Why We Don’t Use a Microwave

Why we don't use a microwave and what we use instead

I’ve gotten several emails lately asking about microwave safety and if we use a microwave at our house. Even with the natural birthing, dirt eating, barefoot playing, cloth-diapering and mud shampooing that goes on at our house, not using a microwave seems to be one of those things that is inexcusably crunchy.

Since I’ve pretty well established myself in the crunchy camp, I thought I’d finally share why we don’t use a microwave at our house.

The Main Reason

Half of the reason we converted to real food is the taste, and this is also half the reason that we stopped using a microwave. In my opinion, food cooked or reheated in the microwave does not taste as good! I had plenty of microwaved ramen noodle eating experiences (cringe) in college to form this opinion.

According to the daily green, microwaves work by:

“Microwave radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation (meaning it can’t directly break up atoms or molecules) that lies between common radio and infrared frequencies. So it is not thought to damage DNA of living things, the way X and gamma rays do. Still, microwaves can obviously cause heating effects, and can harm or kill at high energies. That’s why microwave ovens on the market must operate at or below strict limits set by the federal government.

Most microwave ovens hit food with microwaves at a frequency of 2.45 gigahertz (GHz) (a wavelength of 12.24 centimeters (4.82 in)). The prevailing belief is that molecules in the food, particularly water, absorb energy from the waves through dielectric heating. That is, since water molecules are polar, having a positive end and negative end, they begin to rotate rapidly as the alternating electric field passes through. That rotation is thought to add heat to the food.”

This fast method of cooking doesn’t allow time for flavors to develop and meld like other cooking methods do. As I’ve found a lot of quick meal recipes that are much healthier than microwaved meals anyway, we just don’t use a microwave.

The Health Factors

There is a lot of disagreement about if microwaves release radiation or can cause harm this way. By their nature, they do release radiation in to food, but the disagreement regards whether the radiation is released outside of the microwave itself. Mark Sisson covered this here:

“Here’s what we found. First, to the question of transforming your home into a radiation zone… There is, not surprisingly, disagreement about this point. However, occasional home use of a fully functional microwave appliance is generally considered safe. Microwaves do, make no mistake, emit radiation, and the FDA has established what it considers “safe” levels for microwaves: over the machine’s “lifetime” the allowable level is “5 milliwatts of microwave radiation per square centimeter…approximately 2 inches from the oven surface.” Guidelines from the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) suggest overall radiation limits of 1 milliwatt per square centimeter “averaged over 6 minutes (0.1 h) period.” Unless you’re using your microwave on a perpetual basis, there’s little reason to worry.) Because the radiation diminishes quickly over distance, standing further away from the microwave during operation cuts your exposure even more significantly. (That instinct to not press your face against the glass door while your lunch was cooking turns out to be right after all…) Additionally, the FDA requires two interlock systems that effectively offer backup security as well as a monitoring system that shuts the microwave down if one of the systems isn’t working or if the door is opened during operation. Common sense adds that you might want to make sure the microwave seal isn’t compromised by built up tomato sauce or other grime. (Hmmm…anyone?) And, of course, it’s a good idea to replace an old, dilapidated microwave even if it’s a great conversation piece. Safety versus vintage flare…”

There are stories of patients dying after being given microwaved blood transfusions and babies being injured by microwaved breast milk, indicating that those substances should definitely not be microwaved. I’ve also seen caution against microwaving oil or water, though we don’t have a microwave so I can’t claim personal experience with either of those.

From a radiation perspective, the general consensus seems to be that microwaves could transmit radiation, though it is unlikely. Dr. Mercola gives some compelling evidence of this possibility though.

There is evidence that heating certain materials (like plastic) in the microwave can cause harm. As that article explains:

“The safest course of action is to avoid putting any plastics in the microwave. When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tested plastics labeled microwave safe and advertised for infants, even those were found to release “toxic doses” of Bisphenol A when heated in a microwave. “The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals,” the paper reports.

In fact, the term “microwave safe” is not regulated by the government, so it has no verifiable meaning. According to the Journal Sentinel‘s testing, BPA “is present in frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging.” It is often found in plastics marked No. 7, but may also be present in some plastics labeled with Nos. 1, 2 and 5 as well, according to the report. Better to stick to glass or ceramics.”

So, while we’ve opted to avoid microwaves completely, if one is going to use one, it would seem wise not to use plastic.

What About Nutrients?

This is the other half of the reason we avoid microwaves. There is evidence that microwaves reduce nutrients in food. Any cooking will actually change the nutrients in food in some way, though low and slow cooking seems to preserve the most nutrients while faster methods of cooking (microwave being the fastest) destroy more nutrients. This article gives a good summary:

  • Three recent studies of historical food composition have shown 5-40% declines in some of the minerals in fresh produce, and another study found a similar decline in our protein sources (1)
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamins (3)
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer (5)
  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97%of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11% or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact (6).
  • A recent Australian study showed that micro- waves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating (2)
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria (4).”

