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Surviving a kitchen remodel

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Any tips on what to leave unpacked and how to get through this with a minimum cost? We will have a grill and microwave.

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  1. How many people will you be cooking for? You might want to look into getting a cheap electric burner.

    What to leave unpacked:

    one place setting per person, plus a couple of extras
    bowls, both for mixing and for eating stuff like soup, cereal, ice cream
    One large all-purpose skillet
    One pot large enough to cook pasta in
    One smaller sauce pan with lid
    One paring knife
    One large knife
    One wooden (pot stirring) spoon
    Cheap/Sturdy glasses
    pot holders
    measuring cups and spoons
    if you're a coffee drinker, something to make coffee
    oil, vinegar, basic spices and condiments

    Beyond that, it really depends on what you like to cook and eat. I'd have a small box with my most used tools (vegetable peeler, microplane, tongs) -- the things you reach for most often. If you eat a lot of rice, a rice cooker might be helpful.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I survived mine a few years back. I was weary by the end of it.

      I never thought to get a cheap electric burner, good idea from Ruth.

      I moved my fridge/freezer into the dining room, (not pretty, but it saved my sanity). I put
      paper plates and bread on top of my fridge.

      I moved my dining table up against a wall. On it, against the wall, I placed my microwave, a toaster oven and coffee pot. I cooked lots of meals ahead and froze them.

      The tough thing for me was washing dishes and flatware, my bathroom sink is tiny.

      Good luck, take deep breathes and you will love everything when it's done.

      1. re: mcel215

        I can't believe I forget the toaster oven!

        I went two years without a kitchen while renovating my house. My sister used her laundry room (which has a much bigger sink than a bathroom) during her kitchen remodel.

      2. re: Ruth Lafler

        The induction hot plates are relatively cheap too, at least compared to the whole stove and they would save you time. A hot plate like that is good to have at a buffet after your kitchen is done, because you don't need to worry about anyone burning themselves on it.

        1. re: Bryn

          If you have compatible cookware (plain or enameled cast iron, some brands of stainless), I definitely second the recommendation for a single induction burner. Much, much better quality and more power than a cheap coil burner. You will probably really want a burner sometimes for simple things like eggs or simmering a sauce...especially if it rains and you can't grill.

      3. Menus from all the nearby take out places!

        1. We had the grill, micro too but also bought a electric pot to boil pasta and such.

          Hated every minute of it :o) but it was worth it in the end.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Eric in NJ

            We survived 4 months with fridge, microwave, grill (with a side burner) and a toaster oven. I actually used the toaster oven a lot. I bought a set of those wire shelves from Target. The micro and toaster lived on one shelf, plates, glasses, etc. on another, food stuffs on the others. We didn't have a table (it was in storage), so used TV trays. We had a bar sink/counter/cabinets in the sunroom, which we used for prep and storage of cookware, etc. That was a lifesaver!

          2. Hi Nosey -

            I JUST got done with ours. 3 months. We had the fridge moved to another part of the house, a microwave, a toaster, a panini grill, a waffle iron, and a crock pot. If I could do it over, I would have gotten a flat electric griddle as well.

            If you still can, go get some (Id suggest the above) cheap electric appliances.

            Make some big batches of food you like that freezes well.
            I did lasagna, a few Indian stews, chili, tinga, pulled pork, smoked chicken halves, grilled chicken breasts and thighs.

            I'd also go get an ultra cheap set of dishes, plastic glasses, and silverware.

            I've read in many places (and experienced 1st hand) that although you might plan to cook every night while your kitchen is in shambles, don't be surprised if it doesn't really work out that way. It's REALLY a pain in the butt to cook on some table in a corner of the house. I wold HIGHLY suggest to look on restaurant.com for deals in your area, and collect take out menus, and pay attention to restaurant daily specials. If you have any family or close friends, let them know about your remodel, many of our friends offered meals since they've done their kitchens as well. I know that if any of my neighbors or family told me they were gonna do their kitchen, I'd invite them over for dinner a few times at least. BTW, here's a PPT of our progression - it's 94 meg, so it may take a few minutes to load, if you care to see ours.

