Cooking without a kitchen

Matt and I usually eat pretty healthy. I don’t eat meat and since we’ve been living and cooking meals together Matt tends to eat vegetarian fairly often now too just out of convenience. (That’s not to say we don’t have days where one of us yells “I just want a burger!” Ok, maybe we both yell that at times…)

With the kitchen completely torn out and the stove sitting in the middle of the living room it’s become a little difficult to cook meals in the house. Our neighborhood also leads out to a main road with almost every fast food place we could desire. When those things combine it’s like the fast food perfect storm and we’ve been eating way more junk than we intended or wanted to this week.

So I had the idea to make some meals ahead of time, freeze them and then warm them up as we needed them, but with the stove sitting in the living room they would all have to be slow cooker meals. I spent some time searching for a handful of vegetarian slow cooker meals or meals that I could prepare as vegetarian by using imitation meat.

I wrote out each of the recipes (BBQ “chicken” and vegetables, honey garlic “chicken,” ratatouille, mango “chicken” curry, no-noodle vegetable lasagna, quinoa corn chowder and a cheese tortellini dish) and then made my grocery list. I even separated my grocery list into sections, like produce, frozen foods, canned goods, etc. Yeah, I was not kidding around with this whole slow cooker thing. But actually I found that separating my list like that was really helpful and I might just do that from now on while shopping.

(As you can tell this post is a little lacking in pictures. I neglected to take any pictures yesterday, so sadly you don’t get to see what my super organized grocery list looked like. And yes, I most definitely would have taken a picture of it had I thought of it at the time.)

After I had stocked up on all the foods I needed I went to my brother’s apartment to prepare all the meals. I used 1-gallon freezer bags and labeled the outside with the type of meal, the cooking setting and time and any other directions. (Some meals were recommended to be thawed first and some recommended adding a certain ingredient toward the end.)

Then I just spent several hours chopping, dicing and mincing food until my hands were about to fall off. There were some other logistical things I decided on, like not adding sauces or liquids to the bags. Once all the vegetables and other foods were added the bags were almost full and I still had to transport them back to the house. The last thing I wanted was spaghetti sauce or vegetable stock all over my floor mats. Instead I just labeled the jars and cans with what recipe they correspond to and set them aside for now.

Not all of my cooking ventures are successful, but everything went according to plan yesterday and our freezer is now filled with at least a week of dinners, although I’m sure it will last us longer than that. So, if there’s anyone out there that needs some tips while renovating their kitchen (although I am pretty positive I know everyone who reads this blog) I would definitely suggest going the slow-cooker/frozen recipe route. Or actually, if you’re stove doesn’t end up in your living room you could also do casseroles and other dishes that can be heated up in the oven too.

Hopefully you guys made it all the way through a post without any pictures! Remember, I’m still new at this blogging thing, but I’ll try to remember to snap some pictures with whatever I’m doing from now on.

I wasn’t the only one busy yesterday, obviously. Matt and his uncle and his parents were here all day working on the electrical. They got a ton accomplished, including running a new line for the stove, figuring out and planning where all the switches are going to be, placing all the outlets, etc. They also decided to hire an electrician to take care of some things – like I said before, the electrical in the house makes no sense. They are still finishing some stuff up this morning and may be ready to start sheetrocking this afternoon! Very exciting!

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5 thoughts on “Cooking without a kitchen

  1. That is wonderful. You are so resourceful. I was thinking of making a few casseroles when I get home to bring to you. But looks like you have it all under control. Anything at all you guys need, let me know.

  2. so creative! with mike starting up baseball, he doesn’t get home until 6:30 or so. and if the team has a game and i go (which is do almost all of the time, because no parents go, so i’m the sole fan), neither of us gets home until 7ish, so slow cookers are the way to go!! i make chili, pulled pork, and lasagna is there all the time!
    just think! after all of your creative cooking you’ll have a fabulous new kitchen to be even MORE creative with! exciting!!

  3. I really love the idea of chopping up each slow cooker meal ahead of time and writing all the important info on the bag before you freeze it. Whenever I try to “plan ahead” with slow cooker meals, I end up doing all of the chopping and prep the morning of, and then I’m rushed and usually end up being late for work (oh darn!). That’s a really good tip for any weeknight meal, not just when your kitchen is … well not a kitchen. haha Thanks for sharing that useful tip!

  4. PS – I use an app on my (Android) phone called “Shopping List” to keep my grocery list organized by sections in the store. Once you type in the item, it stays in your list for future use, but you can check it off once you grab it. Super helpful and then you don’t waste paper making new lists every week. I’m sure iPhone has something similar. Plus, I always have my phone on me, so it’s easy to add stuff to the list whenever I think of it.

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