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The Kitchen Remodel Reality Check

CDKitchen Cooking Columnist Christine Gable
About the author: Christine Gable
Culinary enthusiast; kids cuisine and slow cooking; magazine recipe developer; professional writer. Her simple recipes are great for family dinners.
As I write this, our kitchen is being re-modeled. In other words: the house is a mess. The kitchen is ripped apart. And we’re eating off paper plates with no kitchen sink.

Yeah, I knew it was coming. And yeah, it’s a serious reality check.

Just having to put together a meal and not having a sink with running water nearby is a challenge all in itself. Add to that: no stove, no oven and no counter space.

On the positive side: toaster oven, microwave and a borrowed one-pot electric burner. Sounds like an interesting way to whip up meals, eh?

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And even though it’s easy to say “let’s eat cereal and pizza for two weeks,” it’s a whole ‘nother animal to actually do that. ‘Cause you know how too many meals of take-out pizza makes you feel, huh? Ugh.

And how about when there’s just a general disarray and commotion in your main living area? All in all, it leaves me feeling a bit undone (or is that overdone?). Thank goodness it’s not for longer than two weeks or I may really be having some serious issues (and writing about it more often than you want to hear).

So I bet y’all are just wondering what we’re eating with a toaster oven, microwave and single burner now, aren’t ya?

Well, one thing’s for sure: I’m not whipping up multiple course gourmet dinners. And I’m not making anything that can’t be easily eaten off a paper plate. The challenge of carrying dishes to the bathroom for cleaning up is impetus enough to pass on multiple pot meals and so-called extravaganzas that are taken for granted when cooking in a fully equipped and functioning kitchen.

Thankfully we could roll the refrig right into the spare room so that we could have easy access to milk, butter, yogurt and other perishables. This is wonderful. In fact, I don’t know how folks who didn’t have refrigeration did it. It sure is one of the convenient necessities of modern life that I truly enjoy.

That said, we’ve come up with a variety of meals that can all be made in a manner of minutes in our little improvised kitchen. And my 9-year-old daughter even told me she enjoys puttering around in this “cozy little” makeshift kitchen.

So if you find yourself in a fixer-upper situation, a brief remodeling run, or just on a vacation where you have limited access to pots, pans, and kitchen implements, here’s a few good meal ideas that don’t take much of anything (like time or tools):

• Baked potatoes (microwaved) with chili (canned) and cheese
• Baked potatoes with broccoli (steamed) and cheese
• Soft tacos with refried beans, sour cream, salsa and cheese / salad
• Taco salad – crispy taco shells topped with lettuce, black beans, refried beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and sour cream
• Ham & cheese melts with soup
• Turkey, pepperoni & cheese melts with soup
• One-pan stir-fry: cooked rice, onions, carrots, peas and red pepper, topped with cheese
• Chef salad: spring greens, broccoli, red pepper, tomato with slices of turkey, ham or cheese on the side

All in all, it’s a good wake-up in appreciating the bounty and abundance in our modern lives today. And stay tuned for some awesome food from our new and improved kitchen!

Next week: A Plan for Easy Summer Eating
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