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Surviving a kitchen renovation (without gaining a hundred lbs and/or losing your mind)

any tricks or tips? I think we'll have a fridge and a micro for most of the project which should take at least 8 weeks. thanks in advance!

also not sure this is the right board for this.

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  1. Be thoughtful, realize that it'll be 8 weeks, and think about the outcome and how beautiful it'll be.
    You'll probably be so busy working and thinking about it you may *lose* weight automatically :).

    1. We survived with lots of take out. The toaster and micro just didn't cut it for long.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pine time

        Us too. I didn't plan ahead as much as I should have - if I had it to do over again, I would do as Heidi suggests below and start making and freezing meals. Even making a decent salad was a huge PITA because I didn't have a convenient place to chop anything or wash anything. Oddly enough, though, I didn't gain a ton of weight - I was so insanely busy trying to keep up with the project that I think I forgot to eat half the time.

      2. Depending on your location an outdoor grill can substitute for a kitchen oven / stove. During the summer probably 75% of my meals are prepared on my grill.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jrvedivici

          Exactly. While our contractor is encouraging us to do the reno during winter months we are planning for late spring/early summer next year just for that reason. Every person we spoke to said being able to grill and the option of eating outdoors saved them money and sanity!! Bonus if your grill has a burner or two attached.

          1. re: foodieX2

            boston. home of eternal winter. but we have grilled in a polar vortex. so thanks for the suggestion!

        2. Go into this whole process knowing that it WILL take longer than you think. Schedules get upset all the time. That is just the nature of renovation!

          You can start preparing meals and freezing them now, for reheating later in the microwave. Even sauces that can be morphed into different dishes would be a good idea.

          1. Make as many frozen dinners in disposable containers as you can beforehand... it's a lifesaver to just be able to toss something in the microwave rather than having to go and get takeout for the twenty-fifty day in a row. A crockpot is also good (use the disposable crockpot liners so you don't have to scrub it, just wipe down...) Plan on using paper plates etc as much as possible. Cleaning up in the bathroom or laundry is a royal pain in the rump.
            PS. This topic has been discussed many a time before - do a search for the other threads and you'll find plenty of advice. :)

            1. Been through this a few times.

              #1 whatever your timetable, double it. Contractors disappoint, shipments get delayed, utilities can't schedule appointments on the day you want, and the local government inspectors don't make it easy to continue each phase of work

              #2 in addition to the fridge and microwave (assuming it's not easy to grill outside) invest in a large non-stick electric frying pan with glass lid, a good quality induction countertop burner and a decent sized toaster oven.

              Last summer/fall we were without our cooktop and ovens for 6 weeks during renovations and made constant use of these three items. Mrs. B had never used an electric frying pan before and was amazed at what I could turn out. Now the electric frying pan gets used a couple of times a week.

              #3 Buy prepared ready to cook with ingredients. It's easy to make a soup or stew in a pot on the burner or in a crocktop, but hard to do prep work at a bathroom sink (YKKK). Trader Joes has two pound size round containers of mirapoix that we use as a base for these items. Also but bagged frozen chopped onions and peppers for making sauce, etc. Bagged baby carrots, cut celery sticks also help. Buying already fully prepared food is very expensive and not all that healthy, buying fresh ready to cook food that has already been prepped makes sense in this case, even items such as meat kabobs from your grocer's refrigerated case make sense. No need to eat out all that often or sacrifice your health for high sodium high fat prepared food.

              Lastly, if you don't bave enough storage space for your extra prepared food, consider renting a refridgerator with decent sized freezer from rent-a-center or the like and stick in in your garage, basement or on the porch, it will make your life easier.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bagelman01

                thanks. i live on the top two floors of a victorian in boston. so no garage (or driveway) or porch. i do have a deck to grill on.

              2. When SIL moved into current house, it had a deinfitely SIXTIES kitchen... first thing to be gutted. She had a nice sized "laundry room" area. She set up a few big folding tables... with pretty much a full kitchen on top. A few single electric burners, at least 2 crock pots, toaster, food processor, blender, etc. Had access to big laundry sink for dishes. Fridge move down from original kitchen. It was SEVERAL months of renovations, but beautiful result. Her only BIG complaint was... height of work surfaces!?! She's relatively tall, so folding table was LOW.

                1. I've been through a couple of kitchen renos ....... the more planning - realistic planning - you do, the better you will fare. Find your simple "go-to" foods and make them star. Using pre-prepped ingredients will be a help. Often, I used a salad bar for already cut vegetables when my work space was particularly filthy.

                  If you can plan a space far away from the mess, you will be much better off. I'd thought to use the garage but in the desert in the summer, it was uninhabitable. Of course we did a lot of grilling, but that will not be the total solution for the OP.

                  More later, I need to be somewhere five minutes ago.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sherri

                    thank you!

