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Ditching the mircowave?

I recently replaced my fridge with a taller model and had to move the microwave to the counter - now occupying precious countertop in a small row-house kitchen - I rarely use it - right now it is storing bread extra bread flour.

Anybody ditch a the microwave and regret it - I am thinking I can live without pretty easily - don't remember the last time I used it to do anything but defrost soup and warm food for a fussy cold-sensitive Chihuahua

I think its a goner - anything I should reconsider.

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  1. If that's all you use it for, then go ahead. Why would you even consider keeping it? We use it to reheat leftovers all the time; I personally would not want to go without it.

    1. Put it in another room for a couple of days and see how many times you reach for it. If you don't miss it, store it or get rid of it.

      9 Replies
        1. re: iluvcookies

          If you apply this logic to everything in your home, you will end-up with a lot of free space. Then you will have no choice but to get rid of that space...

          1. re: JMPSR

            Say what? We're almost done with our kitchen reno. Don't make me sell the house now!

            1. re: DuffyH

              Hi, DuffyH,
              I was only alluding to the inescapable reality that I now predict you are about to experience. Your remodeled space will need new equipment, or at least, if you dont replace them, you will have to hide some of the contraptions that populated your kitchen surfaces. In this process you will eventually calm down and learn to live with the eyesore; eventually you will see a new microwave oven pop up in your environment. You have been warned.

              1. re: JMPSR


                Whew! I'm so glad I misunderstood. I thought you were alluding to physically eliminating the excess space, but I see you mean filling it. That's completely different, of course. :)

                We always thought we'd need a new microwave. Ours is the sole remaining white appliance in our kitchen. Sadly, since we painted our upper cabs white 2 weeks ago we learned that the micro is really yellow, not white at all.

                So our plan now is to buy a range hood, see if we can live without the nuker for a while, then if not, buy a mid-size countertop unit.

                On the plus side, our new GE profile induction range's oven is so heat-tight that it barely adds any heat to our kitchen. We may no longer need the Breville, whose sole purpose was to cut down on excess kitchen heat, and can stick the new micro in it's old place. Having a full size oven, a Breville oven AND a microwave seems like way too much conspicuous consumption to me.

                FWIW, the Breville did it's job admirably. Our old POS GE Spectra oven did a lovely job of warming the kitchen. Just the thing to inspire love for it during a Tampa summer, LOL.

                1. re: DuffyH

                  Breville sells a fabulous microwave oven in Australia. This unit has advanced electronic controls (and brain) like no other unit in the world. It should eventually be available in America. We might have to be patient however.

                  1. re: JMPSR

                    So funny you should write that. Is this the one? SLT featured it in an email earlier this week.


                    1. re: DuffyH

                      Yes, this is the model I was referring to, with voltage reduced to 110V (this seems to be the only difference with the Australian model which is 220V).

          2. re: iluvcookies

            actually, JTP is already doing a version of this:
            To use the mw, s/he has to move the flour, put it somewhere, use the oven, (probably have to wait for heat and/or moisture to dissipate) then return the flour.

          3. I'm 26 and haven't used a microwave since I was 20.

            Getting rid of the microwave is the single best thing I can recommend to people for learning to cook. It prevents laziness and encourages use of the stove and oven--or, rather, mandates it.

            The few things that a microwave are better at than more "traditional" cooking methods are steaming certain seafoods in shell, warming milk/cream to scalding with little to no chance of scorching, and oil-less cooking. These are all things that can be accomplished using other devices that most people have handy anyways.

            Defrosting meat was a big one for me for a while, but careful planning (to allow time to defrost any frozen items) prevents any hiccups or you may purchase unfrozen meat and use it before needing to freeze it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cynic2701

              I agree that it's definitely a great tool in learning how to cook and think through meals in a more long term way. I lived without one for much of my 20's, and at no point did I respond "I'm going to forgo some extra entertainment funds and counter space so that I can own one".

              However as someone who's single and tries to cook in large batches to portion out during the week - the microwave is an amazing tool to have around. But that being said, it's really more of a reflection of how you're cooking/eating. Within the past year I've gone from living without a microwave to having one - and I do notice that I've cut back on eating out during those "ultra lazy/tired/sick" nights when in the past I might have tempted by a convenient take away/delivery. Whether it's an emergency frozen item or a premade meal, there's no denying an increase of simplicity and clean up with the microwave.

              1. re: cresyd

                We use our micro almost every day to thaw bread, steam frozen veg, etc... and as you mentioned, it's great for those days when you just don't want to cook.

                We're finishing up our kitchen update and have just decided to change from a OTR micro/hood to a separate hood and a countertop micro unit. But we realized that we seldom need the humongous size of the OTR models, so we'll get a much smaller one. As long as it holds a dinner plate, that should do it.

            2. That's interesting. I moved into a new apartment in January, with a small kitchen, with no real functional space for a microwave. i thought I would figure out a place to put it eventually, but I haven't encountered a serious situation where I just had to use a microwave. For me it turns out, microwaves are convenient, and not really necessary if you're handy in the kitchen.

              6 Replies
              1. re: jasonpatrick

                I am quite "handy" in the kitchen and still I use a microwave. There is no relationship between how accomplished a cook is and using a microwave oven. Many of the best, high end restaurants use a microwave somewhere in the preparation or finishing of some food items. A microwave oven in 2014 is a great appliance to have in the kitchen if you have the room and you utilize the right way.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Understood. My personal experience is that I realized that since I'm short on space, a microwave turned out to not be a necessity for me. Maybe something will come up to make me rethink this. Just sharing my experience.

