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Prepping to live through a kitchen renovation

I am about to start a full kitchen renovation / addition. We are a household of 3 adults and 2 toddlers, therefore, being able to eat home-cooked dinner at home at least a few times a week is crucial. I have a fridge and a full-size sink in our laundry room, as well a bbq, rice cooker, toaster, portable induction cooktop (one burner), and microwave. Pretty much everything except an oven and multi-burner stove. With all of that, I know that I can cook most of my regular meals.

For the nights that I come home from work and need to get dinner on the table quickly,I am trying to think of things that I can fully cook and freeze, that can then be defrosted and microwaved... vs. prepped, frozen, then baked. I think I can do lasagna, meatballs, soups. Am I missing any other great ideas?

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  1. I defrosted some fully-baked enchiladas for my husband last night, and I think they were better than the first time around! Most pasta sauces will defrost very well, and then all you have to do is cook up some fresh pasta. Braised meat dishes also freeze well.

    1. It took a fortnight for our renovation. We cooked nothing and lived on what we could microwave, takeaways and restaurant meals. And we washed up the crockery in the bath!

      1. When SIL and her family moved into current house (maybe 6-8 years ago), the first thing to go was the dated late 60's kitchen. They have lots of friends "in the trades" so weren't left at the mercy of contractors for lightling, plumbing, drywall/paint, etc. BUT she was without a kitchen for a few MONTHS. House has BIG family room so that's pretty much where they lived thru the process. Off the FR is a good sized laundry/utility room. She set up 2 LONG folding table with pretty much all the cooking things you mentioned. Were replacing fridge once project was done, so had NEW, full-sized fridge freezer parked in LR for duration. Pretty sure she bought of those single burner things and KNOW she bought an extra crockpot. She said the hardest partof using the make-shift kitchen was the HEIGHT of the tables. She's relatively tall and with table being significantly lower than a standard counter-top... achin' back from time to time.

        1. There are other thread about this on chowhound.

          As I have said before, during a renovation/remodel it's less about the cooking (sounds like you have that covered) and more about the ~cleaning~.

          You have a (full-sized? double?) sink, but no dishwasher. (?). So think about ways you can reduce your dish-output.

          One-dish meals and disposable serving pieces can be your friends.
          It's so worth it in the end! Good luck.

          1. How long is you're remodel gonna take?
            Might be worth it to buy 1-2 more portable induction burners.
            Also realizing that having 2 immersion circulators and a searzall is gonna be super nice when it's remodel time, hadn't thought about that as another benefit of that gear.

            Definitely make pasta sauces. I've found that oxtail ragu freezes very well. Some curry sauces would be easy then all you have to do is cook some meat and rice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

              We will be out of the kitchen for 4-6 weeks. The curry idea is brilliant. Hadn't thought of non-pasta sauces! Thanks so much!

            2. Chili
              Chicken cacciatore

              Do you have a slow cooker? Otherwise, you're set.

              We had our kitchen redone over a year ago, and I am fortunate to have the same in my laundry room- fridge and utility sink.
              We hardly at out and didn't even order in too much more than usual.
              All my needs were met having converted the laundry room into a kitchenette.

                1. I assume you are heading into the summer months? My knee jerk reaction was soups, stews, meatballs/sauce, etc. as they reheat really well in the micro but I can't imagine wanting to eat much of that in the warmer months.

                  I would think the grill would be the best answer to that last minute weeknight meal. Burgers, grilled chicken, sliced steak, etc. you can do pizza on the grill with purchased dough.

                  You could even freeze bags of chicken or steak tips in marinade, take them out in the am and then throw on the grill when you get home.

                    1. Burritos!
                      A basic meat/beans/rice/cooked veg burrito and or eggy breakfast burritos. Work great in the microwave, just add fresh salsa and whatever salad or veg.

                      Meatloaf (or meatless loaf) baked in muffin tins. Great ontop of salads, cut and on a sandwich with pasta sauce, crumbled into pasta, as is with a few sides.

                      Also see these threads:

                      1. ok with one burner and a microwave you can make a ton of stuff that will also limit number of pots and pans to wash without a d/w . a few ideas, par cook about 80% of the way enough rice to feed everyone 2 or 3 meals spread out to cool quickly, then you can bag it or container in the separate bags or containers with a couple tbsp. of water and freeze, then before you lose use of your kitchen you can make a few different sauces like lemon pepper w/mushrooms or say tomato w/peppers onions then grill some chicken breast and cool , now you can bag 2-3 pieces of chicken with a good cup or so of each sauce and freeze and bag up any left over sauce separate and freeze, come time for dinner in a hurry big pot of water to simmer on your one burner and boil bags of chick, microwave rice. bags go garbage and only 1 pot from boiling water to clean. the sauce in the bag will keep chicken from drying out while reheating. you can make your own boil-in bags with fish too. if something thin like say flounder no need to precook fish just add some lemon white wine a pat of butter if wanted and some herbs and freeze .you can also precook some pasta most of the way and freeze in bags then you can boil your bags of chicken or fish and soon as done open bag of pasta dump into the already boiling water you just pulled your main course out of and its done in 1-2 minutes . and still only 1 pot to wash .hope you find some of this helpful. the other thing is the fish goes from freezer to boiling water no defrost and if you forget to defrost chicken no problem its only reheating anyway so straight to boiling water is still pretty quick. hope you find this of some use. DOM.

                        1. While we're usually environmentally aware, it had to go by the wayside during the kitchen re-do. Bought styro bowls at CostCo for cereals and soups, decent paper plates and cups. Helped in reducing the washing up (we used the utility sink in the garage rather than the bathtub).

                          We also resurrected the (forgotten) electric skillet. Was fun frying up stuff while in the office!

                          1. Pulled pork freezes nicely. Also baked beans. Recently read that microwaved corn on the cob is healthier than boiling it. There are some hearty salads that can be made in the morning or day before like broccoli salad that can be refrigerated a few days. I save out some broccoli flowerettes for our 2 yo grandson. There are one dish rice dishes that start with sautéed onion and celery with other vegetables added. Would go nicely with any grilled meat or fish.

                            1. It's amazing what you can do with a rice cooker- ask my daughter in law who grew up in Japan. Here's a great link


                              1. I lived without a kitchen for months on end because I needed to rebuild from the foundation up - the sink in the laundry room will be your savior - everything else you can manage but without a sink you would be lost. Still the more disposable you can use the better (I am usually anti disposable things) Paper plates and such will help reduce the clutter and mess

                                1. If you have a grill/griddle/panini maker (something like the Cuisinart Griddler), you can add hot sandwiches, scrambled eggs, pancakes/bacon, etc. to your possible menus. I think there's a thread somewhere on here with panini recipes - my two favorites are ham + mozzarella + hot cherry peppers + balsamic vinegar, and roast chicken or turkey (eg from a rotisserie bird) + cheddar + apple slices + apricot preserves. And there's always a good old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich!

                                  We redid our kitchen in Dec 2009 and I made and froze lasagna, chili, posole, and shredded chicken or pork. Rounds 1 and 2 were fine. Round 3 was monotonous.

                                  3 Replies
                                    1. re: truman

                                      You can make paninis just fine without any special equipment: use a cast iron skillet on your induction hotplate, and use another pan to press down on the panini while it's cooking.

                                      1. re: ellabee

                                        I use a foil-wrapped paver.
                                        Heavy sucker!