BRIANA: We’ll call this one “Defend the Downward Trend”: The microwave is a kitchen staple, but Jessica alerted me to the news that its sales in the U.S. have been flagging for almost a decade. How do you feel about microwaves? Are you attached to your “science oven” or are you more into toaster ovens? Do you think they’re an ugly waste of kitchen real estate or would you be lost without one?
FARIMA: I am a stove/toaster oven girl. I can’t remember the last time I used a microwave — I’ve even switched to making popcorn on the stove (It’s so much tastier than microwaveable popcorn!) If it wasn’t built in, I would definitely get rid of it!
KERI: I’ll be the first to admit that I mostly just use my microwave for heating up water for tea in the morning. If I didn’t have it, I guess I’d just move right along to the stove. Plus, this year, I finally learned to pop popcorn over the stove. (Farima’s right: SO much tastier and healthier, too!) Wait, why do I have a microwave again? Oh wait, I steam vegetables in there, too. It has a purpose!
KELLY SMITH TRIMBLE: I’m with Farima. Ours came with the house and I rarely use it. I say take it out and bring back the appliance garage.
ALYSSA: I feel like the microwave is something you think you don’t need until all of a sudden you need it. It gets a bad rap for all the unhealthy “healthy” frozen meals it nukes, but it’s also a lifesaver if you’re short on time. I’ll use it if I want to steam veggies in a hurry and can’t wait for the water to boil on the stove — not all of us have an Electrolux, Kelly Ripa.
DAVID HAYNES: I’m a dude, so I think you can guess where I line up. I don’t cook so much as I “warm.” I’d be climbing the walls without the microwave. And I’ve seen some design suggestions for squirreling them away in a walk-in pantry or some such. Nope. Mine stays front and center.
NANCY FIRE, Design Director of HGTV HOME: I agree with Farima on all counts…especially when it comes to popcorn. Seriously, I would get rid of our microwave because I hardly use it. I too am a toaster girl at heart!
KAYLA: Microwaves are hideous, but they get the job done quick. Plus, I don’t have the patience to wait for my ancient oven to heat up to warm leftovers. When I get a “real” home, I’ll opt for a toaster oven, but until then I’m happy with my college-style microwave.
LILI: I think our toaster oven gets more use than our real oven. It’s fancy so you can set the temperature and use it like a real stove in a tenth of the time. So I agree, I’m toaster oven all the way. Though I did just heat up leftover Chinese in the microwave last night…
JESSICA: At my old house the roommates and I mostly used it as a glorified breadbox/clock. Now that I’m [further] down South, I only got a microwave as of Christmas. It wasn’t bad and half the time I didn’t even notice…that is, until those days when you come home, you’re tired and there’s nothing you want more than to stuff your face with anything and go to sleep — almost impossible to do if you have to wait 25 minutes to warm up your scrappy burrito leftovers. Also, I don’t think I “get” toaster ovens? They make me really anxious and my first “use” of one was in the game The Sims. Summary: I’d rather have a Margaritaville.
WATSON HAWKINS: I still use a microwave to warm up a coffee mug and refrigerated leftovers, but primarily it sits on the counter because it just…won’t…break, which would give us the excuse we’re looking for to toss it. We did, however, invest less than $125 for the bad boy pictured, a Panasonic that uses infrared light to cook food 40% faster than conventional coils — plus it heats up instantly, which means super-fast cinnamon toast.
It’s been a godsend for our 3-year-old frozen-chicken-nugget connoisseur and it puts a nice crisp on the edges of day-old pizza that a microwave could only dream of doing. One more plus: it has a small countertop footprint — crucial for our tight kitchen — but it’s roomy inside if we’re looking to bake.
LIZ: I love my toaster oven very, very much. Who wants to eat microwaved pizza? Not this gal. However…I’ll always have a microwave because leftover chili just isn’t the same when you have to spend 20 minutes heating it on the stove. My dad actually uses his microwave to speed the cooking time of very delicious things, like macaroni and cheese and barbecued chicken. The key is, only partially cook said item, then finish it in the oven or on the grill. Personally, I’m probably not going to break out any microwave cookbooks, so I wish there was an option for a super-tiny (not to mention more attractive), plate-sized version.
KAYLA: I agree. The whole point of leftovers is enjoy a night off from cooking/waiting for something to cook. Microwave serves the “I want food NOW” purpose.
MARIANNE: I “bake” sweet potatoes in the microwave at least two nights a week. After working all day I just can’t wait for the hour it takes to bake them in the oven.
NANCY FIRE, Design Director of HGTV HOME: Not an everyday fan of the microwave, [but I] found this pizza maker combo appliance that could make the microwave a bit more interesting, especially for those late night snacks.
We’ve gotten heated about microwaves, now tell us what YOU think: