Over the last few months, you’ve been working with a designer to plan your perfect kitchen. You’ve waited and waited, and your order is finally here! Since your kitchen will soon be “out of order” for several weeks, it’s time to set up a short-term place to prepare meals, eat, cleanup, and pack those school lunches…your temporary “kitchen” for the duration. There is no denying that it will be inconvenient, but with a little planning, it doesn’t have to be miserable.
Pack It Up
First, you’ll need to pack up your current kitchen space. Here’s where you really need to pare down and keep out only the essentials. Keep out small things you use often, especially a mixing bowl, vegetable peeler, cutting board, several knives, a can opener, a mixing spoon and a serving spoon, to name a few. You’ll be using lots of paper plates, bowls, cups and plastic utensils, so pack all of those “real” dishes away too. Place the boxes of kitchen goods out of the way in an unused room or attic.
Pick a Spot
Find a place in your home that will be out of the way of the construction zone, the travel path to the construction area, and somewhere at least mildly comfortable. Can the table in the dining room be moved to the side to create room for your temporary kitchen? Can the car be parked in the driveway so you can use the garage for a bit? Will the set up fit in a corner of your living room or family room? Try to avoid having your temporary kitchen in several areas- it will just spread the mess farther and add to the chaos. You’ll also need a table or work surface of some sort. A really easy option is to use one or two folding tables because it allows a bit of storage underneath.
Find Room for a Fridge
Having a refrigerator of some sort during the renovation is critical. Some people already have an extra full size refrigerator in another room like the garage, and that will work perfectly. If you are keeping your current refrigerator, sometimes that can just move into an adjacent room while the renovation is in progress. Be careful and check with the contractor though, as refrigerators often require specific outlets. Otherwise, investing in a mini fridge will do the trick. If you don’t need it after the renovation, a mini fridge is often something easy to sell later.
(mini fridge, available at your nearest Kitchen and Bath Galleries!)
Create a Pantry
Next is finding a spot for the non-perishables to go. Maybe your coats relocate to a less-used closet, and your pantry items go on shelves in there. Another option, if there is room, is to move a small bookshelf to your kitchen area to help corral the cereal boxes and cans of soup. I’ve also seen some people stack their items on top of the fridge, or keep the pantry items in bins in their temporary kitchen area. Don’t forget you also need easy-access storage for a few very small things like salt and pepper.
Let the Small Appliances Do the Work!
You’ll definitely need a countertop microwave, and if you don’t already own one, now is a great time to buy a crockpot! Other favorites include a toaster or toaster oven, and a griddle or hot plate. You’ll be surprised that a lot of cooking can be done with just these few items. Also, don’t forget the coffee pot!
Now that you’re all set up…how do you make dinner!? Here’s where you get to be creative, and once you get going, it’s easier than you think. If you have a full size refrigerator during the renovation, consider making meals ahead of time and freezing so that thawing and heating in the microwave is a cinch. Many companies make microwavable/steamable veggies, and soup is really easy to heat up in the microwave as well. In North Carolina, our mild winters make it easy to grill meat, fruit, and vegetables year round. Salads are also a great renovation food choice because they are easy to prepare, and generally easy to clean up. Many crockpot recipes require only a few ingredients and very little effort, but produce great results! Check out one of my favorite slow cooker recipe at the bottom of this post. A kitchen renovation is also a great opportunity to visit some of the local restaurants you’ve been meaning to try. Remember to order extra, and you won’t even have to cook the next day. See? Easy.
Here’s where the inconvenience really sets in. Although you are going to try as hard as you can to use disposable products, you will need to use a few real dishes too. You are going to have to find another place to do dishes, and it won’t be comfortable. If you’ve got kids, count your lucky stars- make them do it. J
Just kidding. Kind of.
One option is to use a guest bathroom only for dishes during this project. You can wash a few in the sink, or a whole lot in the bathtub. Another option is to use a laundry or utility sink, and set the clean dishes to dry on a towel on the washing machine. One more way is to put soapy water in a tub or bin, and that can be placed wherever it is convenient. Then rinse in another water bin or under a faucet, and dump the dirty water out in the tub or outside when you’re through. Just remember that your shiny new kitchen will definitely be worth the inconvenience of washing dishes the hard way for a few weeks.
That’s it! If you’ve been through this process already, what are your favorite tips for creating a temporary kitchen?
Slow Cooker Recipe: “Company Chicken”
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 6-8 Hours Serves: 4-6
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 layer on bottom)
6 swiss cheese slices
1 can cream of chicken soup
6oz. package of stuffing mix
Spray interior of crockpot with non-stick spray. Place chicken breasts I slow cooker. Top each breast with a slice of cheese, add extra cheese in voids. Combine soup and water, pour over chicken. Toss the stuffing with its seasoning packet and sprinkle over chicken. Cook on Low 6-8 Hours or on High 3-4 Hours.
Variation: Use mozzarella or provolone cheese instead