The article explains:

“Still, we know sufficiently little about nutrition and the cumulative effects of food science that some aren’t so convinced (of course, there is also the threat of any harmful substances present getting released upon cooking, such as the diacetyl blamed for “popcorn lung.”) In a recent article E Magazine pointed out that popular holistic health expert Dr. Andrew Weil has written, “There may be dangers associated with microwaving food… there is a question as to whether microwaving alters protein chemistry in ways that might be harmful.” According to the magazine, Dr. Fumio Watanabe of Japan’s Kochi Women’s University found that heating samples for six minutes degenerated 30 to 40% of the milk’s vitamin B12. This kind of breakdown took about 25 minutes of boiling with conventional heat. In a 1992 Stanford Medical School study often cited by microwave opponents, researchers reported a “marked decrease” in immune-boosting factors in microwaved human breast milk. In the late 1980s Swiss scientists reported decreases in hemoglobin and white blood cells in rats that had eaten microwaved food.”

The Microwave Bottom Line

Microwaves are convenient… So is fast food, so is letting the TV be a babysitter. Convenience doesn’t always make something the best option.

Microwaves don’t produce the best tasting food, they might destroy nutrients, and there is a possibility that they might releaser harmful radiation. For me, this was an easy choice- if it might be harmful and doesn’t make good tasting food, we avoid it.

Obviously, most people aren’t willing to give up the convenience of a microwave, so at least avoid using plastic in it!

What We Use Instead

This should be pretty obvious (especially to anyone if our parents’s generation) that there are a lot of alternative cooking methods. In general, we use:

  • Conventional Oven: I use my regular oven multiple times per day to cook or reheat food.
  • Toaster Oven: For times when I don’t want to use the oven or need to heat up a small amount of food, a toaster oven is easier.
  • Pan Heating: I use mans at most meals. Breakfast omelets are cooked on the stove, leftovers heated for lunch and veggies steamed for dinner. I use these pans as they are the most non-toxic and environmentally friendly ones I’ve found.
  • Crock Pot: I use the crock pot multiple times a week, and have one constantly going with bone broth. I use this one because the research I found showed that it didn’t have any lead in the crock, though any slow cooker will work.
  • Convection Oven: I don’t have one personally (it is on the wish list), but a close friend of mine loves her countertop convection oven and uses it everyday. This supposedly combines the quick cooking of a microwave with the safety and quality of the oven).

Do you use a microwave? Would you consider giving it up? Why or why not? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. i only use it to melt butter, i ALWAYS burn it on the stove

    • I stick mine in the oven 😉

    • or just leave your butter out, a stick at a time, it doesnt need to be in the fridge

  2. We gave ours up years ago and haven’t missed it at all.

  3. We have a microwave, but honestly we hardly use it. We have a stove top teapot for boiling water quickly and most of our food is reheated via crockpot or stovetop. I can’t actually remember the last time we used the microwave thats sitting on top of our fridge. I’ve considered just getting rid of the thing all together, but haven’t discussed it yet with the boyfriend.

  4. I didn’t have one growing up and I still don’t have
    one. I don’t miss it at all!

  5. We gave up our microwave a year and a half ago. It was hard at first. We stored it in our basement and would run down to thaw meat we had forgotten to put into the fridge on time. Finally, we just gave it away. Now, we don’t even miss it.

  6. So I guess I’ll be in the market for a toaster oven now. We already avoided using plastic in our microwave, but after reading this, I can totally see us using the other methods with no inconvenience. Thank you for sharing your world! You are quickly transforming my home 🙂

  7. Great post! Thanks for sharing. We have never got a microwave oven. I was never comfortable with the idea of using one anyway. Conventional and toaster ovens together satisfy our needs big time. You can do everything with these two, from baking to heating up.

  8. I would love a toaster oven that goes under the cabinets and has an exhaust system to vent smoke from the stove, just like our microwave does. does anyone know any type of affordable toaster oven that does this? if not, what do I do with the big empty spot under the cabinets and above the stove if I remove my microwave?

    • an oven fan/hood usually fits there and “masks” the hole

    • An exhaust can be installed. Ive never seen a toaster oven mounted, but, some convection ovens look just like microwaves. You could always put a spice rack there.

    • My family used to have a toaster oven that mounted under the cabinets with a vent hood; you should be able to find something like that.

    • We put in a series of 4 wine glass slider-type holders & made the cabinet above a cocktail station 🙂

  9. I don’t have one, and I (most of the time) don’t miss it. When we moved in to our house 3 years ago, we had to buy all new appliances, we chose not to get a microwave. Luckily I had heard of a study done on plants where the one plant was given water boiled in a microwave and one given water boiled on the stove. The one given the microwaved water died, while the other was healthy. That’s why we don’t have a microwave. Plus, the taste of food is so much better when it’s not microwaved!

  10. I want to get rid of ours, but we have to replace our oven and stove first and maybe get a toaster oven or something like that!

