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May 20, 2005 08:48 PM

Meals during kitchen remodeling

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Well, it starts a week from tomorrow and will last a minimum of two weeks. I have no desire to eat every meal out. The kitchen will be stripped to the bare walls---no cabinets, no countertops, no stove/oven, no appliances---not even the kitchen sink! I will have a freezer (in the basement) and a microwave (in the dining room)---no other appliances will be available (I MIGHT be able to find a spot to plug in the coffee maker---this is high on my list of priorities!).
What I want to do is spend next week making meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) that I can freeze in individual servings, then microwave and serve. I'll need to keep clean-up to the absolute minimum---I'll be washing dishes UPSTAIRS in the BATHTUB!!!
Anybody here have any recipes for delicious, healthful meals that freeze and microwave well? This will be for two adults who like spicy foods. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Anne, Your concept of a 2 week remodel is dilusional. Regardless of your best intentions, you are looking at two months minimum. (6 months being the norm.) I suggest you rent a copy of "Easy Rider" and watch the commune planting scene to complete your fantasy. Given that, get out your crock pot and your electric skillet along with clamp lamps and an A.M. radio. (If you don't have a grill or a Weber kettle, buy one.) Combine your best creativity using a crock pot, electric skillet and BBQ and invite a well respected marriage counselor to dinner. In the end it's worth it-- especially if this is just your first marriage. Call it Tough Love.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Leper

      I burst out laughing when I saw the "two week" estimate. We are starting soon and expect it to take at least 3 months. Perhaps she is exaggerating the amount of work that will be done? I imagine much cosmetic (rather than true remodeling) work-switching out appliances and countertops-can be done in a shorter period of time.

      1. re: kiliki

        Well, I'm hoping you're all wrong! :) Our "contractor" is my husband. He and a neighbor/electrician spent one weekend re-wiring the kitchen, so THAT'S done (yea! I can use BOTH the coffee maker AND the microwave without tripping a breaker!). They also added new lighting over where the new cabinets are going in.
        DH and a friend will be taking out the old cabinets this weekend. We'll paint the 2 walls that will need it (the other 2 walls will be wallpapered---AFTER the new cabinets and appliances are in place). The (electric) stove will be moved out into the garage until the new cabinets are in. The NEW range (sorry---I got a ceramic cooktop---I'll remember to be gentle!) will be delivered June 17, as will the refrigerator. All the new cabinets are IN at the lumberyard in the next town and will be delivered on Tuesday (a week from tomorrow). Another friend, a carpenter who has done quite a bit of work in our house, will be installing the cabinets, with the help of my husband. He's the one who told us this should only take 3-4 days.
        The only "problem" is that the place that makes the laminate countertop won't come out to measure for it until all the cabinets are in. Then it will be about a week (again, their estimate) before it is delivered. HOWEVER, the area where the kitchen sink is is remaining basically the same---new cabinets in the same sizes as the originals. SO, DH and friend said they will put the "old" countertop on the new cabinets and hook the old sink back up, so I can have use of it while we're waiting for the new countertop. The old range can also be moved back in at this point.
        We'll do the wallpapering and the flooring (we're looking at a "floating" cork flooring---DH put a similiar flooring in one of our other rooms and it took less than a day) after the cabinets/countertop/appliances are in.

        Thanks for your cooking suggestions. Sure wish I did have a Trader Joe's or similiar nearby, but I live in a small town with a Kroger and a Save-a-Lot. The Indian market in "the big city" (20 miles away) may be my best bet for already-prepared frozen meals. I am planning on making several meals this week to freeze in individual portions. I went grocery shopping today and got some classic "grilling" food---ground meat and hot dogs! Not our usual fare, but it'll be better than the fast-food options here in town. Even the locally-owned places seem to favor mostly bland, fried food.
        Well, I better get busy making theose meals to freeze. Thanks to your comments, I think I'll make twice as much as I planned!
        Thanks for the ideas---keep 'em coming. And I'll keep you posted on the progress of the remodel!