                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    concur with ttoommyy and want to add a "for instance"

                    it is always exceptionally convenient for me to cook lentils and other dried legumes in the microwave.

                    i put the legumes and water in a big pyrex casserole, cover it with it's glass lid, program the microwave and leave the house. (when making lentils there isn't even any need for soaking).

                    when i arrive home the legumes are perfectly cooked.
                    absolutely no need to stay at home.
                    an added bonus is that in the warm months the house doesn't get heated up.

                    it's a similar story for rice.

                    since 90% of the main dishes i cook are legume-based, the microwave is a terrific appliance for me.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Someone on CHOW posted a link a while back to cooking risotto in the MW. I never followed up and I can't find the link now.

                      1. re: law_doc89

                        I did this, sort of, in a holiday flat where microwave was the only cooking option. No pre-sauteeing was possible but a big dish of rice, chicken, peas, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and chicken stock did cook and become: not bad.

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        A microwave is also excellent for cooking couscous. I figured that out at the house of some friends without a couscoussière or anything good for steaming, who wanted to simply cook it like rice.

                        However I've never had one, as I have equipment to steam, and I really don't have room for it and my beloved countertop convection oven.

                  2. If I had to do it over, I would get one that is also a convection oven.

                    1. We're a household where 99% of the cooking is from scratch, and the microwave is the only appliance taking up workspace in the kitchen, apart from the tiny two-slice toaster. It's one of the only five electric small appliances I own (the other three: induction unit, immersion blender, and coffee grinder).

                      The microwave is my favorite way to cook bacon, steam-cook beets, chayote, and similar vegetables, reheat foods and heat ingredients (especially if it can happen right in their glass or plastic fridge containers, sparing the cleanup of yet another pan), and it's how we make popcorn.

                      True, all these things can be accomplished with the stove or oven -- just not quite as quickly or requiring more attention. But I have enough workspace that I'm happy to have the microwave where it is, opening onto a solid, level surface. If you're tight on counter and workspace, then it's a tougher call; I agree with the suggestion by others to move it out for a while and see how often you feel the need of it.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ellabee

                        no food processor or mixer? i'm impressed!

                        1. re: eLizard

                          I'm sure I'd have kept my mother's sturdy Sunbeam mixer if either of us were fonder of cakes or cookies -- but after nearly a decade went by without my using it, I took it to the Habitat store. The rotary eggbeater did a great job with egg whites and whipped cream before I was given the hugely useful immersion blender (with whisk attachment). And I was mighty glad for the rotary beater again in a recent power outage <g>. I'm impressed by cooks who can do those jobs with a whisk; I just can't.

                          It helps that my favorite kinds of cake are gingerbread-y ones that don't require creaming the butter and sugar.

                          If we ever get a separate freezer, which would give me the room to store homemade pie and tart crusts, I might begin to yearn for a food processor; pastry dough is one of its real strengths. But I'd have to be shredding or slicing a heck of a lot of veg before I'd want a machine for that -- I'd rather be cutting than washing and storing equipment. The Rosle big-hole grater has also made mass shredding a much more pleasant job.

                          1. re: ellabee

                            I'd like to get rid of my big KA food processor, but for two of the things it does, I just can't imagine doing them manually. I use it to grate parmesan in bulk, because I use so much of it. I also use it to grate soap for laundry detergent, which requires even more horsepower than the parmesan.

                            If there's something else that will do those jobs as easily, and without making me break a sweat, I'd donate it in a heartbeat. For everyday tasks I usually use my Cuisinart Mini-Prep, hand grater or a knife.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Huh. I also want to purchase a FP just so I can do three things:

                              - Make lots of salsa
                              - Grate lots of cheese
                              - Make bread dough

                              Sounds ridiculous but I also use a ton of grated parmesan and would grately appreciate a better solution.

                              1. re: Shazam

                                <Sounds ridiculous but I also use a ton of grated parmesan and would grately appreciate a better solution.>

                                Ha! Grately. Good one. :-D

                                When you get your FP, make sure it's got a really strong motor. You're gonna need it. My SIL can apparently grate parmesan in her Vitamix. But I bet it sucks at salsa. Everyone who's ever seen an infomercial knows Ninja's the best for salsa. ;)

                      2. I like to give a quick zap to cookies to freshen them up a bit, or a sandwich bun to give it some warmth - both take around 10 seconds or so. Reheating leftovers is about the only other thing we ever use ours for, though I often do that in the oven. If I wanted to do the former - zap a cookie or a sandwich bun/roll - without a microwave, how would you suggest I do that? Waiting 5 minutes for an oven to heat up or something seems a bit silly, but so does having a 1 cubic foot "thing" taking up space for such a simple task when I think about it. Good post, now I'm interested, despite our microwave being nearly new from a minor remodel...

                        1. Thanks for all of your thoughtful responses to a sort of obtuse question - I think I am going to do what I did when my car died - go without for awhile and if/when I do replace appreciate more.

                          1. I've never had a microwave in my life, and have never missed it. However, my big toaster oven takes up as much space as a MW - use it several times a day for all kinds of things.

                            1. I barely use mine, and it's been that way for years ... you'll be fine.

                                1. If you get rid of it, your just going to have to replace it with a breadbox, you might as well have a duel purpose breadbox/microwave ;)

                                  Obviously people got by without a microwave for a very long time and didn't starve to death. We were married for about 10 years before we got our first microwave, and we didn't starve. But having had one for a very long time now, there are alternatives, but I think I would miss not having one, it's just so convenient for leftovers and so much faster than conventional ways of warming up food or defrosting frozen packages of soup so you can slip it into a pot.