  11. I do not own a microwave. The main reason was that it took up too much counter space in my small kitchen. Hubby had a fit at first but now has admitted that it is just as easy to heat with “old fashioned methods.”

  12. I have one and we use it. I typically use it for reheating select foods. I agree, that food cooked and reheated in the microwave just doesn’t taste as good and the texture is often weird.

  13. I will not allow a microwave in my house, we use the wood stove mainly, and cast iron for everything! LOVE it. 🙂

  14. I recently pulled out our microwave, although I still have it in the garage, incase of dire emergencies. I purchased a steam oven to ‘fill the spot’ it in the kitchen bank of cabinets. Perfect fit – and now I can steam large amounts of veggies most nights for dinner. Excellent swap, as it steams veggies, defrosts and reheats…all using steam. Am loving it!

    • What a great idea! I “inherited” a steamer combo and have never used it due to lack of counter space.

      We use the coffee maker carafe to heat water, vegies are steamed on the stove top, and the microwave stores baked items/bread. The top is used as a place for coffee cups and snack plates.

      I see a reorganization in my future.

  15. Gave up using the microwave for food about 5 years ago – only use it to heat a stone to keep my rising dough warm and to sterilise cloths and sponges. Reheating foods by steaming is much easier and thorough, and making sauces and scrambled eggs on the stove gives a far better flavour!

  16. I use a double boiler for reheating leftovers.

  17. Please tell me how mineral content can be lost…that would be in the realms of atom splitting which you outlined couldn’t happen at that energy level. You also said molecules aren’t split either, but which would have to happen if vitamins are destroyed. I would suspect minerals are preserved, as microwaves cant split atoms and vitamins may be destroyed as high heat can denature or break weaker molecular bonds. Remember atomic bonds are different to molecular bonds.

    • yes, I agree. Mineral content would not go down. The only thing that I could see happening chemically is minerals converting to a less absorbed form, like ferric to ferrous, but this is more based on what it is cooked WITH (i.e., the pH) rather than the heat that is formed. In fact, breaking apart the phytates and other phytochemicals that trap minerals might actually help them be absorbed MORE.

      • You two are correct!

  18. We gave ours up recently and I still miss being able to warm my coffee in it, which is the only thing we really used it for anyway.

  19. Thanks for this post. A friend suggested it to me after I was recently pondering if a toaster/ countertop convection oven is a comparable replacement of my crapped out microwave. The oven I chose was both nicer and cheaper than the most inexpensive new microwave I found. It has certainly been an adjustment for my family but I actually like the personal test it gives me…”do I want to eat this bad enough to dirty a dish and wait for it to cook?”. The largest inconvenience has been liquids or soups having to be heated or small servings of leftovers however it was a HUGE convenience to have basically two ovens when cooking thanksgiving dinner. I’m planning to keep pushing the ” no microwave” attempt with my family 🙂

  20. I use a rice cooker with a steamer basket and warm things up in there. I can warm up 2 bowls of anything in about 10 minutes, or heat up bread too.

    • I use a stove top rice steamer. Reheats food in seconds. Unlike electric steamers they don’t take up counter space. They are an easy 1:1 for white rice 1 cup rice to about 1 .25 cups of water or other liquid for brown.
      The inside basket has holes only at the rim for the steam so the rice or other grain or seed can remain inside with the liquid. Very traditional in SC where they eat a lot of rice.

  21. The reason that I don’t use a microwave is that if you take a pendulum and hold it over food to see if it is vibrant – It will rotate clockwise or positive. Then if you microwave the food and do the same thing, it will rotate counter clockwise or negative every time. I’m from Boulder, CO and we do weird stuff like this here so please excuse me but I’m thinking that this is not something I want to do to my food. Maybe that’s why people have died from microwaved blood transfusions.

  22. By traditional oven,do you mean electric oven or is it something different.Is it safe to use electric OTGs.PLease let me know.

  23. Our microwave had been going for a while, and when it pooped out we really did not get around to buying another. It was not the expense, hassle, or even time in finding a new one, we just got used to doing things “the old fashion way” by pan re-heating and warming things in the oven. We really don’t miss it, as our water boils almost as fast on the stove, and we don’t even eat frozen-microwaved foods.

    If we REALLY need to heat something in a hurry, we just… well deal with it! Few complaints here (:

  24. Before we got married, my husband’s rental didn’t have one. He didn’t have a toaster oven (or a toaster or a crock pot). We re-heated everything on the stove or in the oven. It was no hassle at all. If our current house didn’t come with one, we probably wouldn’t have one. I zap my kitchen sponge for 30 seconds because I read that disinfects it. I hope that’s true! And I use it occasionally for warming up coffee or melting butter. We never put plastic in the microwave and dishwasher. And no hot food in plastic containers.

