I'm going to give you 5 practical tips on how to easily survive life without a microwave followed by a list of sensible reasons why we decided to not include a microwave in our farmhouse kitchen design/remodel at all.
Life without a microwave is actually very easy if you never got used to one in the first place. I purposely chose to exclude a microwave from my dream farmhouse kitchen renovation. I'm here to tell you that you really don't need one at all and give you sensible alternative solutions.
The farmhouse kitchen we moved into this year had a kitchen going back 50 years.
(The house itself dates back to the 1860s.)
Now the weirdly-fitted old oak cabinets are gone. The old appliances (including an ancient microwave) have been donated or taken to the dump. The walls are gone. All that beautiful brick exterior is exposed.
Inside those walls, we found some surprises, but that is an entirely different topic.
This is about life without a microwave. I'm here to tell you, it's an easy and simple life.
I grew up without a microwave in our tiny apartment and the first time I tried to use one — to melt some chocolate for a snack — I left the shiny metallic wrapping paper on.
Sparks (literally) flew as I stared in awe and fear.
Luckily my boss was there to open the door and stop whatever was happening inside the microwave from getting worse.
I'll never forget the bewildered look she gave me as I stood there.
I was a teenager.
"I've ne-never used one before" I stammered like some idiot.
"I really hope you marry rich" she responded with a not-unfriendly smirk but very slanty side-eye.
My mother, an immigrant from a tiny Croatian village didn't grow up with indoor plumbing or electricity, never mind the sorcery of a microwave.
Even after she left her ancient village for our (still actually pretty ancient) Croatian hometown, something like a microwave would have been a luxury western good in communist Yugoslavia.
(Come to think of it, I don't think I have ever seen a microwave in a Croatian woman's kitchen? Is that right? I feel like that can't be right?)
After we moved to Canada my mother was eventually introduced to microwaves but she mistrusted them and their strange abilities.
She decided they made food unhealthy and so that idea stuck with me too even though I logically understand that it's probably not accurate.
So I'm not actually "anti-microwave" or super pretentious or anything like that, I just grew up never using one, and then later on as an adult, I just never got into the habit either.
However, my experience is not normal for someone my age. Most adults use microwaves regularly. But if you suddenly finding yourself living without a microwave for whatever reason, I'm here to tell you, it's not a bad life.
Here is what to do instead.
5 Tips For Life Without a Microwave
Buy A Stainless Steel or Bamboo Steamer
I have a 10-inch bamboo steamer and I use it regularly. It's a wonderful and practical appliance that takes up barely any room in your kitchen, and unlike a microwave, can be tucked away afterward.
Use it to steam vegetables in a manner that doesn't turn them into mush. Steam dumplings quickly and easily.
You can even line a steamer with parchment paper to reheat certain foods.
Bamboo steamers can be stacked up high to steam many different varieties of food at once. You can find all sorts of this type of steamer online and also in Chinatown.
Stainless steel baskets are also a great choice and are dishwasher safe.
Make Better Popcorn Without a Microwave
The best popcorn is made in one of two ways, and neither has anything to do with a microwave and those weird packets full of artificial flavours and weird oils.
The first way is a simple, small air popper. This is what we used growing up and it brings back many nostalgic memories of my mother making "popscorn" and melting real butter to pour over top.
The second is on the stovetop. This method lets you utilize whatever oil you want and the result is amazing.
(I'll post my recipe for this method soon.)
Buy A Beautiful Old-Fashioned or Contemporary Electric Kettle
Apparently, people use microwaves to boil water which I actually never knew was a thing you could do in a microwave.
I'm also currently on the lookout for a vintage copper kettle.
Electric kettles come in a myriad of styles and finishes too if that is more your taste.
Reheat Food In a Toaster Oven
They use less energy than your huge oven and thus are perfect to reheat food amongst a myriad of other uses like toasting bread or making mini pizzas.
They can also be put away when not in use depending on the size of yours — unlike microwaves.
The Small Multi-Purpose Pot
If you want to melt butter, chocolate, or reheat coffee that has gone cold, the best way is with a small multi-purpose pot on the stovetop.
I use mine daily and it's small size makes cleanup and storage easy.
Stovetop reheating and melting ensures even heat distribution and predictable results.
I really fail to see how using a microwave is easier when you have to constantly stop the microwave and stir whatever you're melting or heating.
I'd rather spend the extra minute at the stove. But that's just me and my opinion.
So, Why Not Have a Microwave?
Well, why have one? When did microwaves become this standard, default appliance like a range or refrigerator is? To the extent that life without a microwave requires special considerations?
The reality is that there are better ways to do any of the things microwaves do.
They are also rather clunky and ugly. I don't want to look at it on my counter.
And cleaning a microwave built in over a stove or range is disgusting. I am never doing that again.
We Purposely Designed Our Dream Kitchen With No Microwave
After living in rental apartments for all of my adult life I met my husband and moved into his condo which we sold last year after finding our dream homestead/hobby farm.
Two weeks after moving into the 150+ farmhouse this February of 2021, my intrepid husband starting knocking down walls and tearing out floors.
The worst part of the house was the inefficiently laid-out 50+-year-old kitchen that had no real storage and no practical counter space for food prep. There was no island and the sink was shallow and small.
Our old condo kitchen was actually considerably larger and much better organized.
The kitchen is the most important room in the house for me and I was so happy that the previous owner had not remodeled it as it meant I could do it myself from scratch and truly make it a dream kitchen.
As we studied design and drew up our plans it occurred to me that despite never using a microwave — even I considered it some staple, automatic appliance.
But why? It isn't.
We opted to leave out the microwave entirely which a few people commented might turn off any potential future buyers.
But honestly? No one has ever not bought a house because the kitchen lacked a microwave.
And besides, we have no plans to leave this little country oasis.
As of right now, the kitchen is still being built and I'm writing this from my in-law's basement as my 9-month old baby naps right next to me.
I'm excited to share the design journey and process, one we put a lot of thought into, and of course — the eventual reveal.
So if you are at the start of your own renovation or farmhouse restoration, consider that you may not actually want to include a microwave.
You certainly don't need one, no matter what you may be used to or what other people may tell you.
Life without a microwave is pretty simple.