As I write this post, there are cabinets being installed in the kitchen below me. Thank God. You know I love going out to eat, but I may turn into a Bruegger’s cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese (and, let’s be honest…hot chocolate) if I have to call that lunch too many more times. I’m disappointed in how much I’ve cooked over these first few weeks in the house, but I’ve learned some handy tips for the few meals I have made. In case you find yourself without a proper kitchen set-up, here are a few ideas to keep you from going crazy.
Be Creative With Your Flat Surfaces
Since we embarked on this journey, I have found myself chopping vegetables on a coffee table, mixing salad in a bowl on a (just cleaned!!) toilet seat lid, and standing on a chair mixing soup in a crock pot because said crock pot was too high for me to look into from eye level. Since we have the kitchen, dining room and living room furniture all in the living room right now, it’s a tight squeeze and I’ve had to learn to make do. Hey, don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes. When you find yourself forming hamburger patties on a night stand, then you’re allowed to laugh at me.
Embrace The Slow Cooker
Speaking of crock pots… I’ve only made one soup in our slow cooker so far, but I made it in the big one, so it lasted about four meals for each of us (roughly 2.5 meals too many for me…) This was a big life saver because not only could I create a meal in one pot, but I could also make it ahead of time…before the dust started flying that day. I equate slow cooker to soup maker, so I think if the weather was cooler, I would be using this more. There are a bunch of good meat recipes that would probably make sense, but I’m pretty cautious about the cleanliness (or lack there of) of raw meat. (Because the random screws rolling around the floor nor the dirty dust mop right behind the fridge are enough to make me run to my nearest Merry Maids?!?)
It’s Summer – Use the Grill!
Even if you do your remodel during cold weather months, pack on the parka and get outside. Our grill has been my secret weapon! I’ve used it for obvious recipes like grilling mixed veggies and butcher-created hamburgers, but I have also mastered grilling corn on the cob and found the perfect foil-steaming method for all hearty vegetables. Since our gas grill has a side burner, I’ve even been able to make pasta and (thank my lucky stars) rice!
Use Your Grocer For More Than Basics
I normally try to stick with the healthy food around the perimeter of the grocery store, but I’ve started branching out more into the center and other areas to get items I would normally make at home. My local Pick N’ Save has a great selection of premade hamburgers in many fun flavors. Their salad bar is a perfect option for a healthy lunch without having to wash all the dishes at home. It’s getting pricey, but Starbucks’ chocolate smoothie is pretty much the same thing I make for myself at home. When I don’t feel like cleaning out the blender (again), this makes for a good breakfast. Our CSA offered a bread and bakery share this season allowing us to even keep a stock of freshly baked goods without an oven.
Don’t put the microwave on the same breaker as the fridge…and the air conditioner…and the antiquated computer. Or do and call it a glut workout for all the stairs you’ll be doing switching fuses in the basement each lunch time.
Moral of the story – if you can swallow your many-ingredient, hippie-organic, do-it-my-way pride, there are many ways to still stay semi-healthy and semi-homemade without a true kitchen. But there is no way to do dishes without a proper sink (or more so a dishwasher… please make the dishwasher come back into my life soon!!!) without being grumbly. But that’s what your significant other (and/or paper plates) are for. Just remember… this isn’t forever and you’ll have an amazing new work space soon enough.
Now please excuse me while I start picking out recipes for the future (and take-out menus for tonight).