  25. I use a microwave for heating milk for my “cafe con leche” every morning and occasionally to heat leftovers… the only things I use it to cook are scrambled eggs (they turn out lighter and fluffier then any cooking method I’ve tried) and sweet potatoes… I enjoy a sweet potato for lunch sometimes and less then 10 min in the micro rather than an hour in the oven saves energy and they taste great. I also use it to heat cream or melt butter and chocolate for baking but I only use glass containers. For people using a microwave to heat prepacked or ready made meals… I think the processing and the chemicals in the meals are a lot more dangerous then the microwave could ever be.

  26. As a student in a dorm, I still have my microwave (it’s been with me 3 years, it would be like getting rid of a loyal friend) but I very rarely use it. I used to use it to make tea and oatmeal and such, but now I have a self-heating kettle that does the trick. Most weekends when I don’t feel like eating the food here I use the tiny stove in the itsybitsy 3rd floor kitchen in my dorm.

  27. We have a microwave that we occasionally use. I mostly use mine for re-heating my morning coffee, which with having kids, never seems to get drunk all in one go. How do you re-heat your coffee or keep it hot? If I could do that it would cut out microwave usage way down. Also, great article. I like how you explain things factually without sounding condescending.

    • we have 4 children so I totally understand the reheating coffee issue! this is what I’ve done for our coffee in the morning….it’s my favorite! I pour non sweetened vanilla almond milk with half and half. add vanilla, cinnamon, and a little sugar. heat it up and pour in coffee cup(I add a little honey to that too:) then pour in my coffee. if it needs reheating I pour my cup of coffee into the small sauce pan and heat it back up…seriously takes about
      3 min. someone told me it’s better than starbucks:)

    • Buy a thermos or a coffee carafe. ASAP after you make the coffee, transfer it to the thermos. It will keep it hot long after you make it and if the coffee in your cup goes cold you can just top it up from the carafe or dump it and pour yourself a fresh cup. There are coffee makers that come with an insulated carafe.

      If you pre-heat the thermos / carafe with hot water from your kitchen tap, the coffee will stay hot longer. This is preferable to reheating or keeping a pot on the coffee maker burner b/c adding heat to the coffee after it’s made can contribute to the breakdown of the oils in it.

      • Another idea if the coffee in your coffeepot cools down is to use it to make a cold or frozen coffee drink like iced coffee or a frappuccino

    • As a fellow mom, I use my travel mug for my coffee every day. A Contigo vacuum sealed mug keeps my coffee hot for hours!

  28. I use it now and then, but not as my main source of cooking! I agree with you that food just doesn’t taste as good microwaved.

  29. We don’t have a microwave and we have never missed it! Leaving it out of our kitchen remodel made that cheaper, too.

  30. Our house didn’t come with a microwave and boy am I glad. I was worried at first since I buy all of my meat frozen from the farmer, but it really hasn’t been a hinderance at all.

  31. We unplugged last year and I can’t wait to replace the ugly thing with a hood and light! 🙂 Don’t miss it a bit!!

  32. I would never give up my microwave oven. BUT, I mostly, only use it for defrosting or reheating foods (in glass) and always use a lower strength setting.
    I find after reheating in the microwave oven, the food tastes more like fresh cooked than reheated. There are only two of us and it’s more economical to cook enough for several meals at one time and reheat.
    My microwave oven is a more expensive model that has a wide range of cooking settings and I keep it clean, which helps it’s efficiency. I am very safety conscious but in my opinion, if I use it wisely, to give it up, seems silly to me.

  33. In all honesty, I use my microwave a LOT! to reheat pretty much everything and my 14 month old baby’s food. Thing is i know its bad but its just sooo convenient. After reading this I definitely going to consider changing my ways. Does it take much more time though??

  34. Ours broke about a year ago and we decided not to replace it. There have only been a couple times where i wished we still had it (because i didn’t want to wait for food to reheat in the oven). But honestly, i mostly forget that we ever had a microwave because the oven works just fine for us. And the best part about not having a microwave is that YOU DON’T HAVE TO CLEAN IT! I have to say that the microwave was always my least favorite thing to clean. That and the tub, although i don’t foresee us getting rid of that any time soon! LOL!

  35. I’ll definitely use my microwave less after reading this! Thanks for all the info. Do you ever use cast iron pans? I’ve heard that cooking on cast iron helps preserve more nutrients than other cookware.

  36. we went 6 months or more without one (cuz it broke and I didn’t care to replace it) till my step father gave us one then that broke and we went another 6 or more months without it no problem but I had a infant starting food and heating such a small amount on the stove was just a major pain. I honestly don’t care much either way, if this one goes out I don’t think we’ll replace it for a while either (if we do)

  37. Seriously just seen this link on pinterest, this will change my home thank you love the way you think!

  38. i dont like your website and unlike your fb page because ur not answering my questions

    • Well we’ll all lose sleep over that one.

  39. We have been microwave free for 8 years, and people kind of act like we are crazy. We use all of the same methods you do. I am grateful for your research. We have felt that many of these things were true, but did not do the research to confirm; instead we just made the switch. The only thing we miss is microwave popcorn, but we all know that is terrible for you, and since we eat mostly whole foods for health and allergy reasons, we have just gone to good old fashioned stove-top popcorn cooking, and it tastes even better!

