A while back, I noticed something interesting about our microwave. Something besides the fact that it took up a lot of counter space. We mostly used it for storage. We put the tortillas and bread in it (like a bread box!). We had a plant (not to mention junk and dust) on top of it. If I got meat down for dinner from the freezer and had to leave the house, we’d put it in the microwave to defrost (as in sit in there, not as in using the ‘defrost’ setting) so that Josie couldn’t get to it. We used it for all kinds of things… just not to heat food.
I don’t really like microwaved food. Since we mostly cook with whole foods and don’t eat a lot of TV dinners or instant foods, it was pretty much useless for cooking. I don’t like it even for leftovers. It makes crispy stuff soggy (like pizza crust). It makes soft stuff crunchy (like noodles or tortillas). It makes soup and drinks too hot. It heats unevenly (like a frozen burrito: burning hot on the outside, icicle in the middle). I would usually use the stove or our toaster oven to reheat stuff. We use a teapot to heat water.
So I started to wonder, was it just me? Did Rick use the microwave more often? There was already a ban on microwaving food for Henry (yes, I really do have a paranoia about the speedy cooking wonder, but that’s not what this blog is about). I wanted that valuable counter space back. It shouldn’t be wasted on something we never use!
But was our microwave more than just a glorified bread box? I decided to observe. For few weeks I hadn’t noticed either of us using it. I admit, during that time, I made a conscience effort not to use it. I wondered if Rick was using it in the mornings before I was out of bed. I decided to hatch the “microwave eradication plan.”
I told Rick that I noticed we really didn’t use the microwave all that much. And that I was thinking if we went for a whole month without using it once, we should get rid of it. He figured that we used it more than I thought, but agreed to go along with my plan as long as we could store the microwave in the basement, just in case we changed our minds.
Well, a month went by microwave free. There were a few times when both of us reached for it but, after a moment’s thought, found another way to heat our food. The microwave was officially banished from my kitchen.
I suddenly noticed a lot of changes that went along with the microwave’s move to storage. We quit using plastic wrap. You can’t really put plastic wrapped food in the toaster oven. In fact, we really cut down on all the plastic we used around the kitchen. We starting putting left overs in glass containers instead of the Rubbermaid or Tupperware, or wrapping them in aluminum foil. My mom even gave me the old glass food storage containers, with glass lids, that my grandmother had (she lived 60 some years without a microwave until the 80’s). Glass is BPA free, and both glass and foil are reusable and ultimately recyclable.
We started paying attention to the prepackaged food we bought. Can it be prepared without the microwave? Is it’s packaging reusable or recyclable? Can we make this ourselves from whole foods that come in little to no packaging? –Packaging became really important after we cancelled the trash service!
Soon, we found it was easier and more convenient to leave the prepackaged food behind. Not to mention tastier! Fresh fruits and veggies, spices, real flavors. Buying bulk pasta and making sauces (cream sauce, tomato sauce, cheese sauce) ourselves from fresh ingredients took about the same amount of time and effort, plus gave us lots of versatile ingredients in the kitchen. I can think of tons of uses for cheese and milk, but very few (only one, actually) for the cheese sauce mix in a box of noodles. Homemade popcorn from a pot or kettle is so much tastier and healthier then the artificially flavored microwave stuff.
It’s been more than a year now without the microwave. I do miss it occasionally. Usually when I don’t drink my coffee fast enough and it gets cold. But overall, I’m happier without it. Although I didn’t get that counter space back, we put a bread machine there instead… Is it possible to live without all the modern conveniences?
What things, big or small, have you done to live greener and healthier?