How to Warm Up Food Without a Microwave

Our family stopped using a microwave about six years ago when we began our healthy eating journey.  We still have a microwave, because it is a permanent fixture above my stove and would be a pain to take down.  Guests do use it occasionally, which means that I should probably actually clean it every once in a while.  But in general, I’ve pretty much forgotten that it exists.

Why do we not use a microwave?

I’d like to write an entire post about why you may want to consider avoiding the use of a microwave oven.  But I’m not a girl who uses big words or who can write informative sentences about the dangers of microwaves, imparting knowledge like, “The apparent additional energy exhibited by the luminescent bacteria was merely an extra confirmation.”  Shoot, not only can I not write a sentence like that, I can’t even read one and come away feeling like I have an actual working brain in my head.  Therefore, if you’d like to read all the big words and reasons for avoiding a microwave, I encourage you to check out all of the helpful information in this article.

Otherwise, in Laura’s simple and non-big-word language:  We don’t use a microwave because we think that it makes our food yucky.

The question I receive often then is:  How do you warm up leftovers if you don’t have a microwave?

Easy.  I warm up our food on either the stove-top, in our oven, or in our toaster oven.

Pardon the fairly ugly picture, but really, how cute can leftovers in a saucepan actually be?!  ;)

I usually add just a shot of water to the saucepan with our leftovers to keep the food from sticking.  I have also found that it is a good idea to keep the heat at a medium setting and to stir often.  If I’m rewarming Creamy Mac and Cheese or something else milk based, instead of adding a shot of water, I will add a shot of milk, which keeps the food creamy!

To warm up Pizza, Taco Corn Fritters, Popcorn Chicken, or Burritos and such, I’ll use our oven or toaster oven.  We LOVE our toaster oven!  We pop the food in, put it on “toast” or “bake” depending on what we want, walk away and do something else for a few minutes, then our food is perfect.

toaster oven

While a microwave might take one minute to warm up your food, I’d say the stovetop takes about two minutes.  A toaster oven might take five.  Those few extra minutes really don’t hurt my feelings very much.  It’s not so hard to wait.  My food tastes better rewarmed this way, plus I don’t have to worry about it losing it’s nutritional quality.  Those are a few extra minutes well spent.

What are your thoughts about using a microwave?  How do you warm up leftovers?

Comments

  1. Katie says

    We have a tiny kitchen and I decided to conserve space that I would get rid of the toaster and the microwave, and get a nice toaster oven. Ours can make 6 pieces of toast at a time, so plenty for our whole family (right now at least) and it does the work of both appliances. The one thing that I miss it for is microwave popcorn, but I got an air popper, so that is healthier anyway. It has been over a year now, and I have no plans of going back!

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  2. says

    First, I love your blog! I recently found it via Keeper of the Home and just love it(and KOTH). I am by no means a health foodie (yet) but I love the inspiration/motivation I get from reading blogs such as yours that make the transition seem like an attainable goal.

    My husband and I have been together for 12 yrs (married for 5) and we’ve never had a microwave. I much prefer the toaster oven for all the reasons you’ve mentioned and we also utilize our stove top and oven for reheating purposes too. Now that we have a toddler, the question of whether to get a micro has come up here and there but we’re still holding out and staying loyal to our toaster oven. If nothing else that the nutritional benefit that is kept in reheating via stove top, etc. versus micro.

    Glad to know we’re not the only couple who actually CHOSE not to have a microwave :)

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  3. Priscilla says

    This may have been touched on, but my question is: HOW DO YOU HEAT UP TINY AMOUNTS OF FOOD FOR MY 6 MONTH OLD BABY? I guess I like the idea of using the toaster oven, but any other suggestions?

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    Holly in Virginia Reply:

    Easy! put some water in a small saucepan. Put the dab of baby food in a
    small jar, put the jar in the water, and voila! warm baby food.

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    Steph Reply:

    I used my bottle warmer

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  4. Jamie Baker says

    Well, it seems many of us have already gotten rid of the microwave and learned to get by without it. One thing I liked in our instant, fast food world, is that it taught our children (and us, and visitors) a bit of patience. Not a bad side benefit.

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  5. Amber S. says

    We stopped using our microwave about a year ago when it started making scary noises while in use. At the same time, our old, small toaster oven was on it’s last leg, so we decided to replace both of them with a new, larger toaster oven. We haven’t missed the microwave at all. I had been using it several times a day, especially for heating the baby’s milk, but now it just takes a few extra seconds on the stove top. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much better our leftovers taste. Leftover pizza is SO much better in the toaster oven! Some find it hard to believe that we got rid of our microwave (“but how are you gonna make popcorn??”), but we’re happy we did. :)

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  6. says

    When our microwave died several years ago, we never replaced it. We also use the stove top, oven and our convection toaster oven to warm things up. The only thing I even remotely miss our microwave for, is warming moistened towels for heat wraps!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

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  7. Carolyn says

    Thanks for the good reminder Laura. Lately has bothered me more and more about using microwave, and avoid when can.

    Use occasionally for baked potatoes, or warming something. And the rice bags – thanks to those who gave suggestion to try clothes dryer on high. I am going to try that.