            2 Replies
            1. re: gordeaux

              Thanks for the wonderful presentation. The kitchen looks wonderful. Our house is about the same age as yours. The kitchen was re-done in the '80's. We are at 12x12 now, but are taking out 2 partial walls and will have kitchen, dining room and sunroom as one. We are crossing our fingers about the foundation.

              The fridge will be in the LR. An old chest will be our cabinet. I see lots of take our in our future.

              Thanks everyone for the good ideas and wishes.

              1. re: gordeaux

                Like the ritz compared to me. I made do with a a few pots and pans, coffee maker and it all fit it a small tupperware tub. Have some fun and be creative. Mac and cheese on the grill, grilled pork, potatoes and grilled romaine with fresh veggies all on the grill. Come on way way too many appliances for me. A grill and micro just for the coffee and I was good to go.

                We had fun reinventing how to make meals.

              2. You can cook so much on an outdoor grill. Buy some cheap disposable aluminum pans- great for cooking vegetables.

                1. If you have one, or can borrow or buy one cheaply at a garage sale or ebay, an electric fry pan can be used for many things like sautes and stirs frys.

                  1. Tell you what helped me a lot: I got one of those cheap open-the-top type roasters that Target and Costco sell around Thanksgiving. They may not be quite as available right now but when it comes to being able to actually roast things for under $50 it would be worth looking for.

                    I was able to make casseroles and even bread with it. And when my kitchen was done, I kept it for cooking outside in the summer.

                    If it's the wrong time of year for a roaster, it's the *right* time for the BBQ! You'll be able to do a lot outside on that.

                    An electric water kettle will also be most helpful.

                    Got a laundry area with a sink? Or a wet bar? They will also be your best friends.

                    The IHOP near us makes an excellent affordable breakfast.

                    1. I loved having the fridge in the living room; it was so easy to get another beer while watching the ball game!

                      We lived on take-out Indian food, sandwiches from the White Hen, and prepared entrees from Whole Foods, complimented by wine, cheese, fruit, and good bread.

                      The electric kettle was a Godsend, so much easier to make coffee in the plunger pot. as well as making a quick Cup Noodle or side of couscous. I also got an electric frying pan, for maybe 20 dollars at Target. You make pancakes or chicken breasts in it, but it's also deep enough to cook something like stew or curry.

                      1. Make friends with your neighbors.

                        1. I'm going to embark on one in a month or so. But I lived through an extremely long one several years ago.

                          Sorry, but I'm going to be a lazy American here. I didn't cook anything I couldn't make in the microwave. I had a lot of cold cereal, raw vegetables, frozen entrees, and take-out. I just added the extra expense into the cost of the redo.

                          This next time, though, I do plan on working in stages and getting the appliances delivered on the same day. Really, the only major disruption is countertops. The rest, you can keep everything in place if you're doing it yourself.

                          Of course, I realize that's a luxury I have because I know how to do it.

                          Don't stress yourself out. It's OK to do the easy stuff for a couple of weeks if necessary. You aren't a failure to resort to raw and convenience foods for a short time.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: dmd_kc

                            I wish we could keep everything in place. But, they are taking kitchen, dining room and sunroom down to the studs. Floor is coming up, too.

                            1. re: nosey

                              It's SUCH a pain to be doing it myself in some ways, but so nice because I get to control the schedule.

                              The biggest tip, which I forgot: Embrace disposable dishes and flatware for a couple-three weeks. Normally, they are absolute anathema to me -- but it only took a few meals of trying to wash up in the bathtub before I said, "to heck with this" and gave in to how the other half lives.

                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                A tip - buy these things AFTER a holiday. We were eating our meals on x mas party paper plates with green and red plastic "silverware" and party cups. Usually stores like target clearance these things out 90% off a few days after the holiday is over.We got STACKS and didn't care about tossing them. Also, they might have sturdier dishwasher safe plastic disposable plates and such which we also had.

