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Dec 15, 2009 04:26 AM

Food strategy during Kitchen Remodel?

For the next four weeks we will be without a stove and a sink... but will put old refigerator and a microwave in the family room. And a charcoal grill on the deck (though it's winter in Ct)

Aside from eating out and takeout which we will do, what are some dishes we can prepare at home with minimum prep and cleanup (especially of dishes)?????

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    1. We had our kitchen in various stages of being torn apart for nearly a year. Wouldn't want to go thru that again! But it's do-able. And when you have your working kitchen again it will all seem worth it. It's two years since mine has been done and I am still in love with my contractor for making it a reality and my husband for paying for it and giving me complete reign and support. Some days I walk into my kitchen and am still blown away that it's mine -- in the sense that I designed it to my purposes and got what I envisioned. I chanced to see my contractor the other day and we gave each other big hugs and I try to tell my husband every couple months how thrilled I still am.

      Don't let that whole year thing intimate you, tho -- I had my kitchen proper, a baking area and a pantry and a new relocated laundry room all going at the same time. *With* walls moved. And then a shower in a completely different area of the house collapsed and needed to be rebuilt at the same time. You won't have to deal with all that. ;>

      Glad you've got a fridge and microwave. An extra sink of decent size somewhere is also very important. You can get those 5 gal bottled water thingies with spouts for drinking but you'll still need to wash up. Beyond that, a slowcooker will enable you to do lots of things like stews and chilis. If you've got an electric skillet you can do stir fries and curries. And this is exactly the time of year to go looking for one of those top-opening roasters that are probably under $70. I made mac & cheese and even bread in the one I got and when the remodel was over I hung onto it because in the summer when I'm cooking outside I can plug it in out there and do baked beans and baked potatoes without having to run inside or give up precious space on the grill. My contractor always made me a small counter space near electricity to use these things. It was just plywood with good support but it was a lifesaver. And even if you don't start out buying or borrowing these things, in the end some variety in your diet will come to mean a lot.

      While you're buying a few small appliances, get yourself the biggest fan with a HEPA filter you can find. Run it while all the dust is flying and your contractor can isolate the construction area with plastic "doorways" so the filter can keep the construction crud out of the rest of your life as much as possible. Me? I had 3 of them -- one for the construction area and one on either end of our living areas. Also, make up your mind at the very beginning that there will be chaos and that you can surrender to it for however long. It's inevitable so there's little point in having anything but *minimizing* it as any kind of goal.

      Find a good local spot where you can get a great breakfast on the weekends. You'll get sick and tired of take out but sometimes starting the morning with a satisfying meal will feel very satisfying. We discovered that a local Intl House of Pancakes made very fine breakfasts. And don't forget veggies! Eat enough veggies. They're easy to overlook when you just want fast and filling and all your "menus" (there won't *be* any such thing for a while!) get pared down. There was one night when I went out all alone for an expensive meal and I think the lovingly prepared vegetables came as such a shock after my deprivation that I literally think they saved my soul for the final push to get working appliances in. There are a lot of vitamins (the B vitamins I think) that actually help stabilize in veggies and they'll help soothe frayed emotions.

      As for plates, everything decent went into storage. Originally I set up shelves in my family room with the kitchen contents but I found I couldn't find anything anyway. So the decent stuff that was getting all mucked up with construction gaack anyway went into storage and I relied on one plastic bin with an airtight lid of eating and cooking stuff (and one with the small appliances). It was cheap plastic Target stuff that I washed out every day by hand (there's that sink or tubs or whatever that you're absolutely going to need comes in) because I wasn't willing to use disposables that are so NOT green. When I had my new dishwasher and could start washing my stuff in storage and returning to use that, I gave all that Target stuff to the local DARE box.

      Good luck with it! My best advice is that stuff about surrendering to the chaos before you even begin. Every degree to which you rise above it will be a triumph and a wonderful new working space awaits you! Don't forget to tell whoever that you want *everything* in pull-out drawers -- even if you have doors put on the outside of them. And get comfy and settle in to There is a LOT of fantastic advice and resources there.

      1. The lack of a sink is going to be your biggest frustration (at least, it was mine when we redid the kitchen).

        I like the crockpot idea... I'd recommend using those crockpot bags to cook in, just to make cleanup easier. Foil packets on the grill (meat+veggies+spices) are easy. If your grill has a side burner, you can easily boil pasta in a pot or saute something in a pan. But, again, washing the pots and pans may be a pain. You can also use the grill as an oven - just line your pans with foil or parchment first so you don't have to wash them.

        Resign yourself to the fact that you will probably end up eating out quite a bit. On the upside, if you plan it right, you can come away with enough leftovers for another meal, just heated up in the microwave.

        Good luck! Our kitchen project was one of the biggest pains to endure, but it was absolutely worth it.