Heating Food Without a Microwave

by Kelly · 6 comments

in Thoughts On Food & Cooking

My microwave died at the end of May. We decided not to replace it immediately, and now, three months later we’ve decided not to replace it at all. We only miss it on certain occasions, like when my dad sent us a big box full of goodies, including a Costco sized supply of microwave popcorn. Oh well, we’ll just have to invite ourselves over to friends’ houses for movie nights!

So, although we had to relearn some habits, heating, reheating and defrosting food without a microwave has been fairly easy. Here’s how we do it.

Bain Marie (water bath) This is the quickest of all the methods and so it’s what I usually use when heating the baby’s food or defrosting frozen veggies for the meal I’m preparing. It’s ideal for these purposes as it’s best used when you don’t want the food you’re heating to get too hot. Place the food in a container (tupperware, a bowl) and put that container into a larger one. Then pour boiling water in the larger bowl and let it sit for about five minutes. You can add more hot water if necessary.

Ambient heat I discovered this one night when I wanted to heat some frozen mixed vegetables for my daughter’s dinner. I was going to boil them, but then I realized that I could put them into a metal dish and place the dish on top of the oven, in which I was baking some chicken. After about five minutes the veggies were nice and warm. Make sure to stir well before serving, and always test the temperature before serving food to a baby!

Fridge The safest way to defrost meat is in a fridge, overnight, with the meat in a plastic bag and then in a bowl to contain drips. Of course the French completely ignore all food safety preparation tips, but that doesn’t mean you should. You might have to plan ahead a bit more- no more deciding to bake chicken at the last minute.

Do you have a microwave? What do you use it for? Do you think you could do without one?


1 Michelle September 15, 2008

Great tips Kelly!

Michelles last blog post..Move Over June Cleaver!

2 Karen September 15, 2008

We haven’t had a microwave for over two years. We choose not to have one. When it’s not so easy to heat up convenience foods, it encourages you to eat whole foods. I’ve also always hated the way the microwave pulls the moisture out and anything and everything you heat in it.

We defrost meat in the refrigerator. Meal planning comes in handy here, because we just look at our menu for the week every night to find out what needs to go into the fridge to defrost. In a pinch, you can put the meat in a bowl of cool water in the sink and turn the faucet on so a tiny but constant stream of water is dripping into the bowl. The constant motion of the water will defrost a small piece of meat like a chicken breast in about 20-30 minutes.

For reheating leftovers, we’ve found that there’s nothing you can do in a microwave that you can’t do on the stove top or in the oven. It takes a little longer, but the food tastes better when it’s reheated slowly anyway. I used to hate reheated pizza because the microwave made it so chewy. Reheated in the oven, leftover pizza tastes just as good as fresh!

My husband is a popcorn freak. If he’s craving it, we buy Jiffy Pop (yes, they still sell that. We’ve bought it in our grocery store and Target). It’s actually a really fun way to pop popcorn, and I’m sure kids would get a real kick out of it!

Karens last blog post..A productive weekend in the fight against clutter

3 Kelly September 15, 2008

Karen- any special techniques for popping popcorn, or do you just stick in a pot?

4 Amy September 16, 2008

I went for years without a microwave. Like lots of little conviences, it only seems necesary when you have it! I defrosted things in the fridge or under running water, but I like your idea to do so in a water bath. By the way, I had an air popper for popcorn. We still use that instead of microwave popcorn because of all the scary reports we’ve heard about the chemicals in microwave popcorn!

Amys last blog post..Carnival of Money Stories #77

5 cindy September 19, 2008

How do the French ignore food safety? Just curious. I was in France 9 years ago and loved, loved, loved the food (and everything else)


6 Kelly September 19, 2008


They have a different concept of what needs to go in the fridge, for example. My mother in law will live a baked casserole, with meat and cream, on the countertop all night, and the next day, and then reheat it and serve for dinner. And lest anyone think that I’m jumping all over her because she’s my mother in law, I’ve seen others do it too!

They are also famous for cooking meat much less than we do, which is delicious, but risky. These are just a few of the examples I can think of.

I agree, the food is delicious, however! And I think that sometimes Americans can go overboard on food safety- and that maybe there are a few lessons to be learned from them.

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