How to Live Without a Microwave

How to Live Without a Microwave | Roots & Boots

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When we discovered a microwave-free kitchen on our new farm, it felt like a sign: We don’t use a microwave.  The new farm has no microwave.  Ergo, we were meant to live here!

Are you wondering how in the world we can live without a microwave, and why anyone would want to?  I’m glad you asked.

How to Live Without a Microwave | Roots & Boots
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Our Pending Kitchen Renovation

You may remember that we originally planned to re-do the farm kitchen right away, but then changed plans and overhauled the laundry / mud room, guest bathroom and master bathroom instead.

We’re currently taking a break from major renovations for both emotional and financial reasons: renovating is both stressful and expensive!

While the dark, dated kitchen drives me crazy every single day, I’m actually thankful we didn’t rush into a full on kitchen renovation.  If we had renovated the kitchen right away, I know we would have made decisions we’d later regret.

By taking some time to live in the space, we’re formulating a better plan that will make the eventual kitchen renovation much more efficient.

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The Jetson Bar & Other Quirks

When we do get around to renovating the kitchen, we definitely plan to address the elevated dishwasher (yes, really – #1), remove the dated appliance garage (#2), and totally rework a second tiered island that defies explanation (#3).  The lower tier is six inches below standard counter height with a strange built-in power strip while the curved bar-height counter reminds us of the Jetsons’ kitchen.

We’ll also get rid of the Viking range with the huge grill in the middle and one of those fancy ventilators that rises up out of the island (instead of an overhead range hood).  It sounds great, but it makes me crazy!  I’d trade the fancy Viking range-n-grill (#4) for a six-burner range any day.

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What, No Microwave?

One of the unique features I love about our current kitchen, and do not plan to change, is that it has no microwave.  Yes, you read that right: I do not have (or want) a microwave.

At our previous house we actually chose to live without a microwave, except for heating up our beloved neck wrapsThankfully, it turns out that an oven works just fine for heating neck wraps.

In fact, we schemed various ways to repurpose the microwave space.  Take it out and add another cabinet or shelf?  Store dishes or baking pans in the unused microwave?

The Microwave: Genius or Dangerous?

Microwaves came onto the scene after World War II and became more affordable for residential use in the 1970’s.  I was born in 1978 and can still remember when my parents purchased our first microwave oven.

Sort of like this one.

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At first, the microwave seemed like such a great invention.  What could be better than reheating leftovers or cooking meals in a flash?

Recently, however, some experts have questioned the safety of using radiation waves to heat food.  Certain studies have indicated reduced nutritional value of microwaved foods and potential dangers (like cancer) from repeated exposure to microwave radiation (as well as radiation from devices like cell phones and computers).

Personally, I don’t like the (mushy, bland) taste of microwaved foods.  And I prefer to reduce my family’s exposure to radiation.  We can’t (or won’t) live without our cell phones or laptop computers, but it’s been pretty simple for us to ditch the microwave.

How to Live Without a Microwave

We’ve found plenty of ways to cook and reheat food without a microwave…

Reheating Food

It’s pretty simple to reheat food in a toaster oven or on the stove.  I will admit that my family resisted a bit during our transition to life without a microwave, but we all adjusted and now it feels totally normal.

1. Use your toaster oven.

We use our toaster oven like crazy!  It’s perfect for reheating leftovers and baked goods. 

I use glass food storage containers that can take leftovers from the fridge to the oven.  Baked goods like biscuits or muffins sit right on the oven rack.  

If you choose to live without a microwave, I highly recommend investing in a good toaster oven. 

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2. Use the stove. 

Yes, reheating soup or chili on the stove top means you’ll have to wash an extra pan.  It’s really not a big deal, though, especially if you can train yourself to soak dirty pans in water right away.

Reheating Hot Drinks

When I first considered going microwave-free, a big sticking point involved reheating hot beverages.  It’s so easy to nuke that cold cup of coffee (or in my case, Dandy Blend).

How does one reheat hot drinks without a microwave?

1. Pour smaller amounts

If you usually have half a cup of cold coffee leftover, then start with only half a cup.  Let your coffee pot or tea kettle do the work of keeping your drink hot until you’re ready to drink it!

2. Use an insulated travel mug

Travel mugs aren’t just for travel!  Put them to use at home, too, to keep your drinks hot for hours.

