meals? Like I cannot stick rice and beans or pasta whatever in my toaster oven. I went without for a while and it was a time consuming annoyance to reheat in a skillet.

I think it takes the same amount of time in a skillet, or maybe I have just been microwaveless for too long and am delusional. But it does mean you have to wash your skillet, which sucks.

hollanding (#6,076)

@RiffRandell I either pop them into the oven at 350 for 10 minutes or throw everything into a skillet which has led to some interesting “______ fried rice” concoctions.

annabanana (#5,919)

We don’t have one because until now every place I’ve lived in already had one. Our current place doesn’t, and I don’t feel like paying for it. For a while we were housesitting fairly often, always for hippie-ish families without microwaves. It always drove me nuts, but now we are Those People.

I only miss it occasionally. Mostly for parcooking potatoes, as you mentioned.

riotmute (#4,454)

Really funny timing – I actually went microwave shopping two days ago and my pathetic Target was out of all the best options. I had the same microwave for at least 7+ years until around six months ago, when my apartment had a cockroach issue and yes, they invaded the inside of my microwave. I thought I could possibly go without for a very long time (and/or until I get married and ask for a new one) but I’m just tired of defrosting meat the old fashioned way and would love to have a super quick meal once in awhile.

Maybe I will try again this weekend…

Katni (#6,141)

I JUST purchased a new microwave yesterday (my first microwave *purchase* ever- I have gotten by for 15+ years with hand-me-down ‘waves from the parents), and anyway, I definitely had the thought “I bet all my food-snob acquaintances and/or anyone I know who lives in New York would make a face at me right now if they could”. Whatevs, slopping some canned refried beans into a bowl and nuking them for a minute on taco nights saves me enough time to justify my laziness.

ATF (#4,229)

My actual favorite thing to eat in the entire world is a rolled up tortilla with melted cheese in the middle. This takes approximately 25-50 seconds in a microwave, depending on the amount of cheese. For that alone, I will never give up my microwave.

And yeah, dishes. I will never think it’s worth emptying my leftovers into a skillet or a pot to reheat them when I could stick the container that contains them into a microwave. Less dishes to wash is always a plus in my book.

AitchBee (#3,001)

Meaghan, you have a toaster oven but not a microwave? MADNESS. I was microwave-free for…nine months? and didn’t miss it, but then a friend moved into a place with a built-in and gave me hers. I use it exclusively to make popcorn, which I eat for dinner a normal, dignified amount of the time.

moreadventurous (#4,956)

@AitchBee Olivia Pope has popcorn and wine for dinner all the time. So you’re totally fine, and particularly classy!

sherlock (#3,599)

Whoah. So impressed by everyone on this thread. If I’m being honest, I probably rely on my microwave for TJ frozen dinners and reheating leftovers at least 50% of weeknights. I would be way too lazy to wash a skillet just to reheat leftovers . . .

moreadventurous (#4,956)

I don’t have one either! I miss it for reheating leftovers for sure, but I do have one at work. Also, in college I subsisted on this frozen pea, feta and sriracha concoction that is just not the same without my tried and true microwave cooking method.

Favorite stove top popcorn toppings: nutritional yeast and sriracha. black pepper and garlic powder is good too, though.

may june july (#2,862)

@moreadventurous this pea recipe, though

moreadventurous (#4,956)

@may june july Well, you pretty much just microwave some frozen peas and then add feta and sriracha.

But! I have a whole method that involves my Pea Mug which I fill with the peas and cover with a small plate. Then I cook it for ~45 seconds, stir, cook another minute or so until thoroughly steaming, stir, add the feta, cook for ~15 seconds, stir, crack some black pepper and sriracha and stir one last time. Then, it’s important to forget the plate lid in the microwave so as to annoy your roommates.

ceereelyo (#3,552)

If my husband didn’t have shift-work I would gladly get rid of our gross stupid microwave. It’s an off brand, non-fancy, dial microwave that we got from his parents years ago when ours pooped out and in our kitchen, which I love aside from the lack of counter space. Where the microwave is I could make a little nook for the coffee maker and electric kettle, and free up the one part of the counter that has everything. I could get by with reheating in our toaster oven, on the stovetop or oven. My husband however will often come home cranky, STARVING and not in the mood to wait for something to heat up via those means, so here it is though I think if this breaks, I will drag my feet on replacing it.

