There is little else more disruptive to your daily life than remodeling the kitchen. Not only are you investing your money and time, you are also kissing goodbye easy food-making for the foreseeable future. But if you do it right, you won’t have to rely on take-out for the next nine months; you can turn your survival into a culinary adventure.
Create a temporary kitchen.
Preferably this will be an area in the house that has close access to a sink, as you may be using it to clean your dishes. Your temporary kitchen can be in your basement, or the living room, as long as you remove anything breakable from the area. Lay down sheets or plastic on the carpet to prevent any food stains and try not to clutter the area needlessly.
Keep the essentials.
Whatever you can use from your kitchen is coming with you to the temporary location. That means the refrigerator (or if that’s not possible, a mini fridge), your coffeemaker, the microwave, toaster, etc. These appliances are going to be your best friends and meal-making tools in the coming months, so you may want to buy a power strip with at least 6 outlets. And don’t forget about utilizing your grill. Even if your kitchen is being remodeled in February, you’ll want to have some barbecue for dinner after a few weeks eating off of hot plates.
Yes, you can wash your dishes in the bathroom sink, but that’s a lot of work that you will get sick of early on. Invest in paper plates, instead. If you are replacing your kitchen cabinets, ask your contractor to place a few of the old ones in your temporary kitchen space for food storage. Or, you can buy plastic storage bins to act as your short-term “pantry.”
Get creative where you can.
No kitchen sink? Why, you can wash dishes in a bathtub! No counters? Use the dining room table! No oven? Well, that is a bummer. But a toaster oven can work wonders on your dinners. The more creative you are with your substitutions, the more fun you’ll have. Sure, you don’t have an oven, but the crock pot makes a mean chicken alfredo.
This is a new and exciting experience! It’s like camping, or having a picnic every day – without the bugs! You’re even using your grill more now than you did the past two summers! Yes, this set-up is going to get old fairly quickly, which is why you need to have fun where you can. Look up fun sandwich ideas from the Food Network website! Invite your friends over for a barbecue dinner and play cards as you eat on the floor!
Plan your meals.
Breakfast should be easy, as you can cook eggs, bacon, and even pancakes on a skillet. Sandwiches will be fine for lunch on most days, but dinners are trickier to plan without any proper cooking equipment. Before your renovation, freeze as many meals as you can that you can heat up with your appliances. Lasagna, stew, anything that you can toss pasta or vegetables in to keep healthy. Make a list of all of the different meals you can microwave. And know that you’re going to eat out more often than you think, so start clipping out restaurant coupons before renovations even begin.
As much as you try to eat well, there are going to be a lot of days where it is just easier to have take-out instead of struggling with the hot plate again. So make sure you are buying fresh fruits and eating salad with meals when you can. Instead of fried chicken, buy a ready-made rotisserie chicken. Limiting how often you eat out is not only good for your health, but for your wallet as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Your friends and neighbors probably have a fondue pot or waffle iron that has been sitting in the back of their closet since their wedding. Ask if you can borrow it, and ask your family if anyone has a camping cooking stove you can use. Send out a distress call for cookware and see what rolls in. Even a Panini maker will spice up all of those boring sandwiches you’ll be living on. If you’re really aching for a home-cooked meal, offer to make your friends or family dinner if they let you use their kitchen. This is the perfect time to rely on your support system, so make sure you reach out when you need to. Then when they’re remodeling and stuck eating ramen noodles or hot dogs for weeks, you can happily return the favor.