/ Home & Energy

Saying goodbye to my microwave


My life’s about to change. Not only am I moving flats for the first time since I came to London, my new accommodation will also be sans-microwave. Do you think I’ll be able to live without a microwave?

Jacket potatoes. Porridge. Scrambled eggs. Three things you’ve previously told us microwaves are perfect for. I’ve certainly given the first two a spin – who has time to make a gorgeously crispy jacket potato in oven alone? Microwaving scrambled eggs worries me slightly, but I’d certainly give it go. At least, I would if my new flat had a microwave…

Two thirds of you use your microwave all the time

My prospective landlord says the flat’s ‘furnished’, but this apparently doesn’t include a microwave. It seems I’m now going to be in the minority, as when we last spoke about living without a microwave, nearly two thirds of you told us you use yours all the time. In fact, only one in ten of you said you don’t own or even want a microwave.

And then there was commenter Vic Wilkins, who took her love affair a little further than the rest of us:

‘We have two microwaves, but no oven. We bought a newer microwave because it can do so much more than the older model. But we still keep the older microwave for ‘ready meals’ etc.’

Now, I don’t think I could live without an oven (even if I happened to have two microwaves) like Vic, but will I be able to live without a microwave? I’m going to give it a damn good try, with Alice’s comment to egg me on:

‘You don’t need a microwave. I had a hand me down for a short while and gave it away.’

I’ll miss it for defrosting. But I’ll just be more organised and take my frozen goods out of the freezer the day before. I’ll miss it for softening butter when I’m baking cakes. But I’ll just take the butter bar out of the fridge a few hours before I need it. I’ll miss it for heating up frozen peas, but I’ll just take them to the hob. There’s much to miss, but I’m up for the challenge.

There’s something quite ugly about a microwave anyway – an unattractive square box taking up valuable space on your kitchen worktop. It might be quite liberating to be microwave-less. At least, that’s what I’ll keep saying to myself. Will I survive?

Should Conversation Editor Patrick Steen live without his microwave?

Yes he should (55%, 109 Votes)

No he shouldn't (46%, 91 Votes)

Total Voters: 200

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You can always buy a microwave, Patrick. Check out Which for a best buy! For a quick ready meal, healthy vegetables, apart from the other benefits you know about, why rely on your landlord. Treat yourself!


Yes, we can buy one. But do we need to? I have kettles, toasters, irons etc to buy as well, so I’d like to save where possible! I’ll let you know how I get on.


It would be interesting to know how much energy you might save (or not) using a microwave to cook vegetables, heat a mug full of drink, heat a ready meal etc. vs. hob, kettle, oven. Can’t help with the toast or ironing though.


Have I missed something here? Why would Patrick want to live without a microwave oven? So far as I know they are cheap, convenient and safe so what’s the problem?


No problem, but do I really need it?


I have never read a which? report, but I think you will find (if you read them?) that on power saving grounds alone a microwave oven is a good investment if you regularly cook at home.

Quentin says:
27 April 2013

I have been without a microwave for 4 yrs now and I haven’t missed it once; I cook far more from scratch and now exactly what goes into all our food (no horse)! I love having the extra work surface in the kitchen that was taken up by what was essentially an oversized timer.


I wonder why you assume that microwaves are only used for ready-meals and pre-cooked junk.
I never buy ready-meals, I cook everything from scratch using fresh ingredients and know what is in it. I cook a large quantity of something healthy and freeze it in individual portions. With the microwave, defrosting and reheating are much quicker, and doing it this way I save not only time but also energy costs. Vegetables are also much tastier cooked in the microwave.


Steamed fresh vegetables are much tastier than microwaved frozen ones – except peas.


I really do not understand this one. The energy savings of a microwave for veggies at least, together with the improved protien and vitamin retention makes them a must for any functioning kitchen.


Patrick has owned a microwave oven, so is in a very good position to make the decision whether to buy one. In the recent Conversation about coffee addiction, Patrick mentions that he is considering whether to buy a coffee capsule machine or to stick to filter coffee. Buying a product that you have not owned before seems a much more difficult decision to me.

I have no problem living without a microwave oven when on holiday but would not like to be without one for any length of time.

NannyTheo says:
27 April 2013

I’ve had a microwave of one sort or another for over 20 years now and see it as an integral part of my cooking appliances. When we fitted a new kitchen 5 years ago I made the decision to have an all singing/dancing 850W microwave instead of a second smaller oven and it’s integrated above my main oven and not on a worktop where it takes up space. I think it has been a very good decision as it has a grill, convection oven and pre-programmed cycles for combination cooking and de-frosting. It’s very versatile and cooks food much more quickly than oven or stove top methods which, in our energy conscious society, is an important factor. I have used it for cooking chicken (whole and joints), casseroles, curries, soups, steamed puds (seconds not hours for Xmas pud), regular de-frosting (I always forget to take stuff out of the freezer!) and cooking all sorts of fish dishes (steaming white fish takes only a few minutes) and salmon is lovely. I rarely buy pre-cooked food but on the odd occasions I do it reheats perfectly from both frozen and chilled. I can cook baked potatoes more quickly but they still taste and look like oven baked when I use the convection/microwave facility. It’s brilliant at warming plates (2/3 mins) and was invaluable when my husband was working abroad for 12 months and I was cooking for one. The mistake we often make is to buy basic models (which have their place in some people’s lives) and expect them to substitute for long slow oven cooking methods which develop flavour. When microwaves are used to their full potential they can do remarkably clever things, we just need some lessons on how to use them to their full potential and to think carefully about what we want them to do for us. Personally I wouldn’t be without one and use it daily for all sorts of things – there’s definitely room for a new cookery programme (did I really say that!) which shows us how to get the best out of them. They are not a substitute for conventional methods but there is a place for them when used properly.


Well put by Nanny… aforesaid… the ubiquitous microwave –
upmarket model- can do almost everything save and except a
Chinese restaurant ‘super-hot’ stir-fries that they seem to do
so well…. as I understand it, the domestic stove’s thermal output
is not quite good or high enough.