  40. just found ur webpage & luv it! thnx! regarding th nuke, i would like 2 stop using it 4 th reasons u wrote about. just replaced an old 1 but new 1 is cheap & outside corner metal is unjoined. th main reason not 2 stove-cook is waiting & babysitting time & th small extra cleanup w/using a pan. but now tht i’m going 2 gradually incorporate th cookware u use & recommend, i believe i wil eventually stop nuking. (hope u dont mind my abbrevs. i suffer frm very painful arthritis. therefore, ths informal typing style minimizes keystrokes)

  41. I use our microwave strictly for sanitizing dish sponges!

  42. The only part of the microwave I use is to check the time. I would toss it out, but it’s an above the range one and it would leave a big empty space above the stove. It only takes a couple minutes more to wash a pan or pot used on the stove or in the oven.

  43. Thank you so much for this post! I put our microwave away about a year ago after making life changing decisions about food and exercise that resulted in a100 lb weight loss for me and a much healthier family. Everybody thought I had finally gone overboard with all of it. I did it for all the same reasons you state here. It is amazing how much better food tastes and I believe so much better for you! we really haven’t missed it as much as one would think. Thank you for letting me know I ask not the only one doing this! 🙂

  44. We gave ours up last year, the only one in our house who has any issues with this is our sixteen year old daughter. We use the same methods you do for quickly heating food. At first it didn’t seem so quick to use other methods but after a year it just feels normal and the microwave isn’t missed 🙂

  45. We have a microwave although since converting to a more healthy diet for our family, we only use it to heat water for tea (which really helps when you’re in a rush on school mornings) and to melt things like coconut oil, butter, etc.

  46. I’ve cut my microwave usage down by probably 90% over the past year. I much prefer to use my cast-iron to warm things up now. My toddler has become accustomed to the fact that food takes time to prepare and doesn’t mind the extra wait when I’m cooking her meals.

  47. when we moved into our house 2 years ago we put the microwave in the garage to save on kitchen counter space and hardly ever used it, so when it started making funny noises we got rid of it and didn’t get a new one. The only thing that I miss it for is warming up rice bags for sore muscles…

  48. I really hate cleaning it. I really hate the space it takes up because it’s not above the stove. After a week of being iced in, I have learned to like the dishes cooking from scratch produces. Maybe I can chunk it after all! Sharing this article with the hubby might be the nail in the microwave coffin!

  49. I’ve heard another reason its not okay to microwave breast milk is because its not even heat and will cause hot spots that are dangerous for baby. Also, I think food heated on the stove top stays warm a lot longer than microwaved food/liquid. If I warm up my coffee in the microwave, it’s only warm for a short time.

    • Yes to the liquids not staying hot as long!! Why is that? My husband claims it’s not possible. Maybe I should get my son to do a science project on that.

  50. We havent had a microwave for years. It doesnt even occur to me miss it.

  51. We have a microwave that came with the house, but we rarely use it. I pretty much only use a microwave at work to heat up my lunch. What do you all use if you work outside of the home? Our office doesn’t have an oven (though one of our other offices does–*love*), but the one I work in just has a microwave.

    • Holly – Hi! Same thing here. I microwave every day at lunch here at work. We don’t have an oven either….or maybe the Big Guys do behind their glass doors 🙂
      I never microwaved styrofoam, and I was always worried about my “tupperware” stuff. Now I need to go out and get some glass containers!
      We do have a dishwasher….maybe I can just wrap my lunch up in a Ziplock bag and run it thru a quick cycle….HA!

      • What did you decide to do? Salads? Sandwiches? Fresh fruit and veggies? I’m curious, because I have the same problem.

    • Hi Manne,

      I just got a mini rice cooker to re heat my lunch at work! No way to Microwaves! 🙂

  52. We don’t have anything but a microwave in our break room at work. What do you suggest for reheating packed lunches?

    • Buy your work kitchen a toaster oven! 🙂

  53. Our family has been microwave free for 3 years now and we do not miss it at all. Initially the kids complained but not anymore. We most often reheat foods in a counter top steamer. It has different baskets and I have even used it for soups! Otherwise we use the stove top or oven to reheat. For much lunch at work I use the Crock Pot Lunch. It looks like a tiny Crock Pot with a removable insert. It does not cook but heats my food up perfectly. They are only $20 at Target and so convenient.

  54. I tend to reheat food at work but at home it is basically a timer that will heat a “corn pack” that will keep our feet warm at night.

  55. We just moved back to South Africa. After selling all our possessions to start over again, we decided that with wanting to live a healthier whole life, a microwave had no part of that. It’s a little bit of an adjustment, but I know we did the right thing. Love your article.Thanks for sharing.

  56. What do you use to heat up those rice heating pads? I haven’t had a microwave in years and don’t miss it, but I want to make some rice heating pads, but haven’t figured out how I would warm them.

