Remodeling - what food to freeze? Microwave, slow cooker, grill, and other non-stove cooking suggestions?
We are about to embark on a kitchen remodel and will be without a stove for about 5 weeks. Our fridge and micro will be in operation; we also have a chest freezer, a slow cooker, grill, and one of those butane stoves for hot pot. Would love suggestions for things we can cook and freeze now and heat up in microwave as well as recipes we can easily put int the slow cooker. Since we won't be able to brown meat, I think a lot of slow cooker recipes will be less than successful. And obvious candidates for frozen food such as lasagne seem like they would be difficult to heat up without an oven.
I'm probably overthinking this, but if you have suggestions that would be appreciated.
We just finished our kitchen remodel yesterday (well, phase 1 of it!) and have our kitchen back at last! It's been about six weeks for us. Like DiningDiva, I anticipated a fair amount of cooking with electric skillet, grill, etc. But also like she learned, it was the lack of dish-washing facilities that killed us. Even using paper plates and plastic cups as much as possible, it was enough of a pain to clean what few dishes we dirtied, that we ended up eating out a HUGE percentage of the time.
6 pounds heavier and 6 weeks later, I was never so happy to wash a dish as I was last night. Of course, washing it in my glorious new 36" single bowl farmhouse sink helped, too. ;-) Good luck with the renovation!
Soups and stews generally freeze well, as long as they're non-dairy and don't have chunks of potato (dairy will separate and potato chunks get a bad texture when frozen & thawed). Chili is excellent. If you bake a lasagna before you freeze it, you can reheat it in the microwave just fine. (It's often more convenient to divvy things up into portions before you freeze them.)
There are also lots of things that can be made in a slow cooker that don't require browning. Irish stew, frex -- not browning the meat is a defining characteristic of the dish - or the various versions of put-the-big-piece-of-meat/poultry-in-the-crock-with-some-veg-and-very-little-liquid. Or meatballs-in-gravy. In many recipes, browning is nice for added depth of flavor, but you can still make the dish without it.
Good luck :-). We went into our kitchen remodel a few years ago thinking that we could do something similar. It took nearly 4 months (we went down to the studs so it may be a bigger project than yours) to complete which was longer than anticipated. We had our fridge/freezer, microwave and slow cooker and I even thought we could use our gas grill on the patio.
What we didn't have was a way to clean the dishes and trying to use the bathtub and bathroom sink proved to not be very effective. Cereal, sandwichs and easy hand-held types of lunch and breakfast foods we could manage. The entree stuff, not so much. We ended up eating out for dinner most evenings and by the end of the project we were never so glad to get our kitchen back.
If you've got the cleaning up part figured out, I'd say your microwave is going to be very handy. Think about things that are easy to eat, don't make a lot of mess, that could easily be served on disposables if needed, dishes that aren't fussy or require a great deal of attention or lots of ingredients. Salad kits are great because all the add-ins are usually included and already chopped up. Some of the Trader Joe fresh grab & go entrees in the produce section are microwavable and pretty decent.
It's a hassel having people in your house all day and they sometimes make a mess (i.e. dust, equipment, materials, etc) that you don't want to deal with when you get home from work. We loved our contractor and his subs, we love our new kitchen, but finding the balance between what we could realistically prepare and eat at home ended up being more challenging than we had expected. So we gave up and ate out for many meals, it was just easier and less stressful.
Do you have a vacuum sealer? if so, portion out meats / fish into portion sized pieces, season, seal and freeze. They can be quickly thawed in water and tossed on the grill. For sides, you might think of some rice (or pasta) and veggie mixes to reheat in the microwave. Soups and beans are great candidates... Freeze in ziplocs, if you thaw in hot water, they will heat up much quicker in the microwave.
One of the brilliant things my brother did during his remodel was hook his old dishwasher up on the patio, made handling dirty dishes w/o a sink much easier.