        1. re: Anne

          Do you have an electric skillet? When I first started living on my own, i didn't even have a stove--just the electric skillet. I made stir fries, used it as a steamer for frozen entrees, fresh veggies, as a casserole, etc.
          And as far as Dear Hubby being your "contractor"--don't get me wrong--I'm sure we both love and adore our husbands.................but yes, we too embarked on a "two week, $7,000-8,000" remodel. HIS estimate. It took SIX weeks and $25,000. And yes, DH was the contractor. But our marriage survived--some people might even say it got stronger--and I will go with that.
          Good luck and keep us posted. You are right about the flooring--my husband installed 850 sq. ft. by himself and it took about 12 hours to do it.

          1. re: MKatrinaToo

            No, I don't have an electric skillet. There really wouldn't be any place to use it during the remodel, anyway. Space is going to be REALLY tight---there really won't be anything I could use as a "countertop"---maybe a lamp table in the living room (which is jammed with boxes of the stuff that used to be in the kitchen cabinets), but I'd really rather not risk spattering oil on the sofa! Besides, I'd rather not have to bring that or a crock pot up the carpeted stairs to wash it it the bathtub.
            I started making some meals today that I will freeze in individual portions. The Spicy Smoked Eggplant from "Indian Home Cooking" is delicious, and I found out last time I made it that it freezes quite well. I'll also cook up and freeze some Basmati rice to go with it. I also froze some cooked pasta and will make a tomato-based sauce. May make a sausage casserole (egg brunch dish), too as it'll be good for any meal. I just got some of those Glad "freezer and microwave safe" plastic containers that should work from freezer to microwave to (outdoor)table. I've also bought some paper plates and bowls and plastic cups. I don't usually buy/use these, but I figure it won't kill us to use them for the (hopefully) short period of time! As per another's suggestion, though, I'll check into those Bacardi mixers!!!!

    2. Of coursew you'll have to have Microwave-safe ware to heat in (and wash) but do get a lot of disposables (why go crazy washing what you don't need to? The remodeling guys are going to bless the world with 20 times more trash than you'll create using throwaways)

      Chili's good - a one-dish meal. Likewise do not despise ramen (throw out their flavor packet and add yr own sesame oil and soy sauce or whatever). Breakfast's a no-brainer ("I finally have an excuse to eat a donut!") plus single-serve cans of juice. Plan on grocery daily but TAKE A LIST - salad bar (some have soups and the like), wine/cheese/bread/antipasto-stuff, deli-made sandwiches. Is there a Great Harvest Bakery or other upscale bread shop near you? Bread, butter, cheese and beer go nicely together (a stick of real butter won't get bad sitting 24hrs on the table).

      1. Anne, Leper is absolutely right--altho you use the qualifier "a minimum", I guarantee you that you should multiply any time estimate by two and any cost estimate by four. And if you don't believe me, after you've watched the film recommended by Leper, for further enlightenment, watch "The Money Pit" w/ Tom Hanks; watch it NOW while you still have a sense of humor. And might I suggest a dish pan for washing the dishes in the bath tub? Cook now and freeze serving size meals in the freezer in disposable, microwaveable containers? Now would be a good time to try those expensive, microwaveable shelf stable meals you wouldn't ordinarily buy.

        1. We had our kitchen remodeled last summer. Who told you that it would take 2 weeks? That's what we were told by our contractor. It took 3 months! Why...because there were too many subcontractors. And painters were not in the picture. Painting came 6 months later.

          Find a good Chinese take-out place. Also know where there's a good deli for things like cole slaw and other salads. Most supermarkets now have salad bars and prepared hot food.

          Good Luck!

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChiliDude

            P.S. I hope that you planned on having a professional 6-burner gas stove installed. That's what I would've got if it was my project. My wife headed this project and we have one of those flat ceramic electric cooktops. Now all cooking vessels have to be gently placed on the cooktop. Try that with cast iron skillets and a Dutch oven.

          2. I hate to say I'm with the group as far as pessimism about the two-week remodel. Keep your blender on-hand and stock up on frozen Bacardi mixers.

            If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, some of the entrees in their deli section might appeal to you. I like the meat lasagna. And I like a couple of their salads. They also sell pre-cooked chicken and shrimp that you can add to a salad. I don't care for their packaged frozen stuff too much, though.

            As you like spicy foods, go to an Indian market and stock up on those boxes of curries that have a pouch inside. These microwave well and if you can find room for or buy a little rice cooker, that's a meal. I have a two-person rice cooker that cost about $10.

            Cook any meats or fish you already have in the freezer (if you can't grill them later) into stews or soups for later.