How to Stop Using a Microwave {Kitchen Tools of the Trade}

By Sara, Contributing Writer

Kitchen Tools of the Trade is a weekly feature each Wednesday! Come back next Wednesday to read about a pastry mat!

My favorite thing in the kitchen is not the microwave.  When I started transitioning our family to real foods I was doing, and still am, a lot of reading.  One of those eye-openers was all those who didn’t use microwaves.

I spent close to a year in England in a flat without a microwave, so I knew I could do without it.  But that was when it was just me – not me plus hubby and three littles.  When I mentioned it to my husband, he just about flipped!  It was too soon to add one more change.

The nice thing is that when I mention something he goes off and does his own research.  There are differing opinions on the bad and the not so bad of using a microwave.  Most shocking was that Russia banned their use at one time.  It has since been lifted, but apparently the findings that led to the ban still remain.


  • Causes damage to the nutrients in your food.
  • Makes food harder to digest and causes intestinal problems.
  • Exposure to radiation.  I even has a friend who has gone to the extreme of removing the WiFi from their home for the same reason.
  • *May cause cancer.  MY response to this is, “everything causes cancer.”

I’d also heard my grandfather – the scientist -talk about it’s harm many times – to my secret eye rolls.  Then there is the story of a science project of two plants. One watered with stove top boiled water and the other with microwaved water.  The microwave one is dead.

When microwaves were originally marketed they were called “radar ranges.” You “nuke” your food with high-intensity radar.  It is essentially irradiating your food.

So, is it bad for you?  Well, I have found a lot of contradictions. But the fact is, I like our food better this way. Sure it is not as convenient as it used to be. But sometimes convenience leads to bad habits and bad food.

My food isn’t crisp around the edges or cold in the middle.  Most liquids get hot faster this way as well.  And reheated pizza sure is better!


My husband had no interest in hearing about one more thing I wanted to change in our kitchen.  So I waited and just tried to use it less myself.  And I cringed every time he used it, or I got lazy and used it.

A few months after I mentioned it, I heard a funny thing while at my mother-in-law’s.  “We are thinking of getting rid of our microwave,” said my husband.  Well that was the first I heard of him being on board!  A few weeks later he came home to a little toaster oven.

This was just after Thanksgiving this last year.  He spent the first few weeks being a little upset.  So, I helped out with heating things for him until we both had it figured out.  And I can say neither of us really miss it at all.

What do you NEED instead?

I use a few different things to warm up our leftovers now.  Of course the oven would work well for many things.  But I hate the idea of heating up the whole oven for a single serving at lunch.  And there are a bunch of things you can use the smaller oven for.

So I’ve traded in my microwave and toaster for a toaster oven. I like not having to heat up the oven – and the house – to cook. Last summer I did not use the oven once because it was so hot and we were trying to use the A/C as little as possible. It was hard to not bake for that long a time.

We started of with a cheap rinky-dink $10 toaster oven I found on craigslist – which honestly is probably all you need, but I wanted something I could also use in the summer instead of the regular oven, so it needed to be a little bigger. The little one is now being demoted to the workshop so i can use it to cook clay :)

I asked around and did a lot of research before settling on the above Counter Top Convection Oven, which I ordered from Walmart for about $70.  This one was recommended by Whole New Mom.  I have loved it.  It fits a small casserole pan, but I usually end up using a couple of tin pie plate to heat things up.

The toaster oven is great to warm solid pieces of food – pizza, casserole, burrito, lasagna etc.  I use a small sauce pan for individual servings of liquids – sauces, soups and to reheat that warm drink that always cooks too fast.  For rice or noodle dishes I use a small frying pan and keep the food moving on low heat until it’s all warm.

I also have a rice maker because I am Asian on the inside.  It has some added features, like a steamer option.  So I can put leftover rice in the bottom with a little water and place chicken, or whatever, into the steamer tray and turn it on for five minutes.

Creative Christian Mama had a post I read last year.  Of course I thought I needed to go right out and buy the butter warmer she recommended.  I refrained.  It would be much easier to pour out of a pot with a spout, but you can do without.  Though I am saving for the one next time I place an amazon order cause I am tired of funnels and messes.

Do you use a microwave?  What would get you to change to a microwave-less kitchen?

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to present scientific evidence on the dangers of microwave use. It it merely Sara’s story of why and how her family gave up using the microwave. Please do your own research.
Note from Erin: I don’t necessarily consider the microwave to be a “tool of the trade” in my kitchen, but it’s important for you all to know that we do still have one in our kitchen, and my hubby uses it. It’s not a battle I want to fight. 😉 But, perhaps I’ll ask him to read Sara’s post on it today. 😉

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  1. Miranda says

    My son and daughter-in-law do not use a microwave and I was just telling her last night that getting rid of it will be the hardest “improvement” to our diets that we make. This was a very timely, encouraging post–makes me think that maybe I can live without a microwave. :) Thank you for the toaster oven recommendation, too. Recommendations/reviews are always so helpful and one of my favorite things about using the internet.

  2. says

    We just got rid of ours:

    We aren’t happier or less happy. We didn’t really use it, except to warm butter from the refrigerator (very cute butter warmer, thank you!) and occasionally for reheating our coffee and tea, which we now just set on top of the woodstove.

