Best Cooking Equipment During Kitchen Renovation

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kitchen renovationEight years ago we started an extensive kitchen renovation. It started with a wall of cabinets we tore down ourselves and progressed to where the kitchen was down to the studs–walls, floors and ceiling. Then the kitchen renovation started to come together as we installed dry wall, laid down a new hardwood floor and hung new kitchen cabinets.

We kept the project affordable by doing all the heavy lifting ourselves. But by doing it ourselves, it also meant that our kitchen was going to be out of commission for a lot longer than if we’d brought in a contractor.

Meal Planning During a Kitchen Renovation

One of my biggest concerns during this kitchen renovation? How I could continue to cook dinner for my family and save money. I didn’t want to fall back on our spendthrift ways of ordering in food, but at the same time, I needed to accept that without a working stove, I would be limited in what I could cook for dinner.

Thankfully, my husband had set up a working mini-kitchen in another part of the house, where we have a sink, dishwasher, cabinets and mini fridge, plus the microwave. But even so, I would need more to keep putting dinner on the table each night.

Kitchen Renovation Dinner Ideas

At the time here’s what I believed would help me succeed on the meal-planning front while we were under construction:

Make more meals in the slow cooker

The great thing about a Crock-Pot is you can set it up on a countertop, tabletop or on the floor, and let it simmer all day so dinner’s ready when you need it. I have only a handful of slow cooker recipes I’m comfortable with and know that my kids will like, so I’m thinking that I’ll treat myself to Stephanie O’Dea’s new book Make It Fast, Cook It Slow to help me get over the kitchen renovation-cooking hump. Her book is all about using your slow cooker to make all kinds of meals. That’s how I learned to make slow cooker French toast, perfect for Christmas morning. It was quite yummy.

Use our grill, even if it’s freezing outside

Since my pans are going into storage when the stove/oven goes offline, we’re going to have to cook all of our meats outside on the grill. Not a great option when it’s single-digit weather like it is today, but it is for sure less expensive than ordering in Chinese. I also plan on using my countertop George Forman grill whenever necessary.

Accept that we’ll have more cold meals for dinner.

I’m thinking sandwiches, cereal and things like cheese and crackers. Who says dinner has to be hot every night anyway?

Best Cooking Equipment During a Kitchen Renovation

So during this kitchen renovation I ended up writing a series of blog posts called “Cooking Without a Kitchen.” In these blog posts I did a round up of the best cooking equipment you can use if you need to cook dinner but are living through a kitchen renovation like we were.

Since those posts were some of the most popular at the time, I’ve decided to combine all of those kitchen renovation related reviews and suggestions into one post–this post.

George Foreman Grill

Though the George Foreman Grill was first introduced as a, well, indoor grill, I rarely use it that way.

But having this countertop appliance has been wonderful during this period of cooking with out a kitchen because of a kitchen renovation. Because my George Foreman Grill came with 5 Plates, I can use it to do everything from grill meat to make omelets to cook up waffles. But I think my favorite use for it has been to make grilled cheese.

You’d think that without a stove or a griddle, it would be impossible to make grilled cheese. But this handy contraption not only makes grilled cheese that my kids are always asking for seconds for, but it does it in, like, three minutes. This is a quick, easy and cheap dinner for us.

Grilled Cheese

If you’d like to try your hand at making grilled cheese this way, you’ll need the “steak grill” plate on the top and the “bake” plate on the bottom.

Heat up the grill until it’s ready to go, and then you simply make grilled cheeses like you would in a traditional pan.

Place slices of cheese between bread, put a pat of butter on each side of the sandwich, then place in the George Foreman grill and close the top.

About a minute later, flip the sandwich so you can get nice “grill” marks on both sides of the sandwich.

In less than three minutes, dinner is ready.

With regular-sized, square pieces of bread, I find that I can make three grilled cheese sandwiches at once.

Rice Cooker

Here’s another misnomer for you: cooking pasta in a rice cooker. That’s like my making stir-fry chicken in the Crock-Pot instead of a wok.

And while this notion of making pasta this non-traditional way gives my Sicilian stepmother pause, I just had to share with you how easy this was.

  • 1 1-lb box of pasta (we used penne)
  • 1 26-ounce jar of sauce
  • 26 ounces of water

I dumped it all in the rice cooker, put the top on and “cooked” it for 20 minutes. Enough of the water boiled off as steam so that by the time the pasta was al dente, the sauce had thickened and we had delicious penne. My kids don’t usually eat pasta with sauce by choice but they asked for seconds.

You can bet I’ll be trying this recipe again. Next time I might add frozen meatballs.

Crock Pot Slow Cooker

Perhaps the cooking equipment I used the most during our kitchen renovation was my Crock Pot slow cooker. I used it to make so many different dishes. In addition to using this cooking equipment for making dinners, I also found a way to use it to make breakfasts.

Some of the meals you might not think were possible to make in a slow cooker that I did, in fact, make include:

  • stir fry chicken
  • French toast
  • fried chicken

Right now I own four different Crock Pots. If I’m having a party or cooking a holiday meal, those multiple slow cookers come in handy. That said, I think it’s best to have at least one Crock Pot with a timer. That way you can set it and forget it before work, and come home to dinner already cooked!

Click through to this post on how you can use your Crock Pot slow cooker to save money, where you’ll find all of these recipes and more!

20 thoughts on “Best Cooking Equipment During Kitchen Renovation”

  1. I’m also considering kitchen renovations. Do-it-yourself is cool. It would make it more like adding a personal touch to your kitchen.

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  2. A kitchen renovation project is always an inconvenience but in the long run it will definitely pay off! You have some really great tips on how to make it through and still be able to eat and have a meal. That’s not always easy when your kitchen is under construction.