                                  1. I use my microwave every day. Besides reheating my cup of coffee/tea, we heat milk for hot chocolate, soften butter/cream cheese, make popcorn, nachos, warm breads and rolls, reheat leftovers, steam veggies, start baked potatoes, soften icecream, etc. I even make a few recipes in my microwave, Swedish meatballs, Chicken Fricasee, stuffed mushrooms. I have a microwave cookbook that I inherited that came with my mother's first microwave, a Sharp Carousel Microwave/Convection combo. I would never give it up.

                                    1. We use our microwave everyday. Heat water for tea, defrost meat, reheat leftovers, soups and stew, soften butter, take the chill off cold meat or eggs before cooking, precook quartered potatoes before browning on the stove. etc. But I think it's way too large for the things it's used for. A tiny microwave that would hold a cup of water, a lb of ground meat, a couple of chicken breasts, a bowl or a small plate would be just right and more efficient for our needs instead of the 30" behemoth. The space it takes up isn't proportionate to it's uses.

                                      1. I only use my MW for: (a) taking the hardness edge off butter and icecream; (b) steaming a small quantity of hard vegetables like broccoli; and (c) reheating coffee that's gone cold. It really is mostly a waste of space.

                                        1. You might have a very cranky Chihuahua.

                                          I don't cook in mine very often, but I would miss it if it wasn't there. And mine is a 1988 vintage we gave my (now late) grandmother as a Christmas gift. The little things, melting butter or chocolate for baking, quick re-heating leftovers so the kiddo doesn't go crazy hungry, etc. I can do it on the stove, but I can nuke it faster with less clean up.

                                          1. I'm amused that you have to ask permission to get rid of it, because I have to ask permission to toss things, too! I lived for many years without a microwave, but I recently broke my ankle and we had to ADA my apartment so I could survive on my own and honestly, I wouldn't have survived without it unless I'd hired a chef.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: SamMadHands

                                              Great point! One never knows when one will be incapacitated for any length of time. When I had surgery 2 years ago and was home from work for a month, i depended on my microwave for a lot of things while hubby was at work. There was no way I was going to stand at a stove for 15-20 minutes (and really, I just physically couldn't) when I could zap something in the microwave in a few minutes.

                                              1. re: SamMadHands

                                                When I broke my (left/non-dominant) hand last year, I simplified my cooking, but I didn't use the microwave any more than usual (which is about once in 6 months in my own kitchen). I was able to use my left hand to a limited extent (I couldn't grip anything, but I could use it sort of like a paw). It slowed me down, but it didn't stop me ;) If I put my splint on, I could use the paw to help move the Le Creuset around.

                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                  Well, I had part of my intestine removed and could not stand for long at the stove. The microwave was a godsend for me. I guess it all depends on ones injury/incapacitation.

                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                      I do hope you are better now. That is the kind of pain and "physical insult" that is a gut issue. Sorry...

                                                    2. re: foiegras

                                                      I suspect you're a bit of a Luddite, but I respect you for sticking to your principles. However, unless you walk on your hands and carry hot food and boiling liquids with your toes, I don't believe you're exactly walking a mile in my shoes--so to speak!

                                                      1. re: SamMadHands

                                                        I work in high-tech, and I suppose I am a bit of a Luddite by choice. I subscribe to 'Just because I can, doesn't mean I should.'

                                                    3. re: SamMadHands

                                                      I'm a great cook and cook most things from scratch and I couldn't live without my microwave. I use it to defrost meat at short notice (I don't plan my meals), reheat leftovers, heat milk for cocoa, cook potatoes in their skins (either as an easy meal base, to par-cook for roast potatoes/hashbrowns/sauteed potatoes/homemade chips, to pass through a ricer for lovely mashed potatoes). It's great for saving on dishes because you can do lots of things directly in the cup/dish. This is a boon in my very small, sans-dishwasher kitchen.

                                                      I'm sitting here recovering from a hysterectomy and I would have gone nuts without my microwave. Friends and rellies bring food over for me and I can just heat it up when I'm hungry.

                                                      1. re: Billy33

                                                        Glad you have good food for your hurting tummy!

                                                        1. re: Billy33

                                                          Another hurt chowhoundess! Do hope both you and ttoommyy are on the mend. I've taken lots of food and soup to friends recovering from illness, injuries, or simply pregnancy and imagine they'd bring me a small microwave if I absolutely couldn't cook.

                                                          I have a small kitchen too, and no dishwasher. I don't have a microwave because I have (and love) a countertop convection oven, and don't want to lose what little countertop space I have. If I couldn't chop anything, matters would be different.

                                                          But I'd still bitch if the flatleaf parsley wasn't chopped properly...

                                                      2. Sounds like you answer your own question, so ditch it. I have decent space, so there it is. For: leftovers - though I often throw them in a saucepan w/ water, and make sure they hit safe temps; for frozen foods, some aren't better heated by oven heat and some veggie packs are designed for microwave and they are quite good. But they could probably be steamed to good effect (you need a steaming thing (flower??) to put into your pan or an asparagus steamer - which can be used more broadly.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: danlind3

                                                          Not sure what you mean by hitting "safe temps" when reheating leftovers. Isn't leftover food already cooked? I eat leftovers cold straight from the fridge sometimes. Why do leftovers have to be rehated to a "safe temp?"