    • Do you have a crock pot? Perhaps on a radiator or heating vent before you go to bed?

  57. We just gave up our microwave about a month ago. I do miss the convenience, but I am finding other methods of re-heating our foods and I feel better about serving foods to my family that have not been microwaved!

  58. I threw the microwave out several years ago and before that had some strict rules – no pregnant women or babies under 2 in the room while it was in use, no one standing there watching the popcorn bag fill up looking directly into the machine while it was on. As far back as 1981 in midwife training we had these rules in place. I don’t miss it at all. The kids do comment once in awhile but really don’t have any need for any of it’s supposed uses. I love keeping the kitchen simple.

  59. we gave up our microwave nearly 7 years ago…it’s a good move. I only used it for re-heating food and popcorn, mostly…but at that time we needed the valuable counter space. Microwave popcorn is toxic…stovetop is fun for the kids and better for you. Toaster ovens are WAY better at re-heating food, gets pizza crispy again and makes the food taste the way it’s supposed. Microwaves are for heating types of food I do not want to be eating anyway. I just get tired of defending our choice. People act like I said “we don’t have a bathroom in our house”….it really is no big deal. Buy a few smaller sized pots for quick heating of frozen veggies or soups and it’s all good!

  60. I use mine everyday, i love my Microwave.. One of man’s best inventions!! I don’t know of anyone anymore that actually uses it to cook in, everyone is pretty much like me, you just use it to heat up or reheat a food.. I boil my water for hot tea in mine every time i have hot tea, same with Swiss Miss, it’s YUMMY!!!!

  61. How do you thaw out your meat (in a fast manner).. I use the microwave.. 🙁

    • Judith – to thaw meat, you’ll have to plan ahead, and take it out of the freezer a day or two ahead of cooking, and let it thaw on the counter and fridge. If you are in a real pinch – you can run the frozen meat under cold to luke-warm water. Do not run it under hot water, though faster, can cause the temperature of the meat to rise and start cooking it.

      We have not used a microwave for almost a year now. We took it out because we needed the counter space. At first we weren’t sure how to function, and it was then we realized how often we used the microwave, and how much we relied on it. We have found great alternatives; small pots and pans are used frequently to re-heat food, as are small ceramic dishes in the oven. We would like a toaster oven, but we don’t have the counter space for that.

      We truly enjoy not having a microwave, and we recommend it many people- who look at us like we are legitimately crazy. 🙂

    • I put my frozen meats on a cast iron griddle with the flat side facing the meat. This speeds up the process of defrosting. I got the idea from that old commercial about the “Miracle Thaw” I think what it does, is it dissipates the cold more quickly than if it just sat on the counter top. It does work and my cast iron griddle is now double duty.

  62. Brilliant post! Thank you. We have not had a microwave for almost 10 yrs. I have had friends and family offer to buy me one because they cannot understand how I live without one. But I can’t imagine using one. I don’t feel like I need to. Recently a friend was here and I made stove top popcorn and hot chocolate for our kids in a matter in minutes. She was stunned at how it actually didn’t take that long and confessed she had never made that kind of thing without a microwave. I really encourage people to try without one, the food does taste better, I’m sure of it!

  63. We haven’t had a microwave for 10 years. We put it in the basement to make counter space when we were having a big family party and never brought it back up. A few years later, a house in town was destroyed by fire and we donated it to the family who lost everything. Everything is heated on the stove, in the oven or in the toaster oven. We recently got a Keurig as a gift and that has been great heating water for tea and making coffee.

  64. We’ve recently stopped using the microwave at home almost completely. My question is about convection microwaves. We travel in a motor home for several weeks each summer. We don’t have an oven but do have a convection microwave. Does using it in convection mode still have any of the negative aspects of using it in straight microwave mode? I’ve been baking bread at home and would like to continue while we’re away. Anybody know for sure if a convection microwave is as safe (in convection mode) as a true convection oven?

  65. If I were older and had more choice in what goes on in my life, I’d give up a microwave.

  66. We have a Microwave but we use it very little, I get mad when I buy a frozen dish from the supermarket and it says “microwave only” I stopped using the microwave because whenever I ate the food I would have a “burning pain” through out my body. I have been to X-ray school and we debated about that and I personally use my new conventional toaster to heat up “pizza” and other food items. I am not a fan of the microwave but when your in a rush on the go it does make like convenient

  67. Our microwave broke down a little after my daughter was born 4 years ago. At the beginning we were going to rush out and get a new one, but we never got around to it. 4 years later we don’t miss and and we have agreed never to get one. Reheating nutritious home cooked meals in a microwave felt like frozen store bought TV dinners anyway.

  68. I use my microwave regularly to reheat food but not to cook. It can’t produce certain textures and flavours that other methods can, just as you wouldn’t steam something you wanted browned. A lot of people overcook when using the microwave which definitely tends to change the flavour and texture and would result in nutrient loss just as boiling too hard and too long would. I live alone and cook up big batches of food then freeze in individual portions. If you reheat things properly in the microwave instead of just blasting at the highest temperature for too long they taste fine. I don’t use many commercially processed foods because no matter how you reheat them they’ve already lost a lot of nutrition to the processing before you even get them home and they contain too many ingredients just to make them shelf stable. Plus too much sugar and salt.