                    1. re: eLizard

                      To continue, knowing what you have available before you begin is a great help. Fridge? With this, you won't need to deal with the mess of a cooler. Even if it's in your bedroom/bathroom/library, it will be a 'plus'.
                      Cooking gear -- assess what you normally do and try to think of a small appliance that can do this job. I used our BBQ grill, an electric skillet, toaster oven and a small gas cassette. The fewer pans needed the better since your washing-up facilities will likely be makeshift. Bending over a bathtub with a greasy pan loses its allure quickly. I quickly learned that a one-pot-wonder was much easier than trying to make a salad and sandwiches. The S&S required much too much prep space and utensils to make it a good solution, even though it is easy to accomplish in a 'regular' kitchen.

                      Paper is your new best friend. Paper towels, paper plates, paper napkins, etc do not require cleanup. My sons decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches using the iron and foil-wrapped bread & cheese. They were a hit. Looking on this as an adventure - keeping the end prize in sight - can make or break the project. Do plan that it will cost more and take longer than you expect.

                      Don't overlook the benefits of feeding your construction crew. They will reward your thoughtfulness many times over.

                      1. re: Sherri

                        great suggestions. thank you!

                  2. This question has been addressed at least a few times on Home Cooking. Here is a link to one recent thread:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/961997

                    Always good to ask again as Hounds are a creative bunch and there are always new Hounds with good suggestions. Plug in "renovation" or "remodel" to the search function on the Home Cooking board and you'll probably pull up more.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: masha

                      thanks!

                    2. Not much I can add actually. You will loose some sanity, it's part of the process. It usually happens when the contractor states ". . . I wasn't expecting that . . " Well he said that more than once.

                      A) It will take longer than expected, although 8 weeks is probably not a bad guess, ours way under guessed and I knew enough to know he was way off and it still took longer.
                      B) Anything you can bake in an oven you can bake on a good gas grill. I made a great meatloaf on mine and was able to control the temperature almost as well as the oven.
                      C) Stay calm, it will be worth it in the end, and know up front it's going to cost more than estimated, it's just going to.
                      D) Follow some of the already good suggestions that have already been made.
                      E) Enjoy your new kitchen!

                      1. We did fine with a toaster oven, mircowave and grill. Plan on it lasting longer than 8 weeks. Something always comes up that throws everyones schedule off. The grill was a godsend. You can do a lot on it if you are creative. Stockup on paper plates and plastic utensiles.

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: mike0989

                          "Stockup on paper plates and plastic utensiles."

                          +1
                          I did quite well cooking-wise with the toaster oven/grill/electric kettle. The thing I missed the MOST was my kitchen sink. Washing dishes in the basement laundry room got old fast.

                          I coped using Rubber Maid dish tubs which I could lug up and down the stairs...and tons of paper plates/towels.

                          1. re: pedalfaster

                            Yes, yes, yes! Washing space is, imo, the most-overlooked aspect of a reno. Everyone worries about how to cook, when cleaning those dishes is often worse. Even our big laundry sink got real old, real fast.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              We also found that the toilet doubles nicely as a garbage disposal. You'll find that your trash is can is getting a lot fuller than it was in the past.

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                So true. Washing pots and pans in a bathroom sink is tedious, doing them in the bathtub kills your back. Having someplace where you can have a big container of hot soapy water on a counter makes a huge difference. Also, a hot plate or electric skillet and electric tea kettle come in really handy.

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  I usggested putting the dishes in the Jacuzzi tub, but Mrs. mikie nixed that great idea.

                                  Paper plates and plastic forks and knives were a big help. I did meatloaf on the grill in a disposable aluminum pan. Something else to add to your list.

                                  1. re: mikie

                                    i actually thought of that one myself! have a bunch of those! thanks!

                                2. re: pedalfaster

                                  We even bought "paper" bowls from CostCo. Quick and easy for b'fast cereal and hot chili for dinner. While I'm usually environmentally aware, I made an exception during the reno.

                                  1. re: pine time

                                    We're still using ours up, 9 years post-reno. But we're getting there, they're almost gone! :)

                                  2. re: pedalfaster

                                    Something my brother did when his kitchen was being redone was put the old dishwasher in the laundry room (somehow was able to manage the water hook-up and drain)... seemed brilliant.

                                    1. re: firecooked

                                      wow! amazing.

                                      i'm emptying out the kitchen now and creating a provisional one in the office. it's a lot of work.....

                                      1. re: eLizard

                                        If you have the space, ask your contractor to save a couple of your old base cabinets and put them in your temporary kitchen space, including the countertops, if that is feasible (e.g., if the counters are laminate, which is pretty easy to cut). That will provide an area for storage of staples and/or cookware and dishes that is easier to access than boxes, including a bit of workspace if the counters are salvageable.

                                        1. re: masha

                                          Which reminds me, if you're in need of garage or extra office storage, here's your chance. We told our contractor to save a number of our old cabs. Some we hung on the garage wall, others we used as a base (along with a sheet of plywood) for a workbench.

                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                            City dweller. no garage or driveway! but great tip.