                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                            Even in the fridge, things don't last forever. I may be overly safe/paranoid, but if leftover chicken (for example) has been in the fridge for 2+ days, then when I reheat it, I like to get it to safe temps to its core. As the microwave is prone to uneven heating, I usually use a saucepan to reheat.

                                                            1. re: danlind3

                                                              I eat cold 2+ day old chicken, steak, etc. right out of the fridge. If I make a roast beef, I look forward to cold roast beef sandwiches with lots if salt & pepper and mayo a few days later. Same with turkey after Thanksgiving. I would never think of reheating; I love a cold meat sandwich. I am not saying you are wrong at all, it's just that my family has always eaten cold leftovers and I can't ever remember anyone ever getting sick.

                                                              Edit: this idea of reheating leftovers got me thinking. What about restaurants that serve cold meat sandwiche? I am sure they do not make a fresh turkey, roast beef, corned beef, etc. every day. They must keep it at least 2 or 3 days.

                                                        2. I would never want to be without my microwave. I use it daily for boiling water, steaming, and reheating. I hate being hot and it allows me to avoid the stove and oven for a lot of hot-weather cooking.

                                                          No one has yet mentioned that it saves on utility costs since it takes far less energy to cook the same item you'd otherwise need the stove or oven for. That was one of the major selling points in the early days of microwave popularity.

                                                          1. My built-in microwave started to die (smelled of burning rubber when I used it) last spring and I didn't replace it right away. I used it almost exclusively for reheating food, so it didn't seem critical to replace at the time. I tend to cook large quantities of food on Sunday (mostly as a result of low willpower at the farmer's market on Saturday) so I reheat food for my dinner during the week. Well, I found that I was using 2-3 different pots/pans each night for dinner. I wasn't going to change my dinner strategy as I often stay late at work, so cooking every night isn't feasible. And, I try to conserve water, so the dishes don't get done every night either. The pots/pans never got put away, just reused and washed 2-3 times a week.

                                                            I finally replaced the microwave in December (along with the range/oven and dishwasher) and presto-chango, life is back to normal again. Reheating takes a minute or two, and one plate. It saves time and energy, not to mention my sanity.

                                                            1. If you don't use it it's a no-brainer. I use my microwave more than any other kitchen appliance including warming dog food but don't worry about your dog, they all eat when they get hungry enough. It may take a week but they all eat eventually. Dogs can go several weeks without food but need water available @ all times.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: zackly

                                                                Sorry everyone, we've removed a digression about feeding dogs from this thread, as that's a topic that's not covered here on on our Cookware board. If anyone would like your post back, just drop a note to us at moderators@chowhound.com and we can send it to you. Sorry about this!

                                                              2. About two years ago, in order to free up counter space in a small NYC apartment kitchen, I put my toaster oven on the floor under my butcher block table to see whether or not I ever felt the need to haul it out. After about a year, out it went. There wasn't a thing I needed to do that couldn't be done another way and was worth the bother of lifting it off the floor and finding a place to put it temporarily.

                                                                About a year ago, I bought a small, corner microwave oven to free up even more space. In anticipation of purchasing an over-the-range microwave, I donated my still relatively new countertop microwave to a college-bound student. For various reasons, it was another six months before before my over-the-range microwave was installed and I was truly surprised at how much I missed it. I don't really cook in it, except for bacon, but had no idea how many things I used it for until it was no longer there: reheating coffee and leftovers; melting butter and chocolate; warming citrus fruits to get more juice out of them; defrosting; steaming vegetables; cooking corn on the cob; warming plates; drying bread for bread crumbs.

                                                                I'm in total agreement with the recommendation that you put your microwave in deep storage for a while and see whether or not you miss it. I couldn't get over how much I missed mine and how relieved I was when the new one was finally installed.

                                                                1. I simply do not get this sense that ridding ourselves of the dreaded microwave is a cooking badge of honor.
                                                                  It is a false argument to stipulate that owning and using a microwave is tantamount to being lazy or inept at cooking, and eating tv dinners and the like.
                                                                  I'm an accomplished home cook and we eat very little in the way of prepared food. I use my microwave to reheat, defrost and even for functions such as melting (butter, chocolate).
                                                                  Virtually daily.
                                                                  The convenience is wonderful and I adore an evening's dinner which involves nothing but plating and reheating leftovers.
                                                                  If you think you have no use for a microwave, fine.
                                                                  Who cares, really?
                                                                  It doesn't make you Julia Child incarnate.

                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    Nice post. Thank you. I was starting to feel like a pariah for espousing its use.

                                                                    "The convenience is wonderful and I adore an evening's dinner which involves nothing but plating and reheating leftovers."
                                                                    Me too!

                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                      DH and I stop short of genuflecting in front of our built in microwave ;-) One of the best design decisions in our redo in 2012.

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        We have a built in too. To me, it is just another integral part of my cooking routine along with the cook top and oven.

                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          Our's is a drawer built into the slide in range/oven combo. Smaller convection oven below, smooth top range above, microwave drawer in between. it's brilliant. During the summer it's worth having if only for corn on the cob.