    A small handful of studies are repeatedly cited that say microwaves do this or that bad thing but tracking down the original studies to assess the quality of the research are often difficult. Some of the results would happen no matter what heating method is used because they’re the result of too high heat being applied for too long.

    From what I’ve been able to discover the dangers of microwaving in properly maintained equipment in the proper way are minimal, the dangers of heating plastics are real and the microwave should not be relied on to kill harmful bacteria because of uneven heating. Definitely wouldn’t trust one to sanitize anything, especially if only heated for a short time.

    • I quit using a microwave 4 years ago. Started using a Convection Toaster Oven for re-heating and cooking. Rarely use the stove oven, only if something won’t fir the toaster oven. Food tastes good; usually only takes about 20 min @350 degrees to reheat a plate of food. The toaster oven we have is very large, & Cooking time for most foods is about the same as big oven. Oh….Also my Electric Bill went down, that’s the only change I made.

      ****The microwave destroys what nutrition is in the food you’re cooking or reheating. If you don’t believe it; microwave water, let it cool. Take 2 plants and water one with the cooled microwaved water, the other with tap or rain water. See hat happens to the one using the microwaved water. (IT WILL DIE!)******

      • That water thing has been thoroughly debunked though it keeps being cited. I have not seen any convincing,, reliable evidence that microwaving food kills nutrients any more than any other cooking method unless done for too long, just as with any other method of over cooking. But to each their own.

  69. I got rid of my microwave almost 3 years ago, because I have read that microwave ovens can put a lot of evil things into people’s food, such as radiation that is very bad for people and this is very scary. I have no regrets that I do not have a microwave, anymore. I wish everyone became educated about the evilness of the microwave ovens.

  70. Hi Katie,

    I actually just stopped using the microwave this Fall. And I do agree–food tastes so much better, and with a little planning, it doesn’t take that much longer to heat food on the stove. The one thing I am bummed about is not being able to heat up our rice pads in it for tummy aches, sore muscles etc. What do you do? Thanks again for you blog—love it!

  71. http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/programme/programme_rafs/programme_rafs_ft_02_03.html I have read several posts about halogen ovens using radiation to cook foods, similar to a microwave oven. I’m looking for an alternative, as I do not have a microwave, but would like a quick way to reheat food other than how I’m doing it now. My husband d doesn’t cook & wont heat leftovers without a microwave, so a safe, quick alternative would be great. The link above in thd article goes to a halogen cooker. Do you know of another safer, yet quick heating alternative? Thanks 🙂

  72. Great post!! Thank you! We threw our microwave out two-three years ago and are so glad we did. Our food taste so much better and we know we are “saving” ourselves from the radiation they produce. We purchased a convection counter top oven and we really like it. As we all know, convenience is not always healthy or beneficial, so I say “dump the nuke!” and be the healthiest you can be!

  73. I have a question about the convection oven. The one in the link is a countertop one. The description says it cooks using infrared heat. The article on microwaves Wellness Mama cited above says microwaves fall between radio and infrared waves. So isn’t a convection oven ‘worse’ in terms of wave frequency and possible damage than a microwave?

  74. Plenty of people have microwave free homes (including myself), but I have one problem: work! I like a hot meal on my lunch break but my only option is the microwave in the break room, and I do not like cold leftovers, nor do I want to eat a salad every day. I try my best, I don’t put plastic around any of my food, and I’ll eat a meal at least 3 times a week that needs no heat, but it’s hard to avoid the microwave there 🙁

  75. If you choose not to use a microwave because of personal preference, more power to you. But please, for the love of God, stop citing psuedo-science and hear-say. Do some research:





    It has been exhaustively researched and scientifically proven that microwaving does not affect the nutritional value of food any more than traditional cooking (heat breaks down nutrients in fruits and vegetables no matter the source, the speed of microwaving actually helps LIMIT the amount of nutrition lost so it is in fact healthier). Yes, limiting the use of plastics in microwaves is a good idea, but not using a microwave strictly because of rumors and scary stories is simply perpetuating ignorance.

  76. We have done away with our microwave for these very reason! I was wondering though about gas stove/oven verse electric stovetop/oven. We recently found out we have had a small gas leak in our oven for over a year and this has caused health problems in our 15 month old. So I am fearful now to have a gas stove/oven and want to change to an electric to avoid this happening again. I just want to make sure I will not be losing any nutritional value to our food by cooking in a electric oven.

  77. Yikes! The toaster oven you link to has a non-stick interior…!

    We found that the Waring Pro toaster oven TCO650 doesn’t have non-stick, but it’s HUGE!

  78. We use a steamer called Tatung.

  79. Are you able to put your stainless steel bowls/plates in the toaster oven? Or ceramic? We use our toaster for heating leftovers.