                                    2. re: pedalfaster

                                      Its all about the sink - I went through months without a kitchen as the whole space needed rebuilding foundation up - fridge and microwave/grill were survivable but doing dishes in the bathroom sink was awful

                                      invest in paper plates and other disposables

                                  3. Don't laugh, but one of the hospitals (out of 5) near us had good food reasonably priced. We ate there occasionally. Not all fall in that category but some do. We were lucky to have friends invite us too dinner occasionally as well. My contractor left my old stove in place as long as he could. We moved the frig around too

                                    1. Don't let them start the demo until everything for the new kitchen has arrived and been examined. Not enough tile and a damaged sink set my sister's reno back a month, after it had already been gutted.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        wow. i didn't even think of that.

                                      2. I think 8 weeks is way too long...I've seen whole houses built in close to that....good luck! and enjoy your new kitchen!
                                        It is all about getting a great contractor who does not work by the hour....

                                        We have done 2 kitchens ourselves, I mean OURSELVES, and 8 weeks seems long....plumbing,electric, walls, cabinets, countertops(butcherblock),floors,demo,

                                        But then again I was a shop teacher who taught this stuff....

                                        It is all scheduling with sub- contractors.....unless they do it all themselves....

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Raffles

                                          8 weeks sounds about right or even optimistic, depending upon the scope of the remodel and the age of the house. If it's merely a matter of keeping the same floor plan and upgrading cabinets, counters, and appliances, then a slightly shorter timespan may be possible. But if there are interior walls that are being removed or an outer wall being bumped out to expand the size of the kitchen, or if it's an old house where there are all sorts of electrical or plumbing surprises that may be lurking behind the walls, it could take way longer. The advantage of building from scratch is that the contractor is working on a blank slate.

                                          As the owner of a 100 year old house, who has survived 1-1/2 kitchen remodels (we tweaked the original remodel about 10 years after it was done) and 5 bathroom remodels, as well as a remodel of our basement, I can confidentially say that expecting a kitchen remodel to take less than 8 weeks is extraordinarily optimistic

                                          1. re: masha

                                            I guess we are lucky that we are able to do the work ourselves..... LOL, and flippantly... you all should have paid attention and taken SHOP classes!

                                            I refused to do off the books work for most ppl when I was working... WHY? my prices were well below the market ....which I thought was over the top...and still do. too many ppl trying to get rich too quickly....

                                            1. re: Raffles

                                              my wife is a designer/builder/realtor. The main part of our house was built in 1803. We did a complete kitchen renovation 28x40 including outside walls and windows and mudroom in 2013.
                                              It took 17 weeks. The floorplan was completely different. Contractors were not to blame, many were her own crews. BUT many times work could not go forward while waiting for the town inspectors to complete their jobs.
                                              For example, after the wiring was run in the walls, the electrical inspector had to come inspect before insulation could be put between the studs. The electrical inpsectors were running 8 working days after request. Then after the insulation was put in, no sheet rock could be put up. Again more than a week's wait for the insulation inpector. Similarly with plumbing, roof, gas................
                                              We figured that if the inspectors came the day following the requests (which is the norm) we would have saved 3 weeks. BUT, our work followed the devestation of Hurricane Sandy and kitchen remodels were not a town priority.

                                            2. re: masha

                                              my house was built in 1890. but we're not doing anything structurally like moving or removing walls. we are closing up a window. nor are we locating water or gas. but i'm still guessing i won't have a kitchen til june.

                                          2. Set up a temporary satellite kitchen. We did this in the second bedroom of a high-rise condo. All you really need is a card table, chairs to sit on to eat, a couple of electric appliances (toaster oven, slow cooker, toaster, coffee pot---whatever is essential to you---definitely a small microwave), and a small fridge. If you don't already have a dorm-size fridge and microwave, buy cheap ones and later sell them on Craigslist. Washing up is awkward whether you do it in a bathroom sink or basement laundry tubs, but you can minimize this by using paper plates, plastic forks etc. Heed the advice to freeze meals ahead of time. Get takeout or eat out a lot. Try to stay calm and take the attitude "This too will pass".

                                            Even if you are replacing the kitchen refrigerator, have them drag the old one out of their way but leave it plugged it so you can use it until the job is done.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Querencia

                                              satellite is set up in the office. giant glass desk is the kitchen table. our huge stainless steel prep table from kitchen has moved in there. we're putting the fridge in there. credenza is housing dry goods and has the toaster oven and micro. floating shelves have more dry goods.

                                              1. re: eLizard

                                                Can you get an induction burner to add to the micro/toaster oven options? They're not very expensive at this point (as compared to a kitchen renovation anyhow).

                                                Something along these lines? http://www.amazon.com/Burton-6200-180...

                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                  Or a Coleman propane camp stove with 2 burners, or a crock pot from the local thrift shop.

                                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                    Crock pot yes, I'd be worried about the camp stove in an area without some sort of hood/vent though. I think elsewhere in the thread the OP did note something about a deck/porch on which to grill, though. Could work there.

                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                      We used our camp stove in the garage on rainy days. We opened the door and had plenty of fresh air.

                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                        Yeah, as long as there's sufficient ventilation, no worries. But the OP noted, I think, a satellite kitchen in an office in the house. I'd worry about a propane/butane fed setup in such a spot.

                                                      2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                        we have a gas grill. we're good there. thanks.