                                                                      2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                        I am a retired chef and a proud microwave oven user. I have besides the standard kitchen appliances, from left to right in my small kitchen, a toaster oven, GE Advantium oven (microwave, convection & speedcook combined) stand mixer , blender, food processor, sous vide cooker, deep fryer, rice cooker, coffee grinder/maker. Downstairs, I probably have six slow cookers and tons of less frequently used cooking related "stuff". Of all these tools I use the microwave the most. The primary use is to warm things in their containers. I store primarily in glass. Heating, re-heating, steaming, defrosting, quickly cooking fish/seafood the list is endless. It is an indispensable tool for me especially given the time it saves both cooking & cleaning and it is better for the environment because all the energy it saves.

                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                          Nice to have a professional chime in. Thanks. ;)
                                                                          I think some people have the wrong idea about microwave ovens and wrongfully put them in a category along with convenience foods like Kraft macaroni & cheese and Spaghettios. lol

                                                                      3. re: monavano

                                                                        Thanks, I totally agree. Today already my microwave has done the following:

                                                                        * Defrosted two ciabatta rolls used for kids' lunch sandwiches

                                                                        * Reheated a bowl of chili for one breakfast, from container made over the weekend and kept in the fridge

                                                                        * Reheated a bowl of pasta for another breakfast, from container in the fridge

                                                                        * Reheated bowl of previously cooked oatmeal for my breakfast

                                                                        * Reheated last cup of French press coffee in my travel mug before leaving for work

                                                                        We use the microwave constantly, mainly for thawing and reheating previously cooked food. Of course, if you don't use yours, then by all means get rid of it.

                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          Although I primarily use mine to reheat foods, I also find it very handy to melt butter and chocolate, I use it to make an easy roux (usually as a base for Mac & Cheese), and my favorite application, Michel Richard's Happy Kid Chocolate Pudding.

                                                                          1. re: Jason1

                                                                            I've never thought to make a roux with it. That's very interesting.
                                                                            I will look up Richard's Pudding recipe (and schedule a visit to Central to get a "Kit Kat" Bar!)

                                                                        2. We lived with the one that came built into this house for a couple of years and maybe used it 3 or 4 times. Then we pulled it out and set it on the curb with a "free" sign and watched it disappear. A spice shelf I love has been in that place since and we've never regretted it. If you don't use it, use that space for something you can get some use out of.

                                                                          1. Our microwave stopped working a couple of years ago, and I don't miss it. The only downside is that I reheat things in the oven, which is less efficient.

                                                                            1. interesting to read all of your responses, again thanks for the thoughtful input - all the little things it helps with.

                                                                              I am definitely ditching the current beast - it will go to the thrift and make someone with bigger counter happy

                                                                              One thing I had not thought about much was energy use - that's a good point. I assume come summer I may not be so happy to use the oven or stove top to reheat

                                                                              I am thinking ultimately maybe something like this
                                                                              will take up less real estate but maintain convenience I hate that everything smaller is always more expensive but come summer I may likely be picking one up

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                The microwave you linked to was the one I purchased and then donated in the above post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9633... I was very happy with it for the six months I owned it. It suited my purposes (reheating, melting, etc.) well, took up far less room than my previous microwave, and was cute as hell. Friends who came into my kitchen would ask me if it was a TV. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat if I hadn't had an over-the-range microwave installed.

                                                                                  1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                    I'd suggest measuring one of your dinner plates to see if it fits in the microwave. That's always been my idea of the smallest machine I'd want.

                                                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                      All of my dinner plates fit in that microwave. Some of my casseroles, no; but dinner plates, yes.

                                                                                  2. I lived without one for several years. It wasn't the end of the world. However, I eventually got another one because it is so convenient. I never cook in it, but I use it for all kinds of minor kitchen chores:
                                                                                    -- Softening lemons and limes so they yield more juice with less work.
                                                                                    -- Softening ice cream for easy scooping.
                                                                                    -- Softening butter for easy spreading.
                                                                                    -- Defrosting frozen meats quickly.
                                                                                    -- Reheating leftovers
                                                                                    -- Warming up cups of coffee or tea.
                                                                                    -- Steaming veggies and sometimes fish.

                                                                                    I keep the smallest, cheapest microwave I can find for these chores. They're very cheap these days.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: emu48

                                                                                      "I never cook in it, but I use it for all kinds of minor kitchen chores: -- Steaming veggies and sometimes fish."

                                                                                      That IS cooking. :)

                                                                                    2. I use it mostly to reheat leftovers and defrost meat.

                                                                                      But I recently found a new use that cinches it for me:

                                                                                      I heat up tortillas by placing a wet paper towel or kitchen towel over the tortillas and microwaving on high for about 45 secs - 1 min. They turn out wonderfully. Beats reheating them in the oven.

                                                                                      1. We installed a strong shelf above a counter for our microwave. They make brackets for this purpose. So we have the microwave and the counter space. Works well if you have the right spot.

                                                                                        1. There are so many things a microwave does better than any other kitchen technique or device:

                                                                                          - most vegetables steam better and with less loss of nutrients in the microwave
                                                                                          - if you put a potato in the microwave for two minutes it only takes half an hour to become a perfect jacket potato in the oven
                                                                                          - a pita bread in the microwave for 30 seconds steams itself open into a perfect pocket ready to be filled, whereas I used to find I they would always stick together and tear otherwise
                                                                                          - kills bacteria and other lifeforms that might otherwise pose a risk in less-than-fresh foods
                                                                                          - makes amazing, super-quick fat-free popcorn
                                                                                          - warms any sauce or side dish in the bowl or jug they are going to be served in to cut down on washing up
                                                                                          - makes delicious, super-easy steamed desserts that would otherwise need an hour in the oven (i.e. make a standard cake mix with 2 eggs, 4oz sugar, 4oz butter, 2oz flour, 2oz ground almonds, 3tsp baking powder, zest of one lemon, and pour into a microwaveable bowl with a layer of lemon curd at the bottom. Place a disc of parchment on the top of the cake mix and microwave for 10 minutes in 2-minute bursts with 30 mins resting time in between, then turn upside down for a steamed lemon pudding)
                                                                                          - softens up apples for a baked dessert without turning them into puree

                                                                                          I could go on...