Christy (#3,892)

My girlfriend doesn’t have one, and the only time I miss it at her place is when I want oatmeal for breakfast. (I make mine with milk because I’m not a heathen.)

I have one because it came with my apartment, and I use it for oatmeal and for leftovers when I’m feeling lazy. It lives above my fridge, just like the commenter above. Our new (merged) apartment will have one built in, so we’ll have one. Girlfriend wanted a tiny red one, though, mostly for the cute factor.

My work has a microwave, which I use for reheating leftovers and for cooking my frozen breakfast sandwich every morning. Oh! And for my microwave popcorn. I would be FAR sadder if my home had a microwave and my work did not.

hollanding (#6,076)

I haven’t had a microwave in my tiny NYC apts for the last 2 years and pretty much only miss it when craving Mama Celeste pizza or when it would soften up hard brown sugar.

For a while, I was still buying my favorite Trader Joe’s frozen mac & cheese and Indian dinners, then heating them in the oven which just takes way too long. I now ‘cook’ or assemble dinners more often.

guenna77 (#856)

i have no idea how you all do it. i mean, i get the logistics of how you cook those things. but it seems like monumental waste of time and energy ESPECIALLY in a tiny apartment – seriously, heating up your entire oven to cook leftovers that could be cooked in 1 minute? or a small plate of cheese and crackers that take less than 30 seconds? you’re increasing the time you have to spend cooking these items by a factor of 10, and no i will not take any arguments that they taste better. reheated Indian food does not taste enough better coming out of the oven or a pan than it does coming straight from my microwave to justify such massive preparation and cleanup time. and what do you do in the summer? do you still use your oven all the time and heat up your air conditioned apartment? i cook food from scratch almost every day, and i still use a microwave almost every day.

@guenna77 well I have a toaster oven and my skillet doesn’t get the place super hot. Note: Live in Chicago, have always lived in three flats in Chicago where there is no central air and we are debating getting a window unit.

I mean, honestly? I cook in the mornings? I eat a lot of beer, chips, salsa and cold salads all summer. I don’t think I’d use the microwave to heat ANYTHING up at 85 degrees when it is dark out. I would miss TJ’s microwave dinners but when I jones for a TV dinner which I ABSOLUTELY do, I put it in the oven.

shannowhamo (#845)

@guenna77 For sure. I need a microwave for life, including a variation of your tortilla thing, except I just put cheese between two tortillas and microwave it, very delicious in a very specific, lazy way. Way too lazy to heat leftovers on the stove and popcorn? Isn’t popcorn supposed to be easy, lazy person food? It’s neither easy nor lazy enough sans microwave. I don’t actually eat alot of microwave meals anymore but I like having the option! One thing I do not need it for is to cook potatoes…I mean, I just buy the packets of mashed potato where you add two cups of hot water, I haven’t made a real potato in ages. I do wish I had a toaster oven (especially for pizza heatup which I usually forego as I do really like cold pizza) but there is a counter space issue and microwave wins every time. Oh and my beloved 90 second microwave rice! I couldn’t live without it.

No microwave for…maybe going on five years I guess? I don’t know when I first let it go, but definitely at least three and a half years ago. I just heat things up in a skillet, or in the toaster oven, but yes: clean-up makes me SO ANGRY. Not angry enough to get another microwave though. I’m curious as to those who think it’s such MASSIVE prep though…I mean, let’s take indian food leftovers. I just dump them in a lightly oiled pan, and shove them around a little bit. I guess I then have to take an extra four minutes to wash the pan, but there’s really not THAT much more effort. I just hate dishes.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Jake Reinhardt It’s not massive but it’s enough added hassle that it that it is worth having a microwave for me. I don’t want to dirty a pan, I don’t want to have to put it on a plate. I want to stick it in the ‘wave and then go to town! That, to me, is what leftovers are for! I get super annoyed when leftoveers come in those foil lined things because it means I have to transfer it for heating which is the worst (to me.)

