Tips for Reheating Food without a Microwave

Soon after my full conversion to traditional food, I decided to get rid of my microwave for health reasons. There are conclusive studies showing the microwaves effect on food, but if nothing else I was eager to make some more space in my tiny kitchen for all of the real food cooking I was about to begin doing!.

Living without a microwave is not as complicated as one might imagine. Our grandmothers certainly did it just fine! In my opinion, the main reason to use a microwave is to reheat leftovers. After the novelty of "cooking everything in the microwave" wore off in the late 80's, we all realized that the texture of most things, when cooked in the micro, was far less superior. Then the microwave was relegated to the job of heating up leftovers, which can be done effectively in some other ways:

The toaster oven.

Not only cheaper and more space-efficient, the toaster oven is dual-purpose in that it can toast bagels and bread, and it can reheat small, lunch-sized containers of leftovers. I also cook bacon in my toaster oven and make dulse chips for quick, nourishing snacks for my kids. The other great thing about the toaster oven is that it saves on energy (compared to the stove or conventional oven). And while it can't have your food done in 30 seconds, if you can wait 5-10 minutes, you'll usually have your meal reheated sufficiently and with a far superior texture. Case in point: have you ever eaten pizza reheated in the microwave?

Tips for reheating in a toaster oven:

1) Store your leftovers in pyrex glass containers to make heating up leftovers quick, as these containers fit nicely into the toaster oven.

2) Cover your dish loosely with foil to avoid burning the top of the meal. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes. Check thereafter every 5 minutes until heated to your liking.

3) When cooking bacon, place uncooked bacon on the wire rack on top of the baking sheet that comes with your toaster oven. Cook the bacon according to package directions and you will have drained bacon and all of the drippings that can be saved!

Tips for Leftover Makeovers:

1) In addition to toaster ovens, one great way to reheat leftovers is to incorporate them somehow into another meal. My favorite way is to combine leftover meats in with homemade bone broth and veggies (leftover or not) to make a soup. Season to taste as you like.

2) Here are some of my favorite, quick and easy soup ideas that lend themselves to leftover "makeovers".

3) Leftover grains or porridge can be mixed with eggs and choice of seasonings, then fried in butter or lard for "fried mush".

4) Leftover rice tastes great "refried" with egg, leftover meat chunks, onions, and peas for a simple Asian-inspired fried rice. Try my leftover sneaky liver rice for a nutrient-dense, thrifty one-pot meal!

5) If you have leftover baked potatoes, chop them up and saute briefly in butter, bacon drippings, or coconut oil and season with your favorite blend of salt and spices for "home fries". Baked potatoes also blend well with chicken stock and fresh herbs to make a creamy soup.

6) Rachel, the Healthy Cooking Coach, enlightened me as to how delicious roasted veggies are cold on a bed of salad greens! No reheating required!

Reheating liquids without a microwave:

A hot water bath works very well for reheating liquids without a microwave. Fill a 2-quart saucepan about half full with water. Add your liquid, in its own glass container, to the saucepan and gradually heat the water to almost a rolling boil. Your liquid should be warm enough before it begins boiling, so check for your preferred temperature. This works great for softening peanut butter that might have gotten too hard in the fridge as well!

This is what works for me, and hopefully this post has been helpful in demystifying the microwave-free kitchen! Please visit Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more inspiring traditional kitchen tips in this week's Real Food Wednesday Carnival!


Beth @ The Natural Mommy said...

I've been wanting to wean myself from the microwave for awhile now, but ... the LEFTOVERS! :-) Thanks for this post. I may have to check craigslist for toaster ovens!

Kim @ Forever Wherever said...

Neat! Thanks for sharing!

Christina said...

we do not have a microwave, either. i do the same thing you do re. leftovers... re heat them in our toaster oven. it is great. the only time that i miss my microwave is when i did not plan ahead my meals and decide to cook some sort of meat and need to quickly defrost it. that doesn't happen too often (and now we are in lent so it won't happen for a few months:)

Kelly the Kitchen Kop said...

