Living Without a Microwave

For the last three weeks, I have been living without a microwave in my apartment. This is not by choice, not entirely. For reasons that I can't figure out, one day it just stopped making food hot. Everything else about it worked - the timer, the tray that spins, even the light inside would turn on if you pressed the "start" button. But a microwave that doesn't make food hot isn't a microwave, it's an end table. So I moved it out with the garbage.

I figured this was a great chance to try an experiment. The more I thought about it, the easier it was going to be to live without a microwave. Who needs food hot in one minute, anyway? I mean, who needs that? It sounds like the most luxurious thing in the world. And it's really convenient. But it's not necessary. Not to mention, what kind of person was I to be relying so much on a piece of kitchen equipment that cooks food with radiation?

So I decided not to replace it. The times I miss it most are when I have some leftovers or a cup of coffee that need reheating. But even those aren't really difficult situations. I use a non-stick pan to reheat food. I make more coffee. The world keeps spinning.

Here's three things that helped me deal:

I planned ahead.
I gave up the luxury of being able to put a meal together in five minutes. I had to think in advance about what I was going to eat that night, and whether or not I needed to specially prepare anything. By defrosting proteins ahead of time, I put more thought into my food and ended up with more satisfying meals.

I cooked. A lot.
Microwaves are mostly used to make processed
food, like frozen dinners. That's not to say that they're also not used
to cook fresh food, but I'm sure more people make burritos than sweet
potatoes in their microwaves at home. I made it more of a priority to
grocery shop 2-3 times a week, so I had food that was fresh to be
cooked, and when I was hungry, I cooked it. And I did not starve waiting
for it to finish.

I enjoyed my food.
It's really easy to microwave something. And because it's so easy, we don't always appreciate it. The harder you work at putting a meal together, the more you'll enjoy it. The sweet is never as sweet without the sour. Sure, you an heat something up and eat it and it'll make you full, but you wouldn't have the experience of prepping your ingredients, choosing your spices, and spending a little bit of time making something taste really good. If nothing else, it let me realize that microwaves are luxuries, not necessities.

I'm still not sure if I'm going to buy a new microwave - they are not exactly expensive these days - but I'm not sure I need it. And the longer I can go without using radiation to cook my food, the better off I think I'll be.

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