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Help my family eat well during a kitchen remodel

Ok, I'm all for a new kitchen, but being seriously displaced this long has really been tough. I haven't eaten good food at home for more than a week and there's not a quick end in sight.

Here's the deal. All I have to cook with is a microwave. My prep space equals, in total, a 2'x2' space on which sits a cutting board. I have to wash any dishes in the bathroom sink, so almost everything I use right now is plastic and paper. I do have my fridge operational. I do have my grill outside, but given the prep space/washing limitations, I haven't used it too much.

to top it all off, I have three kids under 4 years old, so there are some young bodies to feed.

Any ideas on what I can make that wouldn't require lots of dishes, excessive dirty utensils/bowls, no stove/oven cooking, etc.? I'm so bored of takeout it makes me want to gag when I think about it.

Luckily I've got some good tomatoes and cucumbers coming out of my garden, so I've been making lots of variations of different tomato-cucumber salads (couscous, etc.). I also have a TON of herbs and habanero peppers out back too. So the fresh produce is a plus...

Ideas? Any thoughts? Help? Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

- Adam

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  1. Only a week? Lucky you. I was out of a kitchen for 10 weeks (we were doing it ourselves).

    We used paper plates and plastic utensils (which I HATE) and did lots of salads. Grilled everything within an inch of it's life <grin>. Especially when we did chicken and london broil, then we could add that to salads. Veggies and dip for when we just wanted to nosh. I found that anything we could just nosh on right out of the fridge worked. We also did lots of lunch meat and tuna.

    Good luck and enjoy the new kitchen!

    1 Reply
    1. re: cbauer

      only a week... so far... ugh.

      I made a big thing of tzatziki before the kitchen imploded that is still pretty good. So grilled veggies wiht the tzatziki would be good. Good thought on grilling extra meat I could use in salad tomorrow. I think I'll do that tonight.

    2. Well at least it's not January. With three young kids too? You are brave!!
      Buy pre-made pizza crusts, top them and finish them on the grill? You could grill sandwiches as well.. I'm having dreams of goopy melted cheese and grill marks now. wraps as well, grilled or otherwise. How are you making your couscous, in the microwave?
      Bean salads with lots of red onion, herbs, and lemon juice.
      Asian salads with sliced grilled meats. Do you have a rice cooker? If not now might be a good time.
      Peaches macerated in brown sugar to top ice cream. You could technically make chocolate mousse :).

      This makes me remember this crazy local chinese cooking show from when I was a kid where this HK lady used to cook everything in the microwave. Stir frying in preheated corning ware dishes and the like, lunacy.

      1. A microwave does three things well IME - roast potatoes, risotto and rice. For the potatoes, just cut into largish chunks. I like about 2" on a side. Sprinkle with olive oil. Microwave a couple of minutes, turn potatoes. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Microwave until done - a minute or two depending on the power and the size of your potatoes.

        For risotto I start on the stove to coat the rice, brown some onions or shallots and evaporate off some wine. I think (don't know, never tried) you could do all this in a microwave. After this, it's just a matter of adding stock regularly while the microwave takes care of cooking.

        I also cook rice in the microwave. Put the rice and water into a bowl, microwave about 10 minutes. Fluff and check for doneness. A cup of rice usually takes about 12 minutes in my unit. This is so easy I haven't used my rice cooker in years.

        For the rest, I agree with everyone else, use the grill. We grill all our pizzas. The smokiness and char are great with good crust. Grilled vegetables are great now with so much available in the markets.

        3 Replies
        1. re: cheryl_h

          I've never done rice in the microwave... great idea, thanks. I'll also try potatoes in it too. the kids devour anything potatoes, so that will be good.

          I think tonight's meal will be grilled skirt steak, with microwave potatoes. Thanks for the inspiration!

          1. re: adamclyde

            I actually bought a microwave rice cooked at (gasp) Wal-Mart for $4.88. I don't know what it does or how it does it, but it makes some great rice!

            And....foil is your friend. Individual packets of fish or chicken with herbs and veggies. Throw them on the grill and that's it! Nothing to clean! I particularly like fish with lemon, tomatoes, yellow squash, a little garlic, onions, dill or basil. Use your imagination there is no end!!

            Good luck!

            1. re: geg5150

              great idea. Plus, I can relive my tin foil dinners I used to make in boy scouts. Hopefully I'll make them a little better tasting nowadays... great idea...

        2. Beets come out REALLY well when microwaved. Just peel, put in a dish about half full with water and cover.

          When I was in college I used to cook pasta in my microwave. I'd fill a dish with water and just let it cook until done. It took longer than boiling on the stove but came out about the same.

          Pizzas on the grill are quick and easy.

          I like to cut up potatoes and wrap in foil packets with butter, salt, pepper and a bit of dill. And cook it on the grill. I do the same with Salmon as well.

          You might want to consider picking up a hot plate to expand your repertoire to include grilled cheese, pancakes, and anything you can saute.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chris VR

            A crock pot would be handy and you can plug it in in another room, the same with an electric skillet or griddle. Cooking does not have to happen in the kitchen. I went through a whole kitchen gut and expansion. Fridge in dining room, dishes done in the tub. We got by very well with the grill and the pot and skillet.

            1. re: Candy

              I was going to suggest a crock pot, too. One of my easy and relatively summery crock pot dishes is to slow cook some boneless skinless chicken thighs (I think they have a better texture in the slow cooker than breasts) in a enchilada verde sauce, then shred the chicken and make tacos with corn tortillas and toppings. I also have a recipe for a Thaish pork dish that involves cooking a couple of tenderloins (1 lb. each) with about 1/3 c. teriyaki sauce, a few tablespoons rice vinegar, a couple of cloves of garlic and a sliced red bell pepper, then shredding the pork, adding 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter, and serving over rice.

          2. I'd rely on your grill. Surprisingly, string beans (tossed with garlic-infused oil) are delicious grilled (in a basket), then topped with sea salt. Even at room temp they taste fantastic. Tri tip with grilled bread and grilled sliced potatoes to go with it...did this last night--very good.

            Hot dogs/brats/sausages are great with or without a grilled bun. Grilled brocolli is favorite in our house--kids love it (again tossed in a garlic infused oil first).