It’s been an interesting journey as I do my best to avoid the microwave. I bought a popcorn popper for a buck at a garage sale, which has helped the microwave popcorn issue. I steam my veggies on the stove. I use a toaster oven or the stovetop to reheat leftovers. We cook our oatmeal with a pot.
The changes have been small, and at first I was open to using the microwave if it was difficult to avoid it. Now it’s like getting a perfect attendance award: after the first 170 days of going to school on time, you’d do anything to make it that last 10 times. I like a challenge, and it’s become almost a game to see if I can stick with it. Here are some the surprising benefits I’ve stumbled upon as I succeed:
- Meat that is thawed in the fridge doesn’t (a) have some weird cooked spots from uneven microwave thawing and (b) is ready the second you walk into the kitchen.
- Popcorn on the stovetop or with a popper is really good and is healthier for my body than microwave popcorn.
- Hot chocolate is actually easier because I don’t have to run the microwave separately for each cup of water. I can flip on the teapot burner, then worry about getting mugs and hot chocolate mix organized. There is less “hands-on” time.
- Second helpings of casserole or soup are ready immediately, not when I scoop another serving and nuke it.
- I don’t always create more dishes: we can put leftovers in our glass dishes, which can go right into the toaster oven in single or double servings, then into the dishwasher to be sparkly clean!
- I am encouraged to eat the same thing as my children or guests, ultimately simplifying lunch preparation and cleanup. I counted the number of items I had to get out one day to feed my preschool-age son and myself. Between two different main courses, condiments, fruit in the yogurt, and drinks, I got up to over 20 things! That’s a bit ridiculous. I was ready to simplify!
- Bread products like pancakes, waffles and biscuits are good in the microwave, but not if you overdo them. Same with the toaster oven: a lot of people don’t like the “toasty” parts of reheating these in the toaster, but you can alleviate that problem by wrapping the items in aluminum foil.
- Leftover pizza, hamburgers and crispy nachos are MUCH tastier in the toaster oven.
- Ditto for anything with meat in it, especially chicken. I hate the toughness of chicken reheated in the microwave. Ask my mom: I used to eat cold leftover stir fry for breakfast in high school!
- I can lightly warm baby’s food in a glass dish with one “toast” cycle. I plan ahead and thaw my food cubes a day in advance, but if I’m in a pinch I can just toast a frozen cube longer.
- I am convinced that heating a pot of leftover soup (or any liquid-based meal) is quicker than heating two (or more!) separate bowls in the microwave, and it definitely makes certain everyone has hot food and eats at the same time. The toaster oven is not always as accommodating.
- I can make other parts of the meal (veggies, cut fruit, salads, drinks) while the leftovers are heating in the toaster oven. Sometimes avoiding the microwave doesn’t make lunch prep take any longer at all.
- The BEST one ever: Everything stays hotter longer when heated “for real”, either on the stove or in the oven. Hot chocolate, soup, steamed vegetables, you name it. Let me repeat that one, it’s worth it: Everything stays hot. That one is really nice.
Please visit the Mind the Microwave in May Invite post if you are willing to be cognizant of your own microwave use. A challenge is fun!
Find More about Minding the Microwave:
- The Challenge
- The Invitation
- Research Notes, part one: Breastmilk
- 10 Tips for Avoiding the Microwave
- Time Management/Fewer Dishes Tips
- Research Notes, part two: Radiation Danger
A fun note: I got to guest post at Kelly the Kitchen Kop this week! You can read my post here, but I’ll warn you: if you’re really depending on these baby steps, there’s a reason I posted over there and not here. 🙂