    Thanks for the fun post. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the rest of this series.
    The Messy Organic Mum recently posted..Making KefirMy Profile

    • says

      Like I said my mom was not happy when they came for Christmas this year, but they adjusted. It still baffles me that my mom will only take a specific kind of vitamin because it “doesn’t release free radicals”, but has no qualms with using the microwave for all sorts of things.
      May be if you left food for your son that is super easy to reheat or doesn’t need heating it would go smoother?!?
      Sara Shay @YourThrivingFamily recently posted..Kitchen Tools of the Trade: Not the MicrowaveMy Profile

  3. says

    While I have been reading about the health hazards of micorwaves for a while, and I had mentioned to my hubby that I might like to replace ours with a toaster oven, he was not wild about it…. and then, about 2 months after I simply dropped the subject, our {very old} microwave died….. and he’s not been gung-ho about getting another one. I may get that toaster oven afterall :) The Lord works in mysterious ways?
    tascha recently posted..sharing JesusMy Profile

  4. says

    We got rid of ours ten years ago. We used to use it all of the time, but I read something by Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions/Weston Price) and I could no longer let the thing remain in our house. There have been a few times when the speed would have come in handy, but the negative aspects made me happy with my decision. There are so many things with the nation’s food supply that we cannot do much about. This is something good I can do for my family. I’ve been preaching No Microwaves since I first read how bad they are. People think I’m nuts! Good post. Spread the word!

  5. Tia says

    We don’t have a microwave anymore…haven’t for a good year now. I still haven’t figured out how you heat up a rice sock though. Suggestions?? I’ve been using a heating pad with a damp towel in it, but it’s just not the same.

  6. Susan says

    What a timely post! We replaced both our toaster and microwave with a toaster oven about three weeks ago. I never imagined I would love a toaster oven as much as I do. I’ve found it to be a wonderfully convenient appliance. I’ve been baking mini muffins almost daily for my family. It’s very easy to reheat food on a plate or soups on the stove. I melt butter or coconut oil on the stove. Popcorn is cooked on the stove. I have an electric kettle for hot water. I haven’t missed my microwave at all! I even found a cookbook at our library called Pop it in the Toaster Oven that has a large variety of recipes for everything from snacks to soups to meals. My favorite benefit of having a toaster oven is that is uses 1/3 to 1/2 the electricity of my oven – quite a money saver when I’m baking!

    • says

      So can you put leftovers, casseroles, etc. on a plate and heat them in this toaster oven? Does the plate (like a Corelle plate) get too hot? The thing I miss most about the microwave is fewer dishes to wash (since you can heat right on your eating plate). Right now we heat leftovers up in a pot with water in the bottom, on the stove, but that makes for a lot of pots to wash, considering my digestive need for “a number of small meals” throughout the day!
      Christa Upton recently posted..I’m on Marji Laine’s Website! :)My Profile

      • Susan says

        Christa, yes! The plates do get hot, however. Not sure about Corelle, but my dishes are dishwasher/oven safe. I keep a potholder right by the toaster oven and today I picked up an oven mitt so it would be easy for my older kids (9 &11) to remove their plates from it.

  7. Beth says

    I moved into a place on my own this past June. I did not have a microwave. I kept meaning to buy one, but as a mom-to-be, I had other priorities. Now, 8 months later, I still have no need for one. I use the stove top to warm up some things. I heat water for tea on the stove. I should invest in a toaster oven – they look like they are pretty nifty.

  8. Maureen says

    A LONG time ago (before microwave ovens were even available) I was on a school schedule that brought me home about a hour after the family finished eating dinner. My mom would put all the dinner food on a plate and set the plate on top of a pot with a little water in it. Then she would put a pot lid over the food. By keeping the water at a low simmer the food was piping hot when I arrived home.

  9. Juli says

    We got rid of our microwave years ago. Well we moved from a place with a built in to one without and just never bought one. Never turned back. I bought a veggie steamer that works wonders for reheating food. We use the oven for pizza.
    My father in law thinks we are nuts but I think we are better for it.

  10. says

    Interesting post. Not sure I could do it. I don’t cook meals with our microwave but we re-heat a lot. When our last one went out, it was a week before we got another one and we all nearly went crazy. I guess I would if I felt confident it was bad for us.

    I have a toaster oven but it’s in the storage room. I don’t like it. And it took just as long to pre-heat as the oven did. I found it wasn’t worth the counter space it took up so I put it downstairs. I’ll have to give this some thought.

    • says

      We had a toaster oven years ago (when we had a microwave as well) and like you it took up space and I barely used it. So I got rid of it.
      Yes, it does take longer to heat stuff up, so it does take some planning. It does heat more evenly though.
      Despite the “research”, logically it seems like it isn’t the best thing to do to food. But giving it up isn’t for everyone :)
      Sara Shay @YourThrivingFamily recently posted..Kitchen Tools of the Trade: Not the MicrowaveMy Profile

  11. Tamara Sz says

    Ours died about a year ago (maybe more??) and we never replaced it. At first, the hubs really wanted to get another one, but I asked for 1 month without it. Then I said “can we try another month?” and eventually he also agreed that we could live without it. Sure, sometimes we miss the convenience (softening butter quickly, heating up leftovers) but overall, I’m totally happy with our toaster oven (we already had one when our micro died) and our stovetop.