                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Elster

                                                                                            We just started making homemade cheese and the microwave really simplifies the process.

                                                                                            1. re: Elster

                                                                                              Steaming veggies is a frequent use in our house, second only to cooking bacon.

                                                                                              For reheating leftovers, especially when everyone's choosing something different on Leftover night, it cannot be matched. The alternative is a mountain of cookware. No thanks.

                                                                                              For reheating pizza, 30 secs, then into a hot frypan to crisp. This is sometimes better than when it was fresh.

                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                I like your pizza reheating idea- will give that try. It really beats warming up a 30" oven.

                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                  Will try the pan too. A toaster oven efficiently combats the soggies too.

                                                                                                  1. re: danlind3

                                                                                                    I couldn't let my toaster oven go after my kitchen redo. I use that too for reheating 'za.

                                                                                                2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                  i only reheat on the skillet. it's so great.

                                                                                                  1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                    Tell me how you do this, please? Currently, the only thing I reheat in a skillet is pizza. And taco shells.

                                                                                                    Low temp, med? Lid on? Liquid added?

                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                      i have a double burner skillet, i turn it on medium, stick the slices on and wait until the i see the cheese get all melty. hot on top. crisp on bottom. sounds about the same method as you. minus the micro zap

                                                                                                      1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                        Oh, silly me. I was thinking you reheat everything in a skillet. I've been doing pizza in a skillet for years. It's really the only way, isn't it? :)

                                                                                              2. Well - I continue to use it as a glorified bread box - However the housemate that rents the spare room had a look of horror on his face when I mentioned getting rid of it, it was like I said I was going to rip out the bathroom and just dig a hole in the yard :). Probably worth it if it keeps him away from my cookware a bit. This is the type of cook who boils steak and wont make anything that has instructions more complicated than boil water. I am actually contemplating buying some non-stick decoy ware

                                                                                                1. there are some real purists providing bad advice. although i predominantly use it for warming plates it is also great for cooking ken hom salmon with ginger & spring onions in 2 minutes and steaming almost all vegetables. also cooking baked potatoes prior to baking. warming slightly cold or stale panettone

                                                                                                  1. I you ditch your microwave oven and don't miss it, it's simply because you have not learned to use it efficiently and advantageously.
                                                                                                    For many uses, it's a convenience and a time saver, but don't try to cook a complete meal with it, even if it's fitted with a convection roaster.
                                                                                                    Use it to cook or precook vegetables, for soups, for poached fish, etc. Once you find what it does well, stick with that and it will save you time and aggravation.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: JMPSR

                                                                                                      That's a tad condescending!
                                                                                                      Using a microwave for everything you mentioned is pretty self-evident and doesn't take Rhodes scholar to figure out.
                                                                                                      I don't believe people who don't find microwaves useful are unaware of how to use them, rather, they've developed strategies for getting along without them.

                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                        Not a condescending answer at all! It might have been worded a bit better, but it's fine. I'm learning more ways to use my microwave and I've had one for more years than I care to admit!

                                                                                                        I like to heat up rice and soup, pre-bake potatoes, etc...

                                                                                                        1. re: samsaulavi

                                                                                                          That's great! Hopefully it will become a staple in your cooking.
                                                                                                          (I find the CH knee-jerk reaction of "you just don't understand, or you misunderstood etc. to be annoying. It's you, not me!)

                                                                                                    2. Cooking without a microwave? I forgot how!
                                                                                                      It is certainly the best way to cook fresh veggies - including potatoes for mashing. Put them in a microwave-safe covered dish; add a couple of tablespoons of water; and nuke them until they are the desired doneness.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: condie

                                                                                                        Great for par cooking potatoes too for hasselbacks, gratins and hash. Gratins take forever if you don't par cook!

                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                          They don't take forever, and with any luck I have a good chunk of my life still ahead of me. If I didn't have the patience to wait for food to bake in a real oven (and the resourcefulness to find something to do while I wait), I'd've never made it this far with sanity intact.

                                                                                                      2. I have one that I inherited that is sitting in a box in the basement for several years now. I should probably just donate it to someplace. I can not stand how microwaves affect the texture of food. I prefer to patiently reheat food on the stovetop or in the oven- tastes so much better to me. I don't eat in restaurants that use microwaves either - yep, I know, a lot of them do, therefore I prefer cooking myself or potlucks with friends.

                                                                                                        1. When I did my kitchen remodel, I upgraded the electrical to 220V and put in a single wall oven. The wall oven I put in has so many fantastic settings - one being "speed convection" - which could have replaced the microwave entirely. At the time I was deciding on the appliances, I chose a microwave above the single wall oven. Had I known about all the functionality of the wall oven, I wouldn't have needed a microwave.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Jamie_Morgan

                                                                                                            Jamie, If you also have a regular (non convection, under the counter) oven, your choice was probably not bad, depending on the use you make of your oven. The only enabling feature you are missing is convection, which is important, particularly if you do a lot of baking.

                                                                                                          2. I would rather thaw frozen meat quickly in the m than let it sit out on the counter all day, the old way (also sometimes the dog ate it while we were at work).

