Kitchen Renovation Survival Guide
You'd think living without a kitchen for nine months would mean night after night of TV dinners, but a couple of savvy TOH readers cooked up a better plan
Who: Alan and Joni Horton
Where: Yucaipa, Calif.
What: Made dinner almost every night without so much as a stove.
My contractor husband, Alan, and I love to cook, but the kitchen in our 1950s ranch could barely fit two people. When
we finally decided to remodel, Alan told me I'd be without the space for three months, tops. Was that wishful thinking!
The renovation took triple the time. Even so, we rarely ate frozen meals—and we only went out for dinner a few times. Here's what I learned along the way.
So little room forced me to think creatively. I turned our dining room into a kitchen, hooking up the old fridge and using the dining table and a dresser as countertops. Dry goods were kept in a plastic storage bin. We used the bathroom sink to wash dishes. If that was too small for the job at hand, we cleaned them in a big pot of water.
Though I didn't whip up elaborate meals, most were home-cooked. A Crock-Pot let me fix dishes like pot roast, chili, and chicken alfredo, and made it possible to keep out only a few pots and pans. I also had a toaster oven, microwave, and electric skillet. We ate a lot of salad and fresh fruit because they were easy to prepare.
Constantly having to think about what I could cook with limited equipment was tough. Even making spaghetti posed a challenge since I couldn't boil a pot of water. I tried it a few nights, but it took ages heating up the water in the microwave a little at a time. So I wrote shopping lists of foods that worked best for us, like rotisserie chicken, and bought them often.
Most mornings, I would start dinner before leaving for work. And many weekends, I would make pancakes or bacon and eggs on the electric skillet. Creating that kind of schedule made the time go by much quicker.
Believe it or not, we had friends over for dinner and to play cards numerous times. It wasn't fancy and took a lot of energy, but I was amazed that we entertained at all. Spending time with people we cared about helped us forget the awful chaos in the kitchen. Looking back, I also would have made time to go on a vacation once the renovation was complete. I sure needed it!