  12. Lauren says

    I have a cousin who absolutely refuses to ever use one and has never had one. She has a masters degree in nursing and healing touch, and her husband is a horticulturist, so I’d say they don’t come by this stance in ignorant bliss. Personally, I think microwaves are great for heating coffee and leftover Chinese, and except for that and occasional veggie heating (ala “steam in the bag”), I don’t use the microwave for cooking, and I sure never heat anything in it in plastic. In other words, I basically don’t trust microwaves but do occasionally use them.

  13. Rachel S says

    We have been a microwave/cable free family for 4 years. Getting rid of these items was the best decision I ever made.

  14. says

    We lent our microwave to a friend a few months ago and I don’t miss it at all. My husband wouldn’t mind getting it back, but I think you just gave me a brilliant idea. For years he’s been begging for a toaster oven, but I couldn’t understand any “need” for it. Now, if he wants the micro back, maybe I can bargain for a toaster oven instead. Genius!
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  17. Cryket says

    My friends would probably call me crunchy, health-conscious, etc., and I’m totally into using food for health and all that jazz. All of us in my family are in one way or another gluten-free, dairy-free or paleo, and we cook “real food” only. :) All that said, my own research never lead me to throw my microwave to the curb. I never found solid evidence and documentation to reject the convenience of my microwave so we still have ours, and I love it! Recently, ours died and we had to go about two weeks without one. I don’t want to say we couldn’t live without it, because probably my favorite appliance in my kitchen is my convection toaster oven. However, it was a good day when our new one was installed. Until more scientific evidence can prove the hazards of microwaves (and if that happens, I will seriously reconsider my stance), I will reheat without guilt! :)

  18. melinda labombard says

    funny that I should see this post this morning:) we have moved into a previously owned home and it doesn’t have a microwave,so with that being said,I told my hubby that we should go without and see how it goes,it has been 2 weeks and I don’t miss it :) I like the toaster oven idea,may try that out:)

  19. Nicole says

    We got rid of our microwave on accident (we moved to a new location and didn’t realize it didn’t have a microwave). At first we searched for one but decide 1) we could live without it and 2) it is way healthier for us. We actually do not have a toaster oven either and get along just fine! I am amazed at how many people come over and act like there is no possible way to function without one. Call me “old fashioned” but I love it!

  20. says

    My husband & I had a microwave for the first 4 years of our marriage (we are at 4 years & 1 month now), but when we moved this past January, we moved into a house without a microwave & we had given ours away. There’s still a learning curve with reheating foods without a microwave, but I’m learning to do without one. I do see a need to plan ahead more with meals and I’m cooking on a smaller scale (one breakfast each day instead of cooking five breakfasts in one day & reheating it each morning).

  21. Barb says

    I don’t mean to sound difficult, but isn’t much of this for those with the luxury of time to actually cook and sit down to eat? A 30- minute lunch break is a luxury for most nurses and is only barely time to get through a drive-thru (if you are allowed to leave the facility at lunch) and there is no way one could get a hot meal without nuking it in the break room. The other option is the vending machine….

  22. Gemma says

    We’ve been without a microwave for the most part of 10 years I think, with a short period of having one when we briefly lived in a house that came with one. Years ago, I read a list of 10 reasons why microwaves are bad for you. I was just thinking about it and a few days later I came home to find my husband had actually listened to me and had set the microwave out on the curb with a sign that said, “FREE- yes, it works” on it! I couldn’t believe it and was obviously taken by surprise. I was proud of him. :)

    We just use the oven or the stove. I have a cast-iron griddle that we sometimes heat stuff up on. It’s really not hard. You have some great ideas! I never knew you could steam stuff in a rice cooker. We used to have one but unfortunately, got rid of it because we never used it. My husband also bought a small toaster oven to use at work.

    I also find it strange that people would care that we got rid of our microwave. My MIL got mad about it. She *hates* when we do anything different from the mainstream. It’s so ridiculous. When she cam over and found out we got rid of our microwave she made a whole lot of sour faces and asked WHY!?? She is very helpful and gives us tons of leftovers and used to bring us food back then which I greatly appreciated but when she’d give us instructions about what she brought and how to heat it up, which is almost always in the oven, she made a huge deal of saying she didn’t know HOW we were going to reheat the leftovers. Seriously? for someone who was born so long ago, she acts as if she has never lived a day in her life without a

  23. Amanda M says

    I lived without a microwave for two years before marrying my husband. I moved from my parent’s home after college graduation and just didn’t see the need for the microwave. Instead, I had a 6-slice toaster oven. When I wanted popcorn, I found a tin foil stove-top friendly version instead of the nuker bag varieties. Most likely I would’ve never had a nuker again except for my husband had one when we joined households. Hopefully, when I redo our kitchen, I can get rid of that contraption over my stove. I’d love to have a pretty hood instead.


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