Your questions answered: Defrosting and reheating without a microwave

Joy wrote to me with this question:

I was wondering how you defrost something if you do not have a microwave. Ours just recently kicked the bucket after many years and we aren't in a hurry to get another one just yet. I only have one problem though: reheating leftovers (we eat quiet a few of them) and defrosting leftovers that I have frozen.

I defrost most things in the fridge, including leftovers. That method does involve planning ahead, but like anything, it's something a person adjusts to doing. :)

In a pinch, we thaw things in the sink or in a bowl of cold water. That method is not recommended for things that spoil easily -- like meats -- but it's safe for cheese or other things that can be at room temperature for several hours without harm. (The outside of the food will be warm while the inside finishes thawing.)

We do thaw chicken breast in a bowl of cold water sometimes, and it does not get too warm since on those occasions we are watching it and as soon as it is fully thawed (or even almost fully thawed!) we are using it. :) But, again, it is not recommended and therefore I cannot recommend that you do it. :)

For heating leftovers, we use either a small pan on the stove or the oven. With pans, I've learned from experimenting with which foods need lids, or a little water in the bottom, etc. Usually a lower heat and a slightly longer heating time is better than a hotter and fast heating time. :)

The oven is useful for things that were baked the first time around, like lasagna. I just put the leftover lasagna into a smaller oven dish and it's ready to be warmed back up! Usually 350 degrees, covered (so the food doesn't dry out) for about 30 minutes works for me.

We warm leftover pizza by placing the slices on a pizza pan, putting it in the oven, and then turning the oven on to 375 degrees. In 10 minutes, the pizza is perfect. At least, that's what works with our oven. :) I've also heard that you can warm leftover pizza in a non-stick skillet with a lid.

Does anyone else have any defrosting and reheating tips for Joy? Please share! :)


Our microwave also bit the dust recently. I am very thankful for our toaster oven! We reheat a LOT of leftovers in that - no need to heat up the whole house with the oven and it's quicker!

I also end up heating things on the stove - it's just a bit of a learning process. Defrosting just takes a bit more planning - as Tammy said. I've also done the cold water method (or even warm water - but don't tell anyone *shhh*).

Yes, a microwave is more convenient and faster. Yet those things aren't always the best. I'm sure we'll pick up another microwave at some point - but right now I'm taking the opportunity to teach the kiddos how people used to cook food before-the-microwave. You know, way back in the day......*wink*

It does help cut back on snacking and overeating. When it takes more than 30 seconds to heat something up, you think twice before pulling out the pan or heating up the oven. That's a nice perk!!

*Michigan Momma*
wife to The Pastor & momma of:
~Isaac ~Selah ~Talitha ~Elijah ~lil'bun

Watching what you eat not necessarily cutting back. No fried food etc.

There are healthy snacks. Fresh veggies, pretzels, fruits.

To help w/overeating is to take a small portion of food. Spoonful of veggies, a small portion of meat etc. Also, drinking a glass of water before a meal will help w/not eating as much.

Children, no juice (or if you must, dilute it 50 water/50 juice)...water and organic milk is best. Milk w/meals.

A glass of water with a spoonful of a fiber supplement (Fibersure or Benefiber) in it will help curb hunger. I can get the supplements cheaply at Costco.

Things like chili and soup can be placed in pans and frozen, then just tossed in the oven at 325 or 350 for an hour to 1 1/2 hours; thaws and heats!


What about freezing chili and soups in a muffin tin, and then dumping them into a freezer bag (or sealing them) when they are frozen solid. You could easily just put one to two servings per bowl and heat them up that way. Smaller portions defrost and heat much more quickly than larger ones.


If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? –Milton Berle

for reheating everything.Just have to use a lid and cook it slow to heat it back up on the stove top.I like that over the oven since our house is so hot it get to hot using the oven.

When our microwave goes I don't think I will be getting another one.Heard to many bad things about them.I can live with out it.Just have to learn to take things out the night before and plan ahead and it will save on our elelctric bill too :)And healthy too from what I am learning.

Oh this is great to hear from others who live without a microwave. Ours is on the blink and the more I think/read about it the more I dislike the contraption and I was contemplating taking it down to the garage this week and seeing how we go without it for a few weeks before tossing it completely. Now I'm going to do it!

Sometimes, I use an upside down aluminum canner to thaw meat. A LONG time ago, when we had a TV, I remember seeing an ad for a slab of aluminum for thawing things. The aluminum canner does the same thing. I place the meat on it and in about ten minutes I turn it over and it takes about 20-30 minutes to thaw a pound and a half of frozen hamburger. That's my favorite way. Also, if you use a pressure cooker for cooking, you can put frozen stuff in it to cook.

