Getting Rid of the Microwave: Background
I was never a big user of microwave. The only reason I even had one in the kitchen was because Flaneur came with one, which he inherited from his mother. Even then, getting rid of the microwave still took some oomph.
I probably used our microwave a couple of times a month to thaw and reheat frozen rice. That was really the only use we had for the ugly space hog. We kept it around because we had no reason to get rid of it: There was space; it came in handy every once in a while; and it was already there.
All that changed when we moved to NYC and had to get rid of close to half of our belongings. The size of our apartment went from 1,400 sqft to about 600, of which at least 10% is the staircase. Our kitchen went from a stand-alone 120+ square footer to a 200 square-foot space that’s shared between the kitchen unit along one wall and the dining area.
That meant, among other things, that there was not enough counter space for the microwave, unless we wanted to a) put it in front of the only window in the room and b) stare at its glorious beauty all the time, because we’d be hanging out in that dining space on a regular basis. (I tend to hang out at the dining table rather than on the couch; I guess that’s how I grew up.) Something had to give, and it was the microwave.
Getting Rid of the Microwave: the Why(s)
The decision wasn’t a difficult one to make:
- The microwave was ugly and big. Keeping it would have meant that it’d be looming in my sight all the time, which didn’t excite me.
- I wasn’t using it much anyway. I did consider what inconvenience getting rid of the microwave would cause when reheating frozen rice. Not having a microwave meant that I’d have to boil some water, put on our bamboo steamer, line it with a piece of cloth and steam-thaw/heat the frozen rice that way. That gave me pause; it seemed like a lot more steps to go through than using the microwave, and a lot more instruments I’d have to wash afterward. But then I remembered that I never enjoyed removing the microwave-softened plastic wrap from the scalding hot rice. In the end, washing bamboo steamer seemed more palatable.
- In general, I dislike unitaskers, and the microwave (at least for my life at the moment) was a unitasker–a giant, ugly one.
- There was no place to put it. If we kept the microwave, something else had to go, and I couldn’t think of anything else from my kitchen to take its place in the trash.
- And, I guess this played a factor, too: I didn’t pay for it.
So, out it went.
How I Got Rid of the Microwave
Did we actually put it out for trash? No. I technically still have it–it sits in the communal kitchen at my work, and gets used every day to reheat lunch and make hot water. I doubt that I’d bring it back home when I leave my current position, though. I haven’t used it at home for such a long time that I now know for sure that I can live without it unless my lifestyle goes through a big change, and that the lack of microwave isn’t that inconvenient, at least for the way I eat, cook and live. When I move on, the microwave will likely be my parting gift.
(Apparently, I’m missing out on a lot, though, according to this Life Hack article.)
I think there are a few reasons I could get rid of the microwave, going beyond the few points above about it being ugly and not used all that often:
- I didn’t have to feel guilty about discarding something that still works and has value, because the microwave only moved to my office (and it gets used more there than in my kitchen, come to think of it).
- I didn’t fret about “getting rid of” the microwave, because if it turned out that I did miss having it around, I could always bring it back home (and figure out where the heck I’d put it–most likely in the bathtub!).
What does this mean? I think the lesson here is that trial separation might work for stuff that you want to get rid of but you can’t be 100% sure you’ll be happier without it. Obviously not everyone can dump their unwanted microwaves or other household appliances at work, but one can always stash something away in a box, in a corner of a closet or any other out-of-the-way places in the house to see how life goes on (or not) without ready access to that thing. If you realize that you do want to have it around, all you need to do is to dig it back out; if you don’t miss it at all, great, it can go to the thrift store.
Life without the Microwave
Uh… I don’t even think about microwaves. If I need to reheat leftovers, I reheat it in my beloved toaster oven. Put the leftover in a oven-proof container (quite often, just the tray that came with the oven, lined with a piece of aluminum foil), cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and use the oven’s “reheat” function, which seems to work really well, using gentler heat than bake or toast functions. For frozen rice, I just use the bamboo steamers.
For TV dinners and frozen lunches? I tried a TV dinner once, just to see what that’s like, and never touched them since. So, no need for a microwave there. (And I don’t have a hungry teenager who devours pizza pockets and other things that require a microwave. Yay?)