Admission: I really wanted to call this post Kill Your Microwave … Before It Kills You! But I didn’t. Because that’s not why I killed my microwave. I don’t think microwaves are dangerous, nor do really believe that microwaving your food necessarily destroys the nutrition therein. Living without a microwave is weird, yes. Inconvenient, sure. But somehow, I love it. Think microwave-freedom might be for you? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why Give Up the Convenience?
For thirty years, I never lived in a home without a microwave.
Like just about every kid who grew up in the 80′s, I have fond memories of Hot Pockets, TV dinners, Toaster Strudels, and personal pizzas coming out of that magic (if constantly dirty) black box after a minute and thirty seconds or so. Even the two fires I started in the microwave (one when I forgot to add water to my Top Ramen, the other when my sister and I tried to reheat a bagel the first time we stayed home alone, and had to evacuate to the neighbor’s house) make for good stories.
I’m not on an anti-microwave crusade. If it’s unhealthy, that remains to be seen — emissions may or may not be any worse than what our cell phones and laptops throw off, and even the “common knowledge” that microwaves destroy more enzymes and nutrients than other cooking methods has been largely refuted.
So why get rid of it?
In my case, a few reasons:
Just like an artist often does better work by limiting herself to only a few tools, without a microwave I make far better food choices.
Lots of foods reheat better by other means, and don’t get rubbery five minutes after reheating.
I have been on a bit of clutter-reducing crusade, and I like our kitchen counter better without the big, unsightly, always-dirty box.
Embracing other mild inconveniences — like not having a smartphone, eliminating paper towels, hand-grinding coffee, and running without GPS or a watch — has often made me happier, even if only as a periodic exercise for a few weeks or months.
How We Ditched the ‘Wave
Just as I used to think, “I’d really like to be vegan, but I could never make it work,” I figured microwave-free living would be impossible, or at least unbearable. That is, until I stayed with Doug a few years ago for a DC Vegfest and saw that he and his fiance made it work, as if it was no big deal at all — exactly the way I had begun to feel about being vegan.
But how to actually cut loose? Should wean ourselves off of the microwave and its glorious convenience? Or just make the leap, and rip off the bandage?
Getting rid of our microwave was actually very easy. We employed a little trick that I borrowed from my minimalist friends, who use a “Maybe” Box to store items they’d like to live without, but that they’re scared to let go of completely: put the stuff you’re not sure about in a box, seal it shut and write the date on it. If you decide you really want something you stuck in there, you can always go get it. If three or six months pass and the item never crosses your mind, get rid of it.
So that’s what we did: put the microwave in the basement.
There were a few times (popcorn) that we wanted to use it. But to lug it up stairs seemed a lot of effort, so we never did. (I think once when my dad was visiting, he actually plugged it in down there and used it.)
A few months later, someone needed a microwave, so we gave it away, and we haven’t wanted one since.
Not unlike finally deciding to give up cheese to go from vegetarian to vegan, living without a microwave seems a lot harder until you just go ahead and do it.
Give it a Try
If you’re intrigued, I say go for it. Stick the microwave in the garage, the basement, or your car — it’s just inconvenient enough to move a microwave (or cook your food out in your garage) that this will nicely do the job of the Maybe box.
If your microwave is mounted in your kitchen and thus unmovable, try committing to a 10-day or 30-day challenge: they avoid the “I’ll never be able to eat/cook/reheat/enjoy [whatever you’re getting rid of] again” problem, in the same way the Maybe box does. Go 10 days without using it, and if you like it, commit to 30.
Do either of these trials, and you’ll quickly discover if living without a microwave is for you. If it’s not, no shame in going back — but even if that’s the result, I believe that self-experiments like this make you better, for what you learn by trying.
– See more at: No Meat Athlete