An added bonus is that most travel mugs are spill proof, which is handy when there are littles around.  My favorite travel mug is made of nontoxic stainless steel with a spill-proof lid.

3. Use the toaster oven

We use our toaster oven so much that we finally switched to a bigger model, and this new oven easily accommodates our coffee mugs.  Hooray!

Tip: I often pour my cooled beverage into a glass measuring cup and use that for reheating in the toaster oven.  When it’s nice and hot, I pour it back into my mug.  This saves me from holding a scalding hot, reheated mug.

Heating Neck Wraps

Neck wraps are amazing!  Have you tried one?  We love them in the winter when we just can’t get warm enough and they also work well for applying hot compresses with essential oil.

Before we moved to the new farm (where we live without a microwave), neck wraps were literally the only thing we heated in our microwave.  I wondered if we’d have to give them up at our new house (because I didn’t plan to purchase a microwave just for heating neck wraps!), and was relieved to discover they can be safely heated in a regular oven.

1. Temperature

Set the temperature to about 200°/250º F.  Higher temperatures may result in scorched rice (inside the neck wrap).

2. Water

Always place a small bowl of water in the oven when heating neck wraps, to prevent the rice inside the wrap from scorching.

3. Rack position

Please place your oven rack in the middle of the oven and make sure your neck wraps aren’t too close to a heating element.

4. Time

Set a timer for 10-15 minutes.  Yes, this takes longer than the microwave but we got used to it and so will you!

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Thawing Frozen Food

Many people are accustomed to thawing frozen foods like vegetables or ground meat in the microwave, but this is actually a tricky business.  The microwave heats so unevenly that to thaw foods properly, they must be must flipped, rotated, or repositioned.  And it’s easy to accidentally cook part of the food while the center remains frozen.  Not good.

Whether or not you use a microwave regularly, I advise against using it to thaw food.  Instead, this is what I recommend…

1. Plan ahead.

I’m a big fan of meal planning.  I plan one week at a time, and leave the week’s meal plan out for everyone to see.  We use a simple meal plan notepad, and next to each day’s meal plan I also note what should be done that day to prepare for the next day.

So if I plan to cook a whole chicken on Wednesday, I will write “thaw chicken” on Tuesday.  Every night before bed I double check the meal plan to make sure we’ve retrieved all necessary items from the freezer in preparation for the next day’s meals.

I know this goes against food safety protocols, but I have always thawed at room temperature.  We get meat out the night before and leave it out all night on the counter or in the sink.  In the morning it goes in the crockpot or into the fridge to wait for dinner prep. 

2. Use the oven. 

Thawing foods in the oven takes a bit longer, but you don’t have to babysit it as much as with the microwave.  It’s best to keep the oven temperature to about 200º-300º.

3. Don’t thaw.

Toss frozen veggies right into your pot of soup or hot skillet!  Veggies thaw quickly and some can even be cut while mostly frozen.  This is true for carrots and broccoli, among others.  I almost never thaw veggies before cooking.

4. For glass jars…

I love to freeze foods in glass jars, especially broth and soups.  Here are all my best tips for thawing foods frozen in jars: How to Freeze (& Thaw) Food in Glass Jars.

Cooking Food

At this point of our discussion, this point is probably unnecessary, right?  I do not recommend cooking food in the microwave!

Microwaved foods tend to be less nutritious and less appetizing than conventionally prepared foods, but I do understand the appeal of a quick meal.  If you’re ready to make the jump from nuking food in the microwave but you need simple, streamlined recipes to minimize your time in the kitchen, try these strategies.

1. Use a Crockpot (or Instant Pot)

Many crockpot meals are just as easy as cooking with the microwave and the results are often much healthier.  Check out my family’s favorite crockpot recipes here.

I don’t own an Instant Pot but fans rave over this newish kitchen appliance.  (On Amazon, the Instant Pot currently has a 4.5 star rating with almost 31,000 reviews, wow!)  The Instant Pot strikes me as a merge between the microwave and the crockpot: healthy cooking, done fast!  Apparently you can even cook frozen meats in a jiffy!

2. Batch cook

If you’re going to cook chili or carnitas, why not double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe?  Then you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunches during the week or to freeze for future meals.  Work smarter, not harder!