    • I do use in the oven and toaster oven… and we don’t use a microwave, but I always warn people not to use them in there!

  80. I would never be without my two microwaves.
    Microwave cooking is about the most efficient use of electricity to cook food.

    And following on from Sammi above, Michael Greger has made it easy to understand.


    He will also explain how to fix the problem of the key enzyme in broccoli being denatured by heat.

  81. We got rid of ours simply because we didn’t have space for it and didn’t like the taste of food that came out of it. Don’t miss it at all.

  82. When microwaves first came out my family had one in the house but since living on my own I have never purchased one. A friend purchased one for me because she was “convinced” that my then six year old (now 23) needed one to pop popcorn or reheat small things instead of using the stove (I was teaching him to cook at a young age). Anyway, I’ve been living on my own since 21 (now 43) and I would never change my mind on getting one. The science has been “iffy” when it comes to if it’s safe for you, your food, or your home so, it was best to not have one.

    I tell friends all the time, when I’m reheating food I can reheat on the stove just about as fast as the microwave. 🙂 some may disagree, but that’s OK. I figure, I don’t want to put my health or those of my family at risk. There are many things out there to have to worry about. This is not one of them.

  83. Hi Katie! I would like to purchase a new toaster oven and I was reading the Cuisinart Toaster Oven Broiler product description that is linked in your article. I am curious about the non-stick interior. I avoid most metallic cooking items labeled non-stick since I assume that they contain Teflon (unless otherwise stated). I called Cuisinart and they confirmed that it is a Teflon coating in this model. What are your thoughts on Teflon and its use on toaster oven interiors? Thank you!

  84. Hi Katie! Thank you so much for your site, it has been eye opening and helpful 🙂 In addition to Jessica’s question about the Teflon coating in the toaster oven, I was wondering what type of pans do you use in your toaster oven? Do you use the Xtrema bake-ware in it? Thanks!

  85. I grew up without a microwave and did just fine. I found that I only re-heated things in mine and I always hated the look of one on my counter top, not to mention the room that it takes up. When my microwave died 6 years ago I decided that was it, I didn’t want another one and I have not missed it one bit. Food warmed up in the oven or on the stove top tastes way better anyway and I have more counter space.


  86. I LOVE my toaster oven. My dad’s a big toaster oven fan and he bought it for me the second I left the house at 18. We still had a microwave up until four years ago when I finally sold it. I love that I can bake a pie without heating up the house. I can bake dinner in summer!

  87. My microwave is used mainly for heat packs for my back etc. Cook or reheat in it???? No way!

  88. I am a certified radiation worker in the nuclear industry and hold a degree in electrical engineering. Part of that certification entails extensive training in radiation sources and their dangers. Part of that degree entails four years’ worth of classes that pretty much all (minus the silly required general education classes) talk about waves and energy transmission at some point. Non-ionizing radiation, such as that produced by your microwave, cellphone, refrigerator, alarm clock, hair dryer, game system, laptop, tablet and so on is NOT dangerous to human health. If you are worried about the effects of your microwave turning your house into a “Radiation Zone” (which is totally bogus, by the way, because a microwave is enclosed with a Faraday cage https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage), you should REALLY stop using all the devices listed in the previous sentence. What you should do is realize that non-ionizing radiation is only able to indirectly affect your health through processes like breaking down plastics or heating grease/water to dangerous levels. Final note, because microwaves heat water, is is most certainly dangerous to have an acute dose of microwave radiation to your eyes.

  89. How does your statement low and slow is better than fast and high fit in with your recent recommendation of the Insta-Pot?

  90. I am Microwave free for 3 years now. When I first got rid of it I wondered how often will I need it for convenience reasons, obviously. After a year without it I noticed that I rarely even remembered about it.

  91. Isn’t it true that the microwave is more energy efficient (and better for the environment) than your alternatives?

  92. No. It is unplugged and used as a recipe book shelf. Haven’t used a microwave for years per my knesiologist’s recommendations.

  93. I know this is an old post but I just found it. I am trying to get away from cooking w/ the microwave & was looking at countertop convection ovens. I saw that they cook w/ convection & infrared, my concern is with infrared. I have read, it emits EMF’s. So, that is my question: does anyone know the safety of a convection oven w/ infrared? Are we just trading one bad thing for another? I could go completely w/ oven use but I live in Arizona & when it’s 120° outside, it rakes hours for the house to cool after oven use, even w/ a/c on.

    • I don’t know about the dangers of infared, but keep in mind a lot of stuff emits EMFs, including blenders and other kitchen appliances. I’ve had a toaster oven for years (instead of a toaster and a microwave) and I love it. I’ve lived in the desert too and it was great being able to bake a pie or something without turning on the big oven. You should check out steam ovens. I really want one but can’t justify the cost just yet.

  94. My husband takes lunch everyday to work and heats it in a microwave. What could he do in that case in order to stop using the microwave?