In Christ,


I have two of those aluminum slabs. Both came from a thrift shop for about a dollar. They work like your canner does. A cast iron fry pan works just as well. The cold water is a good way too. I actually think both these methods are probably safer most of the time than microwave defrosting. My microwave tends to partially cook the edges of things I am defrosting while the rest remains frozen for a while. I can't think that is good. With the water or metal methods, the meat stays cold for a while even after completely thawed. The best plan is probably not to leave defrosting meat unattended, and either cook it or refrigerate it as soon as it has thawed.

For the record, I don't think I will replace my microwave either. I don't use it for much that couldn't be done another way. My dishwasher won't be replaced either. A cupboard would be more useful.

We chose to get rid of our microwave about 6 years ago, because of safety/health concerns. We eat a lot of leftovers, and it's really not that big a deal to heat them up. We rewarm most things in the oven at 350, or sometimes 250 for things we worry about drying out. Some things do get rewarmed on the stove. To be honest, I find it easier to have everything ready at once this way! I remember growing up sticking 4 things in the microwave and the first being lukewarm by the time you were done warming up!

As for defrosting. Planning ahead is best. Things like rolls of sausage or hamburger, I will put in a bowl of hot water (yes I know you're not supposed to) for 1-2 hrs (change water a couple times) and they're done and I can cook them. Most things, I just get down ahead of time.

Once you get used to not having a microwave, it really isn't that big a deal.

Heather (married in Aug '00, mom to 4 children under 7, with baby #5 due in early Jan '09!)


I think I use my microwave most for warming up coffee and tea...not sure if I could live without it for that reason!


For anything that we have baked (pizza casseroles etc...) I put in the toaster oven. It heats it up faster than in the big oven, plus it cools down faster than the big oven.

For leftovers that were cooked stove top, I save those in the actual sauce pan in the fridge. When ready to reheat I just place the whole thing on the burner and heat it up...usually only 10 or so minutes.

For a while I was always putting leftovers in plastic Tupperware and then transferring it to the dish I wanted to heat it in...then I realized I could skip a step (and a dish) and just put the food in the dish I would reheat it in.

I love not having a microwave and knowing my food is safe and whole.

I re-heat pretty much everything (except pizza ~ on the off chance that we have any leftovers, we jusr eat 'em cold :-) in a bit of water in a frying pan with a lid over low heat. The water helps keep food from sticking on the pan & keeps food moist.
Using a frying pan instead of a sauce pan, keeps more of the food closer to the heat, so it warms more quickly.
Foods like lasagna get cut into serving size pieces before being put in the pan, so they can warm up more quickly & evenly than putting a whole big chunk in the pan.

Pizza is great reheated in a dry skillet on low. It makes the crust crisp, and keeps it from getting soggy. For things like hamburgers or meat, I sometimes use a steamer basket. You can put the meat in first, then after your meat is warmed through, place your hamburger buns in the steamer for half a minute and they will be warm and soft. The steam heat also keeps your meat from drying out.

I am a retired home ec. teacher and I just wanted to mention that it is considered safe to thaw meats under cold water. You are advised to let the water run and check the meat frequently so you know when it is thawed and can either use it or refrigerate it. You will often see this method advised at Thanksgiving time when people have not allowed enough time to thaw their turkey in the refrigerator.
I do have a microwave and use it for some reheating but for other things I prefer the texture of the food if it is reheated in the oven. I often do as Tammy suggested--place the food in a smaller baking dish with a little water or milk to keep it moist. Sometimes I make my own divided casserole dish by using a piece of foil as a divider for small amounts of different leftovers.

I lived without a microwave for several years when I lived without electricity. Reheating food was hard for me because, well, if I managed to have leftovers to reheat, because no refrigerator, I had to sturggle with the fact of extra dishes it took to reheat it, or extra gas for heating it in the oven. I found most things, if you put a tiny bit of water in a skillet and covered it, it would heat even casseroles etc. in a short amount of time.
My dad used to explain the way a microwave works (electronics teacher) and basically you get alot more dangerous things for your health in many other things we are around all the time, for me to worry about it for health reasons, so I do have a microwave again and I enjoy it!

We have a microwave. I don't use it much--occasionally I made a snack-size bag of popcorn, so I'm not tempted to overeat. Mainly I use its timer when I'm cooking things on the stove! :) But hubby is doing the Nutrisystem diet (and it's working for him), and most of those meals must be microwaved.

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