Surviving Without a Kitchen During Your Remodel

Tips on how to get home-cooked meals and not spend too much money on take-out food.
By: Jacquelyn McGilvray
Camp Stove

Camp Stove

Stuck without a kitchen during remodeling? Try using a camp stove for a temporary kitchen.

Whether you’re doing a small remodel or a big renovation, living without a kitchen can be hectic, crazy and expensive. And eating out every night could end up blowing your remodeling budget. But if you plan and prepare, you can survive, thrive and even have fun while waiting for your new kitchen to be done.

  • Plan on setting up a temporary kitchen in some place like your garage, basement or utility room (ideally, someplace with a sink). Ask your contractor if he can help. Before you get rid of your old cabinets, have him place a few in your temporary kitchen. If the cabinets don’t have a countertop anymore, lay plywood on top so you’ll at least have a work surface and a place for small appliances.
  • Set up a bulletin board in your temporary kitchen to track the remodeling progress. Take photographs often, and make a checklist and a calendar so you can cross off each step as it happens. It’ll help keep your frustration down if you can see that you’re getting to your end goal – a new kitchen. Be patient: the process hardly ever happens as quickly as you hoped it would.
  • Keep commonly used kitchen items in clear plastic storage containers and label them accordingly. This will make it easier to find what you need. Box up stuff that you use only occasionally and store it in an out-of-the-way place.
  • If you’re still going to have a freezer during the remodel, make some big meals ahead of time and freeze them in smaller portions. This way you can defrost single-meal portions and reheat them in the microwave.
  • Offer a friend a home-cooked meal in exchange for using her kitchen. If you bring the food and the fixings, she’ll probably be delighted.
  • If you’re lucky enough, your remodel will take place in warmer weather during barbeque season. If you’re worried about putting your cookware on the grill, rub bar soap on the bottom and sides of your pots and the black soot from the grill will easily wash off.
  • Start clipping restaurant and take-out coupons before your remodel starts. If you plan and budget for dining out you’ll have more money to invest in your remodel.
  • Plan on picnicking. Even if the weather isn’t nice, spread a plastic tablecloth on the floor of your living room or den. The best thing about indoor picnics: no ants.
  • Go to www.foodnetwork.com to find new and creative ways to make sandwiches. Panini makers are very portable and fairly inexpensive.
  • Invest in a camping cook stove. Better yet, borrow one from a friend or check online to see whether you can get a secondhand one cheap.
  • Put away breakables and valuables in rooms adjacent to the kitchen. Stuff in the next room may even suffer damage during construction or when work crews are carrying equipment in and out.
  • Map out the path the contractors will take from your door to the kitchen and protect those floors by laying down carpet scraps, old rugs or plastic drop cloths.
  • If you have pets, keep them out of the way of the work crew. They could disrupt work, or worse, get hurt.
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