how to survive a kitchen renovation

How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation With Just One Small Appliance

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Welcome back to our two family house! Today we’ve got a sweet round-up for you. We are talking how to survive a kitchen renovation with ONE magical small appliance.

That’s it! Just one.

If you’re doing a kitchen renovation, please know that you’re going to want to eat! And takeout gets old, fast.

When we renovated our first floor kitchen, we moved it contents to a sweet temporary kitchen in the basement.

With limited time and limited tools, we discovered that small appliances would be clutch.

The small appliance that constantly saved the day?

The rice cooker.

The Backstory

Why on earth would a girl with the name Noreen be giving you advice regarding a rice cooker?

Well, my personal introduction to the rice cooker was thanks to the 2006 annual family Christmas White Elephant.

Over the years, my family had entered some wildly creative gifts into this $50-max-grab-bag. For example: the “feel better basket” (you know, cough drops, lemon juice, whiskey…), the “party in your pants” (New Year’s party supplies, all wrapped up nicely in a pair of old jeans), and the shake weight (which my Grandmom unwrapped and humorously did not understand was fitness equipment…).  

At Christmas 2006, there were delightful presents like garden gnomes, $50 of lotto tickets, coffee mugs with gift cards, and wine + chocolate.  My cousins were making fun of my lethargic opening of a gift, only to find a handsome set of ceramic knives beneath the wrapping.  Jeers turned into “oohs and ahs” right quick.  

I was holding strong to my fancy knives – after all, a college student with a kitchen could use something besides dollar-store-blades!

But at the last second, for the ultimate trade, in the final hurrah of the 2006 White Elephant Christmas gift exchange, someone swiped my golden goose and plopped a small appliance in my lap.

A rice cooker.


“Who even uses a rice cooker?” I thought.  

Well, apparently my Grandmom did.  

“Now, love, don’t be upset, that’s really a wonderful gift.  Just put the rice in, some veggies in the basket on top, heat up some meat, and walla, you got your dinner.”


Begrudgingly, I shoved this foreign appliance into my folks’ trunk, had another drink, and toasted to another silly White Elephant.  

I returned to my college digs to discover… my Grandmom wasn’t wrong.  

In fact, a rice cooker is A GAME CHANGER!  

It requires one sole outlet, cleans up easily, and turns off automatically!

Plus, a rice cooker can make way more than plain rice with veggies.

Not to mention, 16 years later, my humble rice cooker is still running strong. Here’s a link to the exact one I have.

Now that you have the backstory behind my love affair with the rice cooker, let’s explore some of the internet’s most creative uses of this small appliance.

The Recipes You Need to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

If you want to know how to survive a kitchen renovation with one appliance, these recipes will keep you from boredom!


Did you know? You can cook quinoa in your rice cooker.

Bintu at Recipes from a Pantry explains the play by play in her post, How to Cook Quinoa in Rice Cooker.

Guys, this is so simple, so nutritious, and so helpful when you are looking to change up your grain game during a kitchen renovation.


I know they aren’t fancy, but if you’re wondering how to survive a kitchen renovation, basics like beans will be a life saver!

Rebecca at Strength and Sunshine provides a how-to on making dried beans in a rice cooker – and discloses her secret ingredient for keeping post-bean-bloat at bay.

Say what?? You can keep fed during a kitchen renovation without obliterating your digestive tract? Yep. Check it out!

Fried Onions

Admittedly, I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks so interesting I just have to share. Melanie Cooks has a creative take on Fried Onions in a Rice Cooker.

Since we didn’t keep a frying pan or hot plate in our makeshift kitchen, we muddled through our kitchen renovation without the delicious smell of fried onions for months.

It sure would have been nice to have this basic ingredient at our fingertips!

how to cook without a kitchen
credit: Melanie Cooks

Boiled Eggs

Eggs are a staple here at our two family house, and we’d have been lost without them during our kitchen renovation.

While it’s possible to bake eggs in a toaster oven, we didn’t often have the time or patience for it, and microwave eggs are just… suspicious.

Enter: the hard-boiled egg.

Did you know? That handy steamer basket on your rice cooker is just the tool you need to make them, even if you’re mid-renovation.

A Day in the Kitchen has a great tutorial on how to make boiled eggs in your rice cooker.

Note – this may take some trial and error on cooking time to achieve your personal preferred boiled-ness.


If you take on your kitchen renovation during the winter, you might enjoy a nice hot soup to get you through.

The fine folks at Livestrong have an instructional on how to cook soup safely in your rice cooker!

This is especially optimal if you forgot to put your soup in the slow cooker that morning. (Ask me how I know).

how to survive a kitchen renovation
A delightfully powerful little machine!

Banana Bread

Guys. Can you imagine: you’re on day 6,257 of your kitchen renovation (this is also known as day 3), and suddenly you smell the familiar comfort of banana bread baking?

It’s possible! And, with just your rice cooker. Have a look at this incredibly creative recipe from Bless My Food by Payal!

Let me know when you’ve got the banana bread steaming, and I’ll be right over for a slice.

Get your printable kitchen renovation planner here!

Final Thoughts on How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

You now know how to survive a kitchen renovation with just one small appliance. Use that rice cooker to the Nth degree!

Since you’re fully armed and ready with your rice cooker, what creative uses of this mighty small appliance will you try?

Like our approach? Planning a full-out renovation? Check out our Ultimate Home Renovation Survival Guide for more helpful tips!

what to eat during kitchen renovation

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