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  3. Slow cooker, George Foreman grill, electric skillet… all great options. The outdoor grill would be a better option in the summer, but I give you credit for giving it a try!

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  4. Excellent ideas! I was just about to suggest moving the stove and microwave to another part of the house if you had a space you could temporarily move it to and then I read you did =-) The crockpot and grill are excellent ideas too…I’ve been reading around on peoples DIY kitchen renovations to see what people are up to and this is the first where I’ve seen someone discuss this particular issue and set out some fab solutions! GREAT article!!!

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  5. Definitely good suggestions above. I was going to suggest one of my kids’ favorite meals — the make-your-own salad night! Chop up all your favorite raw veggies, add a protein or two (cheese, pre-cooked chicken), find their favorite dressings, and put everything out in bowls on the table. The kids take ownership of their (very healthy) meal!

    Good luck with the renovation! Incredible how much they charge for installation . . .

    Reply
  6. This post is perfect as my kitchen will be undergoing a renovation next week and I hadn’t given much thought as to what (or how) we would eat for the next few weeks. Thanks!

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  7. I just read all the other suggestions, so I think you have it pretty much well covered with the microwave, slow cooker, toaster over, electric skillet. Since you will be so busy working on renovating, you should cook larger amounts at once and freeze for a quick dinner on the very busy days. I enjoy my slow cooker, but I totally love my pressure cooker, but you need a stove for that, so maybe after your project is done. I have some recipes posted for slow and pressure cookers on my website: http://www.suburbangrandma.com , of you would like to try these. Good luck with you project. I love your site, and your ideas.

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  8. Great ideas from your readers. Especially the electric skillet suggestion. Maybe you can get one on Freecycle or Craigslist. And I have one more really frugal idea. I know you have a beautiful wood-burning fireplace – so next time you have a fire, wrap a few potatoes or sweet potatoes in foil and place them near the some hot coals in the fireplace…not right in the fire but close. Depending on the heat of the fire, the potatoes will be thoroughly cooked in an hour or so. Then you can have them as a side dish to your chicken or beef that you’ve done on your grill. Or fill the potatoes with broccoli & bacon that you’ve cooked in the microwave. Fireplace baked potatoes taste better than when done in the microwave, btw.

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  9. Do you have a rice cooker? You might want to invest in one. That and one of those rotissiere chickens from the store can make an easy meal. Salads are a good no-cook, healthy meal too.

    You can cook baked potatoes in your microwave and have a baked potato bar for dinner.

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    • I normally cook rice in the microwave, in a covered dish. Is there a benefit to having a rice cooker? Can I make pasta in a rice cooker?

      Leah

      Reply
  10. Holy Moly, that was a staggering number and I don’t blame you one bit for doign it yourself. Be frugal but make sure you go high end on whatever hardware you choose to hold up your cabinets 🙂

    I have a friend that has been trying to get me on a raw diet…I said “ew” at first BUT I’m still kind of curious. I hate to leave my crock pot comforts but having an excuse like a kitchen remodel would be a good way to start it.

    How many weeks will you be out of “kitchen Commission”?!

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    • How many weeks with my kitchen be out of commission? How many days until my husband goes back to work! Seriously, he has off until January 3rd so we’re going to try to get as much demo done before break ends, and then I guess we’ll be hanging cabinets whenever we have free time. Part of the problem is I’ve been sick since Sunday so I haven’t been able to pitch in. I’m hoping to suck it up today and help him out so the work goes faster. Then after the kitchen is demoed, he needs to lay new flooring, which will be the biggest time suck. Then we have to have those new floors redone. I’m thinking we will be kitchen-less all of January. Oh, that is scary to admit!

      Reply
  11. Hi,
    If you have access to stores that sell convection toaster ovens, you can make almost anything in one. Ours has a curved bump out in the back so it holds a 12″ pizza. I cook the hot part of our dinner in it almost every time I need an oven and rarely use the big one. I just checked, we have an Oster.

    Also, you can make oatmeal for a hot easy dinner! Finally, Leanne at Savingdinner.com has tons of crockpot recipes. You can get an ebook, sign up for weekly recipes, or order a regular book. All health too.

    Good luck with the remodel – I’m envious as we live in a rental with a terrible kitchen!

    Reply
    • Lee:

      Thanks for these suggestions. I’m familiar with Leanne of savingdinner because I subscriber to Flylady messages. I’ll have to go check her stuff out.

      Leah

      Reply
  12. Hooray! I love the slow cooker tip! I can’t get enough of that beautiful appliance 😀 If you need any recommendations for good recipes/books/websites, just ask 🙂

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  13. Boy, I don’t envy you with the mess of renovating your kitchen. We women don’t like that kind of confusion in the kitchen. However, the good news is that you seem to have a great mini-kitchen set up. That will be a great help. Don’t know if you have an electric frying pan, toaster oven, or even a wok but all can be used in limited space. Also a George Foreman grill is great. There’s just my husband and myself but I use the fry pan and toaster oven to make the main course of many means. I make chops, and even bake rolls, cookies, etc in my toaster oven Hope this helps a little.

    Reply
    • Hi, DIana:

      Yes, we have a George Foreman grill, which I plan to put to good use. I find it to be great for making grilled cheese or cooking chicken fast. Too bad it can’t make pasta, too!

      Leah

      Reply
  14. You need an electric skillet! You can use it as a griddle, to stir fry, or to deep fry…..hamburgers, grilled sandwiches, salmon patties, french toast, breakfast-for-dinner, chicken fried steak (and gravy)…..I have a full working kitchen and I STILL would feel crippled without my electric skillet!

    Reply

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