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                              One Easter afternoon, long, long ago, our Irish Setter snatched our neighbor's ham right off the grill! Hilarity ensued as a dozen adults began frantically trying to catch her. You ever tried to outrun an Irish Setter? Man, that bitch was FAST! LOL

                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                Like Rocky trying to catch a chicken.

                                                                                                            2. i just recently over the last few years began steaming veg in the micro. it's great. however, i could totally do without a one. except, during a kitchen renovation. it's been a godsend. and i've gotten very creative with it. as creative as i can be.

                                                                                                              the other recent discovery i made was par cooking potatoes in the micro for 4 minutes in a tblsp of water before roasting. THAT is the secret to good crisp oven fries.

                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                eLizard, get some silicon containers those with silicon covers and apply your technique (15 ml water & 3 minutes in the microwave oven.) With small containers, you can customize your vegies cooking time and cook everything at the same time.

                                                                                                                1. re: JMPSR

                                                                                                                  do you have a link to these containers? works better than bowls? thanks for the tip!

                                                                                                                  1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                    Unfortunately no name on the product. I bought my 3 sets at Stoke where they were on liquidation at $5 each —I think people have not figured how to use them.
                                                                                                                    The trick is to put a splash of water in the container and put on the silicone cover which seals a micro environment for steam cooking.
                                                                                                                    Cooks potatoes, carrots, etc. in 3 to 5 minutes in the microwave oven without using stove top space.
                                                                                                                    I found a similar looking (but much more expensive) cover only at:


                                                                                                                2. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                  I've despaired of ever achieving crisp oven fries, so please give up the details. Do you spread them out? Peeled or unpeeled? Covered? C'mon, give. :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                    well, i was thinking about this method because cook's has a great recipe for homefries that start in the micro and end in a skillet. they are crisp and brown and beautiful. if not a little fussy. so i thought it might translate to roasted potatoes, too.

                                                                                                                    i don't think i peeled them. i just cut them into half to 3/4 inch wedges (i think i just halved and quartered unpeeled fingerlings i got from coscto). a pound i guess. then i put them in a bowl, sprinkle in some water, cover in plastic wrap (which freaks people out, but i'm ok with it) and zap for 4 minutes. preheat to 425-450 while zapping. dump them out on paper towels and pat dry a bit (i don't get them bone dry). and they're really pretty cooked at this point. like fork tender. and then i sprinkle with a little oil, s&p and pop in the over for 5-10 minutes in roughly one layer. toss once while cooking. and they're crisp. you may have to modify a little for your oven variations. but i was so thrilled with the results.

                                                                                                                    a fraction of the time and way better results. i'm going to try with sweet potatoes some day when my kitchen is done! if you try, please do let me know how it worked.

                                                                                                                    1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                      Thanks, eLizard. I'll try it this week and report back. :)

                                                                                                                3. Might have missed it in the long list of things people listed below that they do with their microwave but my daughter swears by it for sterilyzing the milk bottles for her twins.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: mexivilla

                                                                                                                    Sterilizing plastic bottles in the microwave is extremely unsafe. I work in the wireless industry and microwaving plastic will degrade the chemical bond and cause leeching.

                                                                                                                  2. Soo nearly 2 months after posting this I have decided to compromise

                                                                                                                    thanks for all of your insightful comments - gave me a lot to think about

                                                                                                                    since my original post the microwave has been disconnected and in another room. Have I missed it? not really but I am not the only person who uses my kitchen and I am expecting some extended stay visitors so when I saw on sale a small one that takes approximately the same footprint as my (frequently used always out) slow cooker I grabbed it. Best of both worlds I now have a bread box that can double as a microwave and not loose working counter space

                                                                                                                    first and only use so far - warming dog food for the cold sensitive little guy

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                      <first and only use so far - warming dog food for the cold sensitive little guy>

                                                                                                                      How do you warm up leftovers? We're in the position of deciding whether to ditch our Breville Smartoven, microwave, both, or neither. Reheating leftovers is a big question mark, since I can't recall a time when I didn't own a microwave.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                        I do not love the microwave for reheating leftovers - I feel like stuff is cold then all of a sudden too hot - soups boil over, chops go rubbery

                                                                                                                        usually I just warm on the stove top or oven in a heavy pan with low heat and maybe some added liquid- if it is something that needs to be crisped up I may brown it or stuck in broiler, white rice I steam, steaks and other more rare meats I usually just slice thin and eat cold.

                                                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                          I generally use the oven for reheating leftovers.

                                                                                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                            There are any number of ways to reheat leftovers, but unless your oven is more magical than mine, I can reheat leftovers in the microwave in far less time than it takes to preheat my gas oven, let alone the leftovers.

                                                                                                                      2. and indeed after just a few days of some rather high-impact house guests I am very grateful for this small appliance as it is keeping them away from my stove and cookware

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                          Sometimes, I enjoy the instant gratification of a Lean Cuisine ;-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                            This is what gives me pause as I consider doing without. Sometimes when the grandsons want popcorn, if I'm not around, the Dude will stick a package of the nuke-it stuff in, rather than make it on the stovetop. The Grands like my stovetop stuff better, but they won't turn down any popcorn, ever.

                                                                                                                            It's also great for taking the chill off bread for his sandwiches and it's my absolute favorite way with bacon. I buy the pre-cooked Hormel at Costco and can nuke 6 slices in a minute. I like that.