                          2. I lived with a micro and grill. Just fine. Coffee maker, mugs, paper plates, napkins, I kept general seasonings, s/p, all purpose, sugar, cream bbq, mustard, ketchup, mayo, electric burner why. Same thing in the micro or grill. A couple of knifes, bowls, pots and pans, Not much, just a small tupperware. Think of camping. You can make anything if any pot or pan if you can get past the rules and regulations. Hell I bake cornbread, fry eggs, makes steaks, fried eggs and boil water all in one pan. Oil and vinegar and just basic bottled dressings. Don't get fancy, go simple. We did fine and had fun actually. Made me think and really become creative which was pretty cool. Washing was outside in a tub.

                            It made me think and cook naturally without all the fancy ingredients. Back to basics with limited ingredients and just good grilled and simple dishes. 2 months and we ate great.

                            I have to admit ice cube trays for my small fridge or cooler, glasses (plastic disposable), plastic forks and knives and paper plates, not much else, coffee essential. A couple of dish towels. You will be amazed how good you can actually do when you have too.

                            1. We were in the midst of our remodel this time last year. It's tough to do a lot of cooking since you don't have an exhaust. My husband got one of those burner set ups that you see at buffet bars in hotels, and he would use it out on the back porch. We relied on the microwave a lot, and explored the frozen food sections of Costco and Trader Joes, and found some interesting foods. We have an outdoor grill, too, but much of the renovation took place in the winter. However, when it got warmer, my DH made spareribs on the smoker and we made permanent good friends with our carpenters! Also, the other problem is wash-up, which also makes too much active cooking difficult. Obviously, we used paper plates and cups, and found that a Keurig coffee maker was the ideal solution to not having to wash out a coffee pot. You need the fridge in a convenient place. Our old one lived in the dining room and we moved it out to the garage as a spare when the work was completed. You're lucky the weather is warming up -- it makes things that much easier when you can cook outdoors.

                              1. we used a deep electric skillet, an electric roaster, microwave and convection toaster oven. I became very creative and made complete meals which we ate on paper plates and disposable bowls. What we did have to wash we kept two tupperware buckets to wash and rinse the pots. I became a better cook during that period and when the new kitchen was done it unleashed the foodie in me

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: folprivate

                                  I got creative too, you had way more than me, but FL, so we did have a grill propane year round which helped and I did forget the toaster just a 2 slice but it actually broke honestly after one week so the grill was it., so just that and the micro. You learn to do a lot of creative cooking that is for sure.

                                2. I did a lot of cooking and freezing in advance and then microwaved meals. I made individual portions of meats/proteins and veggies and carbs. Then I could mix and match to suit my mood. I only used the microwave. I have to say that after 2 months, I had enough of microwaved food and started eating out. I didn't have a barbecue at that time (was part of the reno) or any crockpots.

                                  1. Hire a personal chef now for a bunch of meals, get a nice, big new toaster oven and go to a take-and-bake, cook like mad now and store stuff for later, or accept that you're going to eat Lean Cuisine meals, take out and fast food for the duration of your remodel and stock up. We were only completely without kitchen for a week the first time, and then without a sink/dishwasher while we worked on the counters the second, but we did a pretty simple DIY remodel.

                                    I never, ever want to see another fn Lean Cuisine dinner.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Coconuts

                                      With a grill and a micro and toaster I lived a few months. NO Lean Cuisine. I cooked every night from scratch. It was fun to actually cook without all the fancy appliances and gadgets. A couple of knives and spoons and basic cooking and you would be surprised how creative we got. We ate just as good and it was fun and challenging.

                                    2. Trader Joes! TJs, TJs, TJs. I could not have survived without them. Almost everything you can buy there can be cooked in the microwave or on the grill. And then there's takeout, of course. I gained 10 lbs from the remodel from all of the processed food and takeout! Hang in there - but don't make it harder on yourself than it has to be. Just try to keep everyone fed and hope that the remodel is over as quickly as possible.