Survival of the Kitchenless
Over six weeks.
That’s how long I lived without a kitchen. Crazy how it dragged on and fly by at the same time. Jeremy looked like this most of the time…
And our living room transformed into a real ‘do-everything-to-maintain-life’ room. I did everything in here…work, eat, cook, relax, play with Will, craft….everything. And please excuse all the clutter….remember, this post is all about keeping it real.
So with the kitchen completely sealed off (trying to keep paint fumes at bay with Frog Tape and plastic sheets), we had rolled the fridge into this space as well as our kitchen table and bench, Will’s high chair and other necessities.
I got so many people asking about how we survived during our ‘kitchen-vacation’ that I decided to tell ya my favorite tips on how to keep going sans a proper kitchen space or a range or oven. So here goes…
- create a pantry. we actually stored food supplies on top of the fridge and the microwave (not pictured). I kept it fairly simple and tried to buy variety packs of items whenever possible (like a variety box of chips so that we weren’t storing full sized chip bags but still had choices). The pantry also made it easy to still eat at home which is a big deal because eating out = money suck.
- keep function the top priority - On the first day we had our trash out of direct reach of the table. We were attempting to make things look good vs. keeping the function as easy as possible. Big mistake. When you are living kitchenless, function is numero uno on the priority list. If you don’t use it, put it in storage. If you do use it, keep it close because chaos is knocking on your living room door. For us, that meant the trash and recycling cans needed to be directly next to our table. The toaster also needed to be as close to that end of the table too since the outlet was there. And yes, my son is very into stacking things…any things.
- Utilize the tray method - On our table lived the ‘do-everything’ tray. It held all the necessities…everything from the salt & pepper shaker to a pair of kitchen scissors to ziploc baggies to our daily gummy vitamins. That tray kept me from looking in every box in the house. The most important things were in that tray…and they were neatly corraled so I could find them easily.
- get a bucket – I have to admit, we used a lot of paper bowls and plates. But we also still used quite a lot of ‘real’ dishes too. So that meant that we had to wash dishes every day. I stashed a bucket near the table to put all the dirty dishes into and then at the end of each day, I would shuffle my little bootie to the bathroom and wash them all by hand. My little bucket kept me from constantly having dirty dishes mixed in with the clean ones and meant I only had to do the bathroom shuffle once a day vs. every meal time.
- get to know your microwave – last but not least, we have the how-we-cooked-at-home tip. It’s called the microwave. Yup. Every day we ate at home and tried to have as many hot meals as possible. That meant that we got to know our microwave-friendly dishes. It’s amazing how much you can do in that single appliance…so here are our favorites:
1. Frozen Snacks – Taquitos, jumbo pretzels, even corndogs are available for really cheap and can be quickly cooked for a hot snack.
2. Bread – Will loves bread and needs carbs at meal times…so we found that bread sticks and toast were super easy options for him. Plus, we could make these easily enough and pretend we were at Olive Garden eating a fancy chef-made meal.
3. Carby sidedishes – When it comes to side dishes, carbs were really easy…we could readily find macaroni, rice and faux mashed potatoes that could easily be prepared in the microwave. We also found that real potatoes were super fast and could be served in a pinch.
4. Frozen veggies – It was really hard to prepare fresh produce in the microwave. We did corn on the cob quite a bit but the rest of our veggies were of the frozen variety…it was easy to find single packs that steamed in the microwave and were ready in less than five minutes.
5. Soups – Will and I would grab a few of these ready-to-heat-and-eat soups at the grocery store and they always were a crowd pleaser. Not only were they a great hot meal but there was practically no cleanup.
6. Mixed sides – Green Giant makes a variety of steamed-in-the-microwave options for mixed sides. Since there was no way for me to mix up a creamy sauce or serve items with more seasoning than salt & pepper, some of these thrown into the mix shook up the norm.
7. Frozen meals – Marie and I are like BFF’s now. Yup. I would google coupons for Marie Calendar’s frozen meals and for about $5 I would have a hot dinner ready for Jeremy. Throw in a few breadsticks and you are practically eating gourmet Seriously though – these frozen dinners are really easy and can be made in a pinch…our favorites were the lasagna (Jer) and the creamy chicken alfredo (mine).
8. Grilled meats - When it came to meats, it was really important to us to also utilize the grill. We could make a lot in the microwave but the grill helped us feel like we had a really fresh meal. Whenever we threw on chicken or keilbasa or brats or hamburgers, we would also make sure to grill some fresh veggies and toast some thickly sliced bread (waste not the gas!). We never felt deprived after a grilled-to-order meal
We would also make sure to stock up on fruit for Will and just kept it in the fridge…and we visited the grocery store more frequently but bought smaller amounts (we did eat out a little more than usual so we didn’t want food to be going bad if we decided to hit the BBQ place vs. eating at home).
So that’s how we did it. We survived and it was surprisingly more easy than I hoped. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if we were able to reach the fridge while still seated on the couch
Have you lived kitchenless before? Any tips for how you made it work?