One of the things I love most in life is food. And not just something you slap on a plate but, really delicious, intricate meals. I find cooking to be therapeutic and has always been a way for me to care for the people I love.
I have never had a gourmet kitchen. Our first house had the tiniest, most inefficient kitchen. But even with these limitations, I taught myself to make many dishes that are still in our dinner rotation even years later. Our second and current home had a very usable kitchen, but was original to the 1984 home. So it was ugly. Very, very ugly.
One day in early 2020, we decided to embark on a full home renovation that included finally having my dream kitchen! I was beyond thrilled dreaming and planning for how I would change the layout and what finishes I wanted. But when it sank in that I would have many (many) months without my kitchen, I began to panic. I knew I needed to figure out a way to be able to cook for myself and my family with the absolute bare bones basics. So I set out to make my life as comfortable as possible while we endured life without an oven.
Buy all the small appliances
I started by taking an inventory of what I needed for a normal day of cooking. Obviously, a coffee pot was the number one! But I also like smoothies, so my Ninja blender was critical to keep handy. My toaster oven was next. I figured I could bake dinners in this tiny oven. My crockpot and instant pot were great for one pot meals. The microwave was utilized more often (hello microwave baked potato!). I also bought a hot plate to sauté with. And if it’s nice outside, don’t forget about the grill!
If you need any others, feel free to include those in your kitchen set up.
Set up a kitchen prep area
I used a few folding tables to set up a place to have a surface for meal prep. Having my knives, cutting boards, a variety of pyrex, a few baking dishes, and a small sauce pan handy was really all I needed. I could dice and chop, assemble, and bake what I needed for the meals.
Keep the essentials, and pack everything else
Having less available to use was hard at first, but became so helpful. I learned not to use so many dishes in preparation. I mixed things in one bowl. I baked meals on one baking sheet. I also made smaller portions for meals.
Set up a dishwashing station
I used my bathroom tub to wash dishes. I also used a large clear bin to gather all the dishes, bring them in to wash, dry and put away. It was so important to keep up with the dish washing. Because we had limited dishes, I needed to make sure I had clean utensils!
Reinvent your meal planning
I definitely ate more cold meals. I also became more efficient with what I planned for meals. I would buy a rotisserie chicken and use it in so many ways. The first night was rotisserie chicken with some easy rice and veggie sides. Then I would use the leftovers for making a salad, or shred and make Waldorf chicken salad. It was so handy to have cooked chicken on hand!
Be ok with take out
I just couldn’t survive without some local take out. Fortunately, we had a great variety of food available for carry out. We also discovered some great new restaurants! We also felt good about being able to support local restaurants given all of the difficulties they were experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 regulations.
What did I learn? That it’s ok to survive, because I will thrive when my kitchen is complete. Some temporary discomfort was ok and when I was feeling frustrated, I would look at construction progress and inspiration pics. And I am so glad we did it!