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10 more days w/o counter & water - help!

As our kitchen renovation nears completion (most of it is now back in place, as opposed to the living and dining rooms), I am getting antsy - and the water has only been turned off since last Thursday!

I have NO countertops - other than a big cutting board I put on a cabinet for lunch prep. I have NO running water, including in the dishwasher: With current temperatures, I refuse to 1) wash dishes in the bathrooms and 2) wash dishes with the garden hose. So, I am a contributing member of the throw away society fro two weeks.

So it's either keep it simple and disposable, or order out. We both like to eat well (read: lowfat) and I'm a vegetarian (read: eggplant parm from the takeout joint isn't lowfat); so we'd like to avoid ordering out EVERY night.

Thinking with throw-out aluminum baking dishes, I could do a decent amount of casserole type foods. But all I can think of are red-sauce italian dishes (lasagna, manicotti, etc.), which so happens to be the easiest (almost only) takeout around us.

So I turn to you for help: Any other super-easy suggestions, with minimal use of actual pots,, pans, counter space and cutlery?

ETA: I do have every other kitchen staple, such as the stove, microwave, etc.

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  1. Having a hard time getting my head around the issue, but I guess it's that you don't really want to wash the prep utensils and pots?

    I'd get a supply of those Ziploc steamer bags for cooking in the microwave. You can also heat up foods on paper plates for a brief amount of time. And I cook potatoes and yams wrapped in a paper towel all the time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mlgb

      Sorry, I'll clarify: Problem is we have no running water or countertops in the kitchen. Since my only cleaning options are doing them in the bathtub or going outside in 12-degree weather, I would be forever indebted for "creative" solutions where I can still feel we're eating somewhat well with minimal "dirt" (so as not to clog the bathroom sinks). Ideally one-dish, minimal mess *and minimal prep) meals. Anything I can think of is limited to Italian-type dishes, and I know there has to be more out there.

    2. I'm trying to think up the things I make when we go camping, since that's also a minimal water but good food necessary, kind of experience. Unfortunately, I'm not vege, so I keep thinking of meat foods however these come to mind: baked potatoes in foil, kebabs (grilled). I'm assuming you have a crockpot or rice cooker, how about chilli? Or any kind of one pot meal, steam in the microwave vegetables and baked potatoes and you have a decent meal. i would google some camping recipes, perhaps that would offer a greater source of meatless easy to make, low fuss recipes.

      1. Sandwiches. Vegetables chopped and put in a pita pocket. Broiled cheese toast, maybe on the side of a vegetable soup. Without water it makes it really hard. I feel your pain.

        4 Replies
        1. re: danhole

          It sounds like they actually have water, just don't feel like doing washing up in the bathroom.

          I think it's just a matter of eating the normal stuff (whatever that is), using microwave and oven for the cooking, and being more creative about what you're cooking in. EG you can broil on top of aluminum foil, use those aluminum roasters in the oven for lots of things you'd normally cook on the stovetop, microwave in a bag or on a plate.

          In the morning I'd be doing cold cereals, yogurt, and fruit. Maybe soycheese and bagels. You can cook most of the soy product type fake meat in the microwave (Gardenburgers hotdogs etc).

          1. re: mlgb

            Yes, I caught on to that, but it is a pain to be dragging water back and forth. And no counter space just makes it worse.

            1. re: danhole

              When my kitchen was torn up, I just used those giant things of bottled water with the spigot to avoid hauling pots of water from the bathroom. I missed the cooktop more than the water. And you could move a little table into the kitchen for more countertop space (assuming there's room for it, otherwise put another piece of plywood or something over the cabinet.

              I think OP just needs some love.

              1. re: mlgb

                I had a rolling table, the kind like you see in hospitals, and that is how I got counter space when my kitchen was getting re-done. Good idea about the water.

        2. I had another thought - if you use the oven for broiling or re-heating something, put a piece of foil on the pan so that you don't have to wash the pan afterwards. The Non stick foil works great. Also think about those oven bags.

          Good luck!

          1. Hmm... can you get those boil-in-the-bag Indian foods near you? The big brand name is Tasty Bites but there are others. I use those camping because of the no dishes factor. They have a kind a Trader Joe's but lots of regular groceries carry them as well.

            Sometimes they have Thai food this way as well.

            I have served them with coucous because that is simple as well. You could steam the couscous in a disposable dish. Or I think boil-in-a-bag rice exists as well, though I could never imagine why before now.

            In either case your pots would only ever touch water!

            1. Thanks you all for the thoughts. I have seen those Indian meals in the store before; could be worth a try. (And boil in a bag rice was my significant other's staple before I brought real rice into his life ... we still have a few boxes because he would never let me toss them)

              I, too, keep trying to think of camping cooking strategies, and keep getting stuck. When I was growing up, it was spam and baked beans.

              Had I thought more effectively ahead of time, I would have pre-frozen some dishes. But I thought eating take out would be a "fun break" - it was; for a long weekend.

              Seriously, thank you all. I spent my entire day obsessing, and not progressing, over "what can I make" thoughts.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alexajord

                If you're worried about prep waste, just put a plastic bag in the sink and cut the prep into that. I'd probably just cheat and buy frozen vegetables. You can cook the ones that come in a box straight in the box (with the wrapper off of course).

                Good luck with the remodel! Can't even imagine 12 degree weather, either.

              2. Quesadillas. Grate some cheese onto a tortilla, add whatever toppings you like -- very thinly sliced mushrooms, spinach, cilantro, sliced green onions, sliced tomatoes, etc. Stick it in the toaster oven. When the cheese is melted you can grab it carefully and quickly slide it onto a paper towel. All you've used is the grater and a knife.