This is also great timing for me! I’m getting ready to move next month, and while I have a microwave now, I won’t have one when I move … and I don’t think I’ll get one! Honestly heating things up in a skillet takes just a few minutes, and it does taste infinitely better! Especially if you’re heating up a cream sauce… it won’t break like it does in the microwave. Though I use a microwave on the semi-regular now, I’m curious if I’ll miss it when it’s gone…

clo (#4,196)

warming up coffee for 30 seconds is the only thing i use my microwave for

Lily Rowan (#70)

Pan-popped corn is way better than microwave, let’s get serious.

The main thing I miss not having a microwave is Trader Joe’s spinach-artichoke dip.

garli (#4,150)

@Lily Rowan That is what killed my microwave this weekend! So I put it in a small pot and heated it up, problem solved.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@garli Ooh intriguing! I literally didn’t see other directions on the box, so gave it up.

garli (#4,150)

@Lily Rowan Yeah I didn’t see any either but it was like 1/3 heated up and so my kitchen already smelled good so desperate times call for desperate measures. I just put it on medium low heat and stirred a bunch and it was fine.

Allison (#4,509)

@Lily Rowan I have a microwave and I still pop on the stove.

crane your neck (#1,448)

@Lily Rowan I’ve made it in the oven but it takes ages. Maybe 25 minutes. A saucepot is a good idea. It’s just hard to wait for all of that beautiful, gooey cheese.

loren smith (#2,300)

@RiffRandell If I’m feeling super lazy, I just wrap what I want in tinfoil with a splash of water and put it in the oven

Elsajeni (#1,763)

I haven’t had a microwave for about 6 months, for similar reasons — the previous apartment came with a microwave installed, and there’s just not really room in the present apartment. We did just buy a house with a built-in microwave, though, so the Reign of the Toaster Oven is coming to an end.

On the whole, I haven’t missed the microwave much. Things do definitely take longer, and that takes some adjustment — like, I can no longer wait until I’m RAVENOUS to decide “I think I’ll have a frozen dinner,” because now it takes 35 minutes in the oven instead of 4 minutes in the microwave; on the other hand, it does seem like they taste better out of the oven. (The one thing I’ve tried that didn’t work was a package of Trader Joe’s frozen ravioli in sauce that had both microwave and stovetop directions. Don’t fall for it. Those stovetop directions are fucked up and your pasta sauce will be watery and gross and sad.)

j a y (#3,935)

I cook a LOT and I couldn’t do without my microwave, for the same reason that restaurants keep them around. I adjust temperature with them, melt things, parcook things. I even bake custards if I’m having a dessert emergency. (Dammit, now I want custard. Emergency triggered.)

Sometimes I’ll freeze leftover pizza. If I’m in a hurry, it’s thawed in the micro, crisped on a skillet, and then put hot oven for a few min.

Anything that has to stay moist or shouldn’t cook too much is faster in the microwave – stew, rice, roasted meats (which would dry out in an oven).

I’m not sure why, but the only thing I don’t use the microwave for is popcorn – I do that stovetop. Probably because I’m cheap.

readyornot (#816)

“[All your empty deals] are just like your f*cking science oven. Bring something into this house that’s gonna take all the nutrients out of our food and then light our house on fire? Thank God for me.”

Meaghan I wonder whether your opinion of microwaves will change when you need to reheat pumped milk/formula ten times a day.

knotkate (#4,153)

I did the no microwave thing for about 6 months, happily… Then summer came and I had no air conditioning. I bought a microwave real fast, because turning on the stove, oven, or even toaster oven when it’s over 90 degrees in my top floor apartment is a no go. Being able to quickly heat up a meal without heating up my apartment was AMAZING!

It also gets heavy use as a baked goods storage facility to hide cakes etc. from my cat. I just make sure to never put metal in there.

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

My old microwave hutch now stores all my booze. I am happy.

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