                                                                                                                            As with Lean Cuisine, it also does a bang-up job on Marie Callender's pot pies. Who wants to wait an hour?

                                                                                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                              I just think the decision should be practical and not based on some notion that one is somehow "less" if they use a microwave.
                                                                                                                              I need to try the pre-cooked bacon at Costco again.

                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                <I just think the decision should be practical and not based on some notion that one is somehow "less" if they use a microwave.>

                                                                                                                                So well said. We all have our favorite cookware or appliances and can be a little preachy as we try to convince other cooks of their merits. It seems that if they don't love it as much as we do, preferring it to all others, they're just not doing it right. I've caught myself acting this way a few times, to my shame.

                                                                                                                                And when it comes to convenience appliances, well, that's when the gloves come off. As though REAL cooks don't use them. Things like microwaves somehow taint the food and make it unfit for human consumption. Yet they're routinely found in very fine restaurant kitchens. Go figure.

                                                                                                                        2. Some people ditch the microwave. Some keep it for popcorn. I've ditched microwave popcorn because of the chemicals they put on the inside of the bag. Some keep it for reheating yesterday's coffee in a quick jiffy (me). Some keep it for thawing burger in a jiffy with kids (me). If I want yesterday's spaghetti, I'll nuke it. I reheat almost every other leftover in cast iron in the oven at 375F. Other than that, I'd be happy to ditch it. But I know there'll be that one time when I want it, if I ditch it.

                                                                                                                          I don't do it any more but, nuked scrambled eggs sure are fluffy, lol. Just mix them every minute though, and use milk :)

                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Muddirtt

                                                                                                                            i make regular popcorn in the microwave. kernels in a brown paper bag. fold over twice and zap.

                                                                                                                            1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                              Once you've had seasoned cast iron dutch oven popcorn on the stovetop, it's hard to go back to anything else :)

                                                                                                                              You can actually taste the corn.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Muddirtt

                                                                                                                                normally i make it in a pot on the stove. but during kitchen renovations, desperate times......

                                                                                                                                1. re: Muddirtt

                                                                                                                                  I don't have a cast iron DO. Too hard for me to lift and shake the pot.

                                                                                                                                  My poor neglected grandsons have to settle for tasteless stuff popped in a large stainless pan on the stovetop. With the butter melted in the pan before the corn is popped. Poor little dears.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                    Hey that works too. That'd be the second choice to go for popcorn. I'm not a huge popcorn fan, so no biggy. Try a quarter inch of EVOO instead of butter. It's something else :)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Muddirtt

                                                                                                                                      < It's something else :) >

                                                                                                                                      *Gasp!* Yes, it is something else. Something else besides butter, and that's just popcorn heresy. You are the devil!!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                        Lol, I think I may be. My girlfriend's cat hisses at me and stares at me with wide eyes -- The cat must see the demon in me lol.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Muddirtt

                                                                                                                                        Whoops, I meant an EIGHTH INCH of EVOO.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Muddirtt

                                                                                                                                  Scarmbled eggs is a new one on me. But I do agree that many of us have limited uses for a MW, but oh! those uses. Sometimes it seems nothing else will do.

                                                                                                                                  I love nuked spaghetti. Don't like MW popcorn at all. My tea tastes yucky reheated. Vegetable soup is a snap, 2.5 minutes in a big porcelain mug. Doesn't splatter so there's no need to cover it, and the handle stays cool. What could be better? I can (and have) done it just as quickly on my cooktop, but then I've got a pan to wash. Oh, the horror!

                                                                                                                                  On balance, I don't think we (or anyone, really) NEED the nuker. But I'm not sure Dude and I really WANT to do without one. Time will tell.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                    UPDATE - We ditched the MW!

                                                                                                                                    For about a week and a half. Maybe two. Could be fooling myself. Might have been one week that felt like two.

                                                                                                                                    Anyway, we installed a nifty range hood and thought we were golden. Until we weren't.

                                                                                                                                    So we went online, checked local sales and ended up with a very nice, very inexpensive Kenmore from K-Mart. I've no idea who made it, but it's a winner.

                                                                                                                                    Our kitchen has one of those built-in desk areas. We used it for coffee makers and wine glasses. After losing one of the coffee makers and shifting some thing around, we were able to put the MW and our Breville oven on the desktop, with plenty of room between for parking hot food on a cast iron trivet. While not in our main cooking zone, and lower than we'd like (desk ht.) it's a good compromise. Keeps the big appliances off the main counters, giving us a (mostly) uncluttered look.

                                                                                                                                    Except for the Keurig machine by the sink.But sometimes accommodations must be made to our addictions.

                                                                                                                                3. My SO and I think of ourselves as "non-microwave" people. We don't "cook" in it. Don't pop popcorn nor buy frozen dinners.

                                                                                                                                  Mainly used to reheat leftovers or soften chilled butter.

                                                                                                                                  Our microwave died early last week.

                                                                                                                                  We made it through the weekend. Monday night, my SO came in from work and said "Put your coat on. We need to go buy a microwave".

                                                                                                                                  We bought the smallest one we could find (minus one "dorm room" model that wouldn't fit a coffee cup? WTF? ).

                                                                                                                                  p.s. to the OP I'm guessing your four-legged friend is very happy to see the microwave back in action.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                    <My SO and I think of ourselves as "non-microwave" people.>

                                                                                                                                    I think of myself as 35 years old and 110#. Doesn't mean I am. :-)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                                                        Okay, that just made me, quite literally, laugh out loud. :-D