Surviving without a kitchen starts long before the contractors show up with their sledgehammers. The more you prepare in advance, the easier things will be for you during construction and after.
Having been through a kitchen renovation before, I decided to do things different the second time around: mainly, no cooking and no washing of dishes. The only exception was for the coffee pot. Ah, there’s nothing like a fresh cup of hot coffee to make everything seem okay for just a little while.
I didn’t want to use dishes because I didn’t want to wash them in my small bathroom sink. Nor did I want to wash them outside with the hose because the water that comes out of it isn’t potable, so why would I want that on my dishes? It’s just very inconvenient washing dishes without a kitchen.
And I didn’t want to cook either because that makes dishes.
I also didn’t want to eat out because I normally cook for myself all the time and only eat out maybe two or three times a month.
I had about three weeks to prepare for my remodel in which time I had to pack and prepare meals to last a few weeks.
Packing up the kitchen
First off, I got rid of a bunch of things I wasn’t using. Some of it I gave away and some of it I sold.
The next thing I did was to pack up all the small appliances and things I wasn’t going to need for a while. I put like things together and labeled every box.
Now here’s a tip that saves time after the kitchen is finished. In order to avoid having to wash everything after unpacking, I wrapped almost everything in clean plastic bags.
Then I put all that stuff into an empty hall closet, packing it like I was putting a 3D puzzle together, filling every last inch of space.
I also wrote up a list and taped it to the door so I wouldn’t forget what was in there.
Other things like my dishes, spices and packaged food went into my new temporary kitchen.
Here’s another tip. My refrigerator had space in it so I filled it up with pantry items. Canned goods can be kept in there with no problem.
Setting up a temporary kitchen during a remodel
I used the middle bedroom as my temporary kitchen. I set up a card table with a microwave, coffee pot, disposable plates, cups and silverware, napkins and snacks.
Boxes with my dishes and canned food were stored under the card table. Then I had another large box in the middle of the room filled with all the last minute stuff I packed. And on top of that I had a dish drainer, soap, windex, paper towels, etc.
The refrigerator stayed in the demoed kitchen for a while then got moved into the living room.
Meals prepared in advance
Want to know what I planned to eat? I had food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I put individual servings into plastic bags. The sandwiches were individually wrapped and stored back in the original bread wrappers. Everything got frozen except for the cheese and nuts. Here’s the list of what I made:
- Peanut butter half sandwiches, 20
- Bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, 24
- Chicken parmesan, 4 servings
- Inside out ravioli casserole, 9 servings
- Tamale pie casserole, 8 servings
- Hamburger pie casserole, 8 servings
- Pot roast, 6 servings
- Almonds, 30 snack bags
- Individually wrapped cheese sticks, 12 pc
I also had individual servings of mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables. And I bought several boxes of protein bars.
Breakfast and lunch
I alternated between the sandwiches and protein bars for breakfast and lunch.
For dinner I chose one of the casseroles and a side of vegetables.
I relied on nuts, cheese sticks and sometimes a peanut butter sandwich between meals.
Every night I would defrost food for the next day. At mealtime, all I had to do was open a plastic bag, put the food on a paper plate and microwave.
Even the dog ate off of paper plates!
I began with about five weeks worth of food that I hoped would be enough. Right around week four my patience and my food were running out due to a couple of unforeseen delays.
So I had to make an emergency trip to Costco for prepared food which I don’t normally buy. I got cheeseburgers, cooked hamburger patties, tequila lime chicken wings and a bag of lettuce. I think I heard angels singing when I feasted on those wings!
Living with a kitchen reno: noise, dust and delays
My kitchen remodel took seven weeks. The contractors were there on 23 of those 49 days. There was a lot of time when nothing was happening.
When they were there, the builders were really good about sealing off the kitchen and cleaning up at the end of the day, so dust wasn’t a big problem. Noise was a problem at times so I would sometimes take the dog for a walk. The rest of the time I tried to work on the computer, but it was really hard to concentrate.
I also had to keep my dog on a leash in the house so he wouldn’t accidentally get let out.
With a kitchen reno you should always count on the fact that it won’t be finished on time. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when unexpected things pop up.
My breaking point came around the fourth week when they had to level the kitchen floor. I wasn’t allowed in that room for three days and that was the last straw because I couldn’t use the door to the backyard. I had to walk around the front yard to the backyard every time the dog wanted to go out.
It’s amazing how much little things matter at a time like that when your house is in chaos.
After that things gradually got better as the new kitchen came together.
Moving back into the kitchen
Before I moved all my stuff back into the kitchen, I had to clean the cabinets inside and out.
Then I took my time unpacking and trying to figure out where things would go. But at least I didn’t have too many dishes to wash having protected them during storage.
If you want to see my new kitchen, then check this out.
And please share your best tip for surviving a kitchen remodel.