It's been almost 4 years since I've had a microwave. I used to use one daily when I was living in North America. My life in Asia doesn't include a microwave. How does it affect my kitchen? Not much, in all honesty, and here's why it hasn't affected how I cook all that much.
If you think about it, what do you use your microwave for? I used it mainly to heat water in the morning for my tea and to heat up cooked dishes. From time to time, I also used a microwave to defrost frozen meat. Here's what I use instead:
1. Hot Water Dispenser
This appliance is very common in Asia, and you'll find it anywhere because Asian enjoy drinking a lot more tea than coffee. This basically dispenses hot water, allowing you to brew tea, coffee, or anything else that needs hot water.
I've never been a fan of microwave defrosting, which is why it doesn't bother me not to have one for this task. Instead I use a hot water bath in the sink. Works pretty well and I've had no issues defrosting meat quickly.
3. Heating Up Cooked Dishes
This is one of the big problems of not having a microwave. However, I don't eat TV dinners, so that part doesn't bother me much. It actually cuts down on a whole bunch of processed foods that aren't that healthy. I just heat up the food in a pan. This allows me to actually change the taste slightly, by adding spices and other ingredients while it heats up.
It does bother me that there aren't any microwaves at work, so taking leftovers to work is a problem. This is a slight problem, but not insurmountable, as you can make a lunch that specifically doesn't need to be heated up, like a big salad of some sort.
[images via Lunch In A Box, Grub Street]