    Toaster oven – using it more and more. Mine is large EuroPro “Digital Convection Oven” from Lowes about 4 yrs ago $99. Fits 12″ pizza pan. Has a timer, inside light, pizza function, even a “defrost” function.

    Just unplugged the microwave – maybe the inconvenience will make me stop and think of an alternative method.

    I really do appreciate you, Laura, and all you ladies and your help, encouragement, and inspiration!

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  8. Aimee says

    The microwave does make my life easier at times, so I’m not ready to just get rid of it. However, “everything in moderation” seems to be a good path to follow. A combination of the stove top, oven, toaster oven and microwave seem to fit our family of 5 just perfectly.

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  9. Christi says

    I don’t microwave a lot, mainly for leftovers, but there is enough of a question mark there for me to give giving it up a try! I will point out that even God’s way of heating food (open fire) allegedly causes cancer. There is also research that shows that any kind of cooking destroys a lot of nutrients so a raw diet is actually the most healthful. Just more for everyone to consider.:)

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  10. Rejoicedover says

    Years ago, I lived in Eastern Europe and there were no microwaves (or toaster ovens available)! It took me a bit to adjust my reheating skills, but eventually I was able to rewarm meals without scorching them or turning it to mush. Thanks for the reminder of how easy it can be to rewarm/cook without a microwave.

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  11. Sjondi says

    We used to have a permanent above-stove microwave…it was our bread box. Great place to store our homemade bread. Yes, we would have the occasional guest who would like to use it which would require me to get out some bread crumbs :) Way back when, I always thought microwaved water was gross…just something not right about it.

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  12. says

    We’re looking at a house rental that has a built-in microwave. I’m thinking I will use it like another cabinet. I’ve heard it can be a good place to let your bread rise.

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  13. says

    Do to limited space I chose a toaster oven over the microwave – don’t miss the microwave at all. A toaster oven reheats things so nicely and we never have to worry about some foods getting soggy.

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  14. Carson says

    We’ve been off the microwave for about 3 years, and it’s been great. Toaster oven – best appliance to own. We only microwave food that had no nutritional value to begin with.

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  15. Barbra says

    Thank you Laura! We haven’t used a micro since shortly after getting married, about 4 years ago. Don’t miss it at all. We believe our food is healthier.
    I found out the best way to reheat rice, veggies and chicken is in our steamer. Just that little metal one that fits into a pot. The rice texture and taste is just as if it was freshly made, works great for rice that has been frozen. Have tried lasagna and pizza in the steamer, too. I met a fellow at Woodman’s store one time and he bought one that restaurants use, he told me about reheating pizza that way…but the cheese dripped through and made quite a mess and the pizza was kind of mushy, so I prefer the fry pan for pizza, my husband prefers the toaster oven.
    From reading the comments, I’m challenged to use the toaster oven more, but due to a small amount of counter space, it is in a cupboard and well, I just get plain lazy. For me, the stove top is more convenient.
    Thanks for your great site, Laura.

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  16. Melinda Johnson says

    My in laws introduced me to a toaster oven and we use it a ton! One question I warm up my coffee in the microwave usually, would you just do that on the stovetop in a pan? Awesome idea to replace above the stove micro with toaster oven! Thanks!

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  17. says

    So, on the subject of toaster ovens, what brands/models of toaster ovens do you all have and recommend? We would like to purchase one since we’ve stopped using our microwave a few months ago, but I don’t want to waste money on one that won’t be worth its cost.

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  18. Dione says

    We haven’t had a microwave in 10 years. I have had many of the same questions asked over the years. Funny, Grandma never had a microwave and no one ever questioned her, lol.

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  19. Laura says

    prefer the no micro route here, too. Mostly use toaster oven for leftovers and sometimes stovetop. It’s really just a few more minutes so if I plan ahead, it’s no trouble – esp. knowing our food is less yucky!

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  20. Christa says

    Does anyone find it funny that we need lessons on re-heating food WITHOUT a microwave? Can you imagine actually living without one?

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  21. Chris says

    We don’t have a microwave either. What I miss the most, I think, is making quick baked potatoes :(

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    Barbra Reply:

    Ahh, but think of how much healthier your food is…

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    Erika Reply:

    Oh, my mom always makes baked potatoes in her microwave, and they are never as good as baked in the oven. Big difference! You know, to save energy costs, you could make your baked potatoes in the crock pot. Only $.02 per hour compared to over $1.00 per hour in the oven. Blessings!

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  22. Marjorie says

    Thank You! Been thinking about this for some time now. Will NOT be using ours anymore. Just about to build a new house, and will not be adding a microwave to the floorplan for the kitchen! Appreciate your website!

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  23. Laura says

    You inspired me to heat up our homemade left overs of Mac-n-cheese today with the stove. You’re right, doesn’t take much longer. I grew up with a toaster oven so that is a lifesaver in our house, especially for smaller meals and summer months – no hot oven! Love your blog!! Your bagels ROCK!!

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  24. says

    We have been a “no Micro” home for a little over a year. I love it. Like you, we use the stove top for many of our leftovers, and we just purchased a toaster oven in January. The toaster oven is great for the foods we want to be crispy.