Christina, just get a toaster oven that has the defrost function, I love it! You still have to think ahead a little, but it does save some time. :)

Thanks for the great tips, Carrie!

FoodRenegade said...

Oh, I've wanted a toaster oven for a looong time. But some other kitchen appliance always seemed more important to me.

Thanks to your post, I'm now back on a toaster oven kick!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

You know what's so funny about toaster ovens? We received 3 for our wedding!!!! We gradually doled them out to other friends for their weddings, but our little Black and Decker we got 7+ years ago is still going strong! But, it doesn't have a defrost function. Kel, which model do you have? If and when ours "retires" I will surely look for a defrost feature as well!!!

Michelle said...

thanks. i really hate using the microwave! it's good to hear how you are handling reheating without it.

Alyss said...

I also live without a microwave and never have a problem. I will, admitadly, eat leftovers cold out of the fridge most of the time :)
Actually, I had a conversation with my new roommate today about dealing with leftovers - I may forward this blog post to him :)

Sarah said...

These are great comments and tips! Thanks! We've been planning on switching over from the microwave to a toaster oven, and this might be the push that we need!


Ian Poornan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian Poornan said...

With referencing to heating food, what about the risk of food poisining as
shown on the NHS website:

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship said...

I wish I would have come across this post a few weeks back. I have an initiative at my site to encourage people to consider alternatives to microwave use. Please consider this your formal invite to Mind the Microwave in May -- come on over to sign up! www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/05/05/mind-mic-invite/

Ktietje85 said...

I found this just today and I am glad. We've been on a real food journey for months and have been trying to kick the microwave habit for awhile. Then we found out through some testing how badly the plastic-microwave situation has affected my husband (the primary one who uses microwaves when he brings his lunch to work), and we have to find an alternative. We picked up some glass containers and a hot plate but are considering a toaster oven. Can Pyrex really be used in a toaster oven? Ours says not to. I have a blog where I discuss a lot of this stuff -- www.modernalternativemama.blogspot.com.

Julia said...

Great post (sorry I'm late to the party)! We stopped using our microwave last year and I don't miss it one iota.

I bought a convection oven and it's PERFECT for reheating leftovers. Yes, it does take a little longer than nuking it, but it tastes so much better and obviously it's healthier not to eat irradiated food.

My other favorite way to reheat leftovers is on the stove in a cast iron skillet (if it's "stirable"). Cast iron heats it up fairly quickly and imparts such a homey flavor, sometimes the leftovers taste better they did originally!

I'm like Christina; the one time I miss the microwave is when I forgot to defrost something. A time or two of doing that, though, and miraculously I'm a lot less prone to doing that. :) (When I do, I usually choose a pressure cooker meal where I can throw the frozen stuff in and still have a delicious hot meal within 20 minutes.)

Anonymous said...

We don't use the microwave for any reason what so ever. We've found a healthy alternative to the microwave. Check out www.steamwavepro.com. It is a stove top kitchen appliance that uses steam to reheat meals in an average of 4 - 6 minutes. I love it!

fairy-whispers said...

Thank you so much for this! Our microwave just died on us last night, and I was looking for a way to re-heat leftovers without it. After reading this, I may just decided not to replace it!

viagra online said...

i think now a days we can be without microwave because we do not have too much time for cooking on the stove.

dualit toaster said...

Love my toaster. I always use it when reheating and doing some toaster recipes. Thanks for sharing so many tips.

Crazy momma o'5 said...

So glad I found this! Thank you so much for the tips! We've been talking about getting rid of the microwave for a while now. Then, just before the holidays, it went out. Until a few days ago, I hadn't realized how reliant I'd become on our microwave for quick and easy meal fixes. I've been reheating stuff on the stove since then, but it sometimes comes out very different and not quite so tasty. Oh! But one thing I did do that worked rather well is I took leftover pot pie, tossed it into the crockpot and added a bit more liquid. Actually think it tasted better than the first day. Another thing that we've been doing that has helped with cutting food costs is to freeze leftovers. That way we don't get burnt out on the same food but we're still not wasting the food. We just do a cold water bath in the morning and let it defrost and then reheat on the stove.

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