3. Make soup

Soup is my favorite.  Most soup recipes are simple to prepare, easy to reheat, and easy to freeze.  If you can get into a good rhythm of keeping homemade bone broth on hand, it will add amazing nutrients to your homemade soups.

Add nutrient-dense crackers or biscuits and a few toppings like cheese, avocado, etc. and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Check out my favorite soup recipes here.

4. Embrace leftovers

Especially meat!  I love to batch cook a bunch of meat and then use the leftovers in new ways throughout the week.

If you’ve toyed with the idea of ditching your microwave, I hope my experience encourages you to make the jump.  Even if you’re not ready to abandon your microwave completely, maybe you’ll consider taking a few steps to use it less.

Yes, it is totally possible to live without a microwave!

Do you use a microwave?  Would you ever choose to live without a microwave?  What would you miss most about your microwave?

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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Sarah on 03/12/2019 at 3:24 pm

    My first thought was, ‘I can’t imagine life without a microwave’ and yet now that I have read through to the end, I can in fact see myself without a microwave. It would certainly take a bit of adjustment, but I think going without a microwave would be good. Now granted, I also don’t have a toaster oven, so some things may be extra difficult, but I think with time I would figure things out.

    • Kathleen on 03/13/2019 at 5:38 pm

      It was the same for us! Seemed crazy at first, but now we are totally used to it.

  2. Sandy on 03/14/2019 at 5:43 am

    Hi, I read your article, its have good information for us but i can’t imagine my life with out microwave oven because we are habitual. can you please suggest me another option of microwave oven.

  3. Sonya on 03/14/2019 at 10:35 am

    We haven’t owned a microwave in many years. (Probably 6-7 years) Our microwave died and I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a new one right away. I wanted to get rid of it prior to it conking out… I challenged my family to see how long we could go without getting one. Some in my family would get one immediately and told me that when they move into their own home their first purchase is a microwave! Haha I only missed the microwave to soften butter for baking. I use the toaster oven for that if I forget to get butter out of the fridge. The toaster oven is the appliance that I can’t(!) easily live without!

    • Kathleen on 03/15/2019 at 3:43 pm

      Yay! Good for you, Sonya!

  4. Diane on 01/03/2020 at 7:47 am

    We have been living in our current home for 16 1/2 years without a microwave. We had one but it was old and we decided we just don’t like microwaves. We have never said, I wish we still had a microwave!

  5. Sarah on 06/23/2020 at 3:28 pm

    I’m literally reading this because my microwave broke a month ago and I was trying to consider if a replacement was even necessary!

    I bought a hot water bottle because I wasn’t sure if I could put my magic bags in the oven. Do you think they’d be too close to the element in a toaster oven? With it getting warmer, I avoid using my oven as much as possible.

    • Kathleen on 06/23/2020 at 8:04 pm

      Hmmm, two thoughts: 1) are you able to reposition the rack to the middle of your toaster oven? (Mine has that feature.) This would raise the neck wraps/magic bags away from the heating element. 2) if you try it, I’d definitely recommend staying nearby to keep an eye on it!

  6. Cindy on 10/03/2022 at 4:47 pm

    When we bought our “new” old house, it didn’t come with a microwave. We are both in our late 60’s and I have had a microwave since the 80’s. I thought, we lived without one before we got it..we can do it now. 3 years later a lot of people think we are crazy, but we still don’t have one. It’s not that hard! I’ll never have another one. You haven’t lived till you reheat pizza in a toaster oven!😋 no more mushy pizza for me!

    • Kathleen Henderson on 10/03/2022 at 5:12 pm

      Yes!! I love my toaster oven. 🙂

  7. Heather on 05/30/2023 at 6:23 am

    I found your article via Pinterest while searching “living without a microwave.” I think mine is on its way out – I now have to nuke things twice as long to make sure they’re hot which makes me nervous. I don’t currently have the extra funds to replace it and in my tiny apartment kitchen, counter space is minimal. Between my toaster oven and microwave, I don’t have any counter left. Sooo that’s what led me to looking at life without one, at least for now.

    Thank you for the article and the great ideas! I don’t have a stove to use, so I’m happy to see so many of your points revolve around the toaster oven. I love mine!

    • Kathleen Henderson on 05/30/2023 at 10:46 am

      Three cheers for the humble toaster oven–it’s definitely an underrated kitchen appliance. 🙂

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