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  25. says

    I am proud to say: I do NOT own a microwave oven.

    My boyfriend keeps telling me that he is going to buy one because he hates heating things up in the oven, but somehow I have managed to distract him with shiny objects when we go shopping.

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  26. abbie fultz says

    to heat up baby food and the bottle just keep a small crockpot with water in it and put it on warm. just put your jar in it with the lid on and same for your bottle. ive also put hot water in sink and thawed out breastmilk to warm up. u dont want to kill and the good nutrients by nuking. as for popcorn we use the stove top we have a popcorn popper that you spin the handle and the wire turns on the inside, i havent noticed that it takes any longer than the microwave. plus there isnt any of that greasy salty stuff that your not sure what is and shouldnt naturally be that orange color. lol

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  27. Erika says

    I read your article on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning, a friend told me that her friend did a science experiment with her kids with their microwave for the science fair. They got two identical plants and set them on their kitchen counter. They boiled water each day, cooled it, then fed it to their plants. The only difference between the two plants is that for one, they fed it boiled water from the microwave, and the other, they fed it water boiled on the stove. IN FIVE DAYS THE PLANT FED THE WATER BOILED IN THE MICROWAVE DIED! They studied about how the microwave does change the molecular makeup of our food. So even though it looks the same, it truly changes it into something unusable to plants, our bodies, etc.

    I also did a Wikipedia search on microwave technology, and found out that it was developed by the Russian government to quickly cook meals for their soldiers while in combat. And now it’s in America used by just about everyone.

    After hearing my friend’s story, I came home and took the microwave to the trash. :)

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  28. Michelle says

    I don’t use the microwave a whole lot either. We also have a toaster/convection oven that I prefer to use for things that need to be crispy (leftover pizza, etc). But another thing I do is I put leftovers in food saver bags and freeze them. (I try to do individual serving sizes.) Then just take the bag out of the freezer and put in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. My parents smoke a lot of meat (brisket, pulled pork, etc.) and give us some occasionally in food saver bags. When I boil them in the bags, it smells like it just came out of the smoker!

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  29. Sarah says

    We always heated our foods in the microwave, except for soup on the stove-top and pizza in the toaster oven. Just started reading about the dangers of microwave cooking again, so we’ve been trying different methods of heating foods up. Rice reheats really well in a steamer basket; except it sometimes seems to steam some of the seasonings off. We also have an Aroma Convection oven that works great for reheating leftovers. So far we’ve not found one thing that we’ve been unable to reheat microwave-less. Thanks for the link to that article; it was very informative!

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  30. Emily Brouse says

    Microwave ovens are certainly useful when you desire to cook some foodstuff as quickly as possible. It save myself a lot of time whenever it comes to cooking.

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  31. Jenni says

    Wow! Looked at this blog trying to find ideas for my husband to reheat his lunch at work because they don’t have a microwave. That Dr. Hertzel guy is a freak! The “evidences” given in the article make absolutely no sense even if u do understand the big medical terms they use. I love my microwave other than the fact its old and will probably die soon. Once it does I definitly plan on replacing it with a new shiny one to heat WATER for my family to enjoy! :) I understand wanting to make things fresh but the only reason microwaved food can hurt ut is that it was already that way before it was microwaved! Thanks to the person who posted an alternate view on the safty of microwaves. Common sense, please!

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  32. carolee1945 says

    I just got rid of my microwave, and I feel like I have a new kitchen without it. I do not have a toaster oven, no room, but I do have a toaster that fits in a small space. Maybe I could replace the toaster with a toaster oven. Does anyone here recommend a small toaster oven? It seems like everything I buy these days breaks right away. I guess I could check Amazon for toaster oven reviews.

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  33. carolee1945 says

    By the way, I have been reheating food using a double boiler and/or steam basket. Tricky, though. Reheating without a microwave does take some practice.

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  34. Rachel says

    hi there just want to say that anyone ever dougbting the use of the microwave is bad tell them to do this experiment , take water from a tap and feed a plant , then take water that has been heated from a microwave and cooled and you will see the plant will not sprout , it takes all life force out of food, it’s a cool experiment , i recently took out my microwave stainless steel brand new over the stove real nice, eh (not) anyway replaced it with a fan, and use our toaster oven , and another thing the germans invented the microwave and guess what is banned in germany a microwave that should tell us all something eh. or simply read kevin trudeau’s book that will wake you up like it did with my family big time , best thing i ever did was read his book good luck to a better health to all of us not using a microwave anymore,

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  35. Serenity says

    Wow! I must been out of it… I had not really ever heard that the microwave was bad for you! I am going to show this to my husband. Thanks for the helpful info…

    I love the idea of using the empty microwave to store homemade bread! I don’t care for clutter on my counters so this would be perfect :)

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  36. syd says

    I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to point out that popcorn can easily be made on the stove with just a pot and a lid. Put in a little oil or butter, throw in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of popcorn, and a few minutes later and some salt you’ve got a bowl of great tasting popcorn.

    Everytime I have guests over and do this they seem amazed, like they have never seen this before. Seems like this has been forgotten.

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