The Best Meals to Make Without an Oven
Your oven will be out of commission during your kitchen remodeling. What to do?
Your kitchen will be out of commission for the duration of your kitchen remodeling project, so it’s important to start thinking about how your family will eat during this time, which may last from several days to several weeks (depending on how active Murphy’s Law is in your neck of the woods).
Naturally, you could plan on either eating out or taking the all-takeout route during the remodeling period, but either of these two courses of action can become expensive. A more frugal approach to the problem relies on making oven-less meals in the temporary (temp) kitchen you set up to handle the cooking load.
Making the most of your temp kitchen
Temp kitchens can be set up in any room of your house, but they’re often set up in a room adjacent to your existing kitchen. If you go this route, make sure that this room is sealed off from any construction dust that might drift in using a clear plastic drop cloth as a barrier. The most critical item in the temp kitchen will be a refrigerator. If it’s possible to move your existing refrigerator into the temp kitchen room, do it; if not, buy or rent a small unit. Having access to a functioning fridge will open many meal options beyond canned goods/dry goods-based meals, of which you’ll quickly tire.
Beyond a fridge, you’ll need to improvise some counter space (often a simple card table will do for this) to host a few other must-have items that you’ll use to heat or prepare food: a microwave, toaster oven, blender, and/or crock pot. Because it will be difficult or impossible for you to use your kitchen sink or dishwasher to clean anything, rely on plastic plates, cups, and utensils. Ensure your smoke detector is functioning and that you have a fire extinguisher handy. Fire extinguishers are “must-have” items in any kitchen and are especially important if you plan cooking in a room that’s not ordinarily used as a kitchen.
Hot oven-less meals
The easiest way to generate hot meals without relying on your trusty oven is to choose a meal from the amazing variety of prepared frozen meals available from your local supermarket, and simply heat it up in your microwave. Unfortunately, this option isn’t the most budget-friendly one, nor is it necessarily the healthiest one. However, the microwave isn’t just for heating up prepared food. BuzzFeed has an excellent compendium of dishes – some quite exotic – that your microwave oven can handle.
Then there’s the toaster oven, an astonishingly versatile appliance for which there are many recipes available online. Check out Greatist’s 60 Meals You Didn’t Know You Could Make in a Toaster Oven for inspiration. Also, don’t ignore the gustatory potential of the slow-cooking crockpot, which BuzzFeed and Pinterest both cover in encyclopedic detail.
Two important safety caveats apply here. If you’re planning on using any of the electrical appliances mentioned above in your temp kitchen, make sure that you’re not going to overload your temp kitchen room’s electrical system. Check out your circuit breakers in advance (15-20 amp breakers will likely be adequate for non-simultaneous use of most electrical appliances), and also make sure that any surfaces that get hot (for example, the outside surfaces of toaster ovens) are separated from any furniture or other items that could be damaged by this heat, or worse, create a fire hazard.
Cold oven-less meals
Hot meals are a great pleasure, but your kitchen remodeling project –plus the arrival of hot weather – creates a perfect pretext for exploring the universe of cold meals that completely eschew cooking. Martha Stewart provides 36 no-cook summertime recipes, several of which utilize the trusty kitchen blender, and Southern Living serves up another 54. Try to stick with recipes that require a minimum of cutting or chopping – after all, you’ll be slicing and dicing on a surface that’s much less spacious and sturdy than your new kitchen countertops will be!
The outdoor option
Not everybody is lucky enough to enjoy a yard equipped with a grill, but if you happen to be in this position, your kitchen redesign project provides you and your family an ideal opportunity to enjoy the great pleasures of outdoor cooking. Don’t make the mistake of believing that your grill cuisine is limited to burgers, franks, ribs, and corn on the cob: Country Living has more than 50 great creative recipes for summer cookouts to get you started. So invite the neighbors, clink a glass, and create some unforgettably delicious “camping at home” memories for the kids!