what to cook during a kitchen renovation

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So, you’ve decided to toss your kitchen into a dumpster, hmmm?  Take out dinners getting redundant?  Nowhere to cook but the microwave?  Have no fear, fellow kitchen-ripper-outer compadre.  I know this feeling: “How does one cook during a kitchen renovation??”

October 26, 2019.  We begin the process of tossing our kitchen into a dumpster.  The stove gets shoved into storage, the cabinets are sold on Craigslist, and before we can say “demo” our entire first floor is without plumbing. 

6:00pm on day 1 rolls around and I wonder, HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE THIS CRAZY HOME RENOVATION???

Well, let’s be honest, on day 1 my mom bought pizza for the family at the end of the day.  Day 2 is when the rubber hit the road.

Here are my top ten basic anytime meals for your makeshift kitchen.  With ingredients from a moderately stocked pantry, plus some fresh produce or proteins, you can create a few balanced meals easier than you think!

This list is a jumping-off point to get your wheels turning for some go-to nourishment.


1. Rice + anything

Plug in your trusty rice cooker and get your grain on!  Style it how you like, rice can fill you up. There’s a reason it’s a staple in countries around the world. 

Give yourself extra points for veggies in the steamer basket – I often keep frozen bags of broccoli or green beans handy in the freezer for quick and easy greens. Make it quinoa + anything if you’re feeling bougie. 

My rice cooker is this one by Oster and has lasted over a decade!

what to cook during a kitchen remodel

2. Oatmeal

Listen, I understand that oatmeal has a long standing reputation as a breakfast food. But if you’re elbow-deep in a kitchen renovation, you get to mix and match however you like. If you want pasta with meatballs for breakfast or cereal for dinner, no one here is going to judge that decision.

I personally believe oatmeal is an anytime meal – add raisins for sweet, an egg for savory, or pistachios to get fancy. It sticks to your ribs and satiates the chill on a winter’s night.

Plus, in many cases, all you need to do is add hot water. A reno-recipe win if you ask me!

what to do during kitchen renovation

3. Toast

I mean, does girlfriend even need an explanation? Obvi we millennials will add avocado, but if the healthy-fat-filled over-exposed veg isn’t your deal, think of other options!

Coming from a long line of Irish immigrants, I personally prefer my toast with a bit of jam and a cuppa tea. Maybe you’re a plain-ol’-butter kind of guy. There’s always PB&J, all nice and melty gooey.

Whatever your toasty preference, it’s an easy fix when you have no kitchen.

what to cook during a kitchen renovation

4. Salad

Okay friends, be it known: Derek eats a lot of salad. Yes, as a model and former pro dancer, you’d think I’d be the salad lover. NOPE! Ya girl likes carbs on carbs, with a side of carbs. Hubby is the one who goes for a deep dive on the daily in a sea of crunchy veggies on a bed of spinach. We joke that he goes on an adventure when he makes a salad. Admittedly, he has been a good influence on me.

That little factoid is probably useless to you during your reno. Carry on.

Salads are easy though — all you need is a knife and a cutting board. You can probably purchase some pre-chopped ingredients from your local grocery store to make your kitchen-less life even easier!

Fasten your seatbelt and choose your own adventure, like the R.L. Stine books when we were in grade school.

what to eat during a kitchen renovation

5. Sandwiches

I know, I know, these can get boring. They’re not fancy, but you can get creative with the right ingredients!

My favorite tactic here is to peruse the menu of a local dining establish of which I am fond, then imitate their sandwich fare at home. My ingredients aren’t always quite as top notch, but it gives my taste buds a new flavor to savor – a treat when it seems like the kitchen reno just. won’t. end.

meals when you have no kitchen

6. Soups

You might be a canned soup person, or you might be a homemade soup person. Either way, these are a gold mine for comforting fare, particularly if you are working on your house during the wintertime.

Be it known – when you rip out half the walls in your house, specifically in New Jersey in the winter, things can get a wee bit drafty.

I am a fix-it-forget-it sort of person, so the crockpot was my bestie when I needed to cook during a kitchen renovation. I believe I was up to a soup per week when we were really rolling.

how to prepare for a kitchen remodel

7. Eggs

Ok, ok… microwaved eggs are a debatable issue. If that’s your thing, I am here to say we did it and it wasn’t so bad.

We also loved the toaster oven egg – but these do take a while, so it requires a little more patience and advance planning that we often had available for us.

The boiled egg was a big staple during our reno, though, particularly during a sweet coffee break!

how to survive kitchen remodel

8. Waffles

Why yes, I did keep my trusty waffle iron out during our reno, and why yes, I was really glad I did.

With a store bought, just-add-water pancake/waffle mix, all we needed was a mixing bowl and some toppings to have a whimsical breakfast every once in a while.

At this point in this post, you must be thinking – how long did you live without your kitchen? I am here to tell you it was months…. yes, months.

And waffles made those months feel just a wee bit shorter ;-).

easy meals for kitchen remodel

9. Bagels

Jersey girl here. There is no occasion for which a bagel is inappropriate. Full stop.

cooking without a kitchen

Hopefully these ideas will springboard your imagination into some useful ideas for meals to cook during a kitchen renovation! What are YOUR go-to meals for when your kitchen disappeared?

Happy cooking! -N


9 easy meals to make during your kitchen reno