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Reno starting - makeshift kitchen meal ideas!

38 replies

iwantabreakfastpantry · 25/03/2023 09:36

We are living in through our building works, which is starting on Monday.
Our front room will be our living room, kitchenette and we will use our dining table as the kitchen counter for prep, a single pan induction plate and a combi microwave.

So we are looking for essentially healthy, one pot, easy prep, low mess meals (who isn’t, I guess?!).
Both work full-time and then some. Two kids, 11 and 9y.
Veg or non-veg meals but not big pork, beef fans. Love fish but probably too stinky for a small space that we have to live, cook and eat in.

Would be very grateful for any recipes/meals that ticked all the boxes or pointers to websites!

OP posts:

Lightninginabox · 25/03/2023 12:39

If you look in Lidl they have instant pot versions. That would be a game changer as you can do stews, rice, baked potatoes veggies, turkey chili, cook a chicken in 30 mins, hard boiled eggs, curries etc etc.

microwave would be porridge, heating packet rice and ready meals mostly for me.


Lightninginabox · 25/03/2023 12:40

The benefit is that a lot of cooking smells also contained.


viktoria · 25/03/2023 12:41

We loved microwave rice when we couldn't use our kitchen


iwantabreakfastpantry · 25/03/2023 14:06

Thanks all, will definitely check out Lidl (I already a lazy microwave rice consumer!).

More suggestions welcome - we’ve got about long 8 months ahead of us

OP posts:

Caspianberg · 25/03/2023 14:17

Buy fresh ready made pasta sauce instead of homemade. Just less mess and prep and washing up in small space.
Pasta with a sauce, and a side salad, with some grated cheese on pasta is perfectly fine once a week.

Those fresh ready made supermarket soups.

ready meal curries

Is a combo oven a normal oven basically?
I would grill sausages or do burgers in pan in buns once a week also


Peekingovertheparapet · 25/03/2023 14:19

We did a huge renovation 3 years ago - no kitchen for 5 months etc. we had a single induction ring from ikea (£40) and a slow cooker which helped. But tbh we now have a ninja foodi multi thing and I’d really recommend something like that.


ranoutofquinoaandprosecco · 25/03/2023 15:14

Get a ninja 15 in 1, kept me sane when our kitchen was being done and I used it loads before and still do!


CasperGutman · 25/03/2023 16:44

During our extension work we used a slow cooker for soups, stews and slow cooking ribs, chicken wings etc (to finish on the barbecue, weather permitting). They're also really good for baked potatoes - follow the method at

A George Foreman type contact grill was also useful for things like veg (courgettes, peppers, aubergines, onions etc) and chicken. Serve with couscous and salad for an easy meal.

Slow Cooker Jacket Potatoes (Baked Potato)

Slow cooker jacket potatoes are the perfect side dish or main course! They're economical, easy to make, and so delicious. Follow our simple recipe and you'll have fluffy, tender potatoes in no time.


Drifta · 25/03/2023 17:00

Ready cooked salmon portions are good. They come in different sauces and you can serve hot or cold with carb and salad, over pasta or rice, anything really.

Give kids school dinners if you can and consider using bread as the carb for the main meal instead of the usual rice/pasta/noodles/potatoes. Use the combi function on your microwave - the biggest thing I remember missing was the crunch you get from oven baked chips or pizza.

One pot meals Cajun dirty rice, beef minchi, bubble and squeak, ramen, Chinese with straight-to-wok noodles, biryani.

btw a few old kitchen cabinets with doors removed make great storage in a temp kitchen area. Have a couple of washing up bowls that stack so you can have one for dirty/one for clean, one for washing/one for draining etc.


iwantabreakfastpantry · 25/03/2023 18:11

These are amazing tips - thank you
I pondered one of the ninja thingies, got a bit overwhelmed with the different versions and then forgot about them - will now revisit that idea!

OP posts:

iwantabreakfastpantry · 25/03/2023 18:14

Btw - are ninjas a type of instapot?

OP posts:

Peekingovertheparapet · 26/03/2023 15:40

Yea a bit like an instant pot, but the one that has an inbuilt air fryer. I can cook chips, grill things, roast a whole chicken, but also pressure cook


something2say · 26/03/2023 15:45

Got a gas camping stove and a microwave?
Microwave rice / or rice cooker
Chicken cooked on the frying pan on the gas
Salad veggies mixed in with rice
Or vegetables cooked on the stove

That's what I'd do.
It'll pass in no time - good luck!


CMOTDibbler · 26/03/2023 15:59

I feel your pain as our building works start on April 3rd and the back of the house is coming off. We have an 8 in 1 slow cooker/ rice cooker/ other settings thing and it is brilliant, also an air fryer for anything that would normally go in the oven or be fried. Between those, the microwave and an electric hob thing I think we will be pretty good.
Things like a chilli can be made in the slow cooker, then reheated on the hob while rice is in the rice cooker (also contains the smell) or you can do fish in the air fryer, even popping it outside on an extension lead if it isn't raining.
Fresh pasta cooks super fast, or gnocchi and if you have a food flask or wide mouthed flask you can keep a sauce hot while cooking


Taptap2 · 26/03/2023 16:01

We survived with an instant pot and air fryer. Both used much more than microwave. In the instant pot you can do one pot pasta meals cooking the pasta and sauce together.


Badger1970 · 26/03/2023 16:02

We had a few gas camping stoves which worked well, and bought a cheap convection microwave that could be used as an oven. Together with the toaster and airfryer, we managed really well but luckily we were able to use our conservatory as a kitchen. It was the washing up in the bath that nearly killed me....


DeathMetalMum · 26/03/2023 16:10

We make burritos using one hob and the microwave. Dp's recipe but 500g pork mince, grated carrot, onions, pepper and sweetcorn, some seasoning (maybe fajhita seasoning I'm not 100% sure) pasatta and add one sachets of micro rice. Serve with wraps and salad - this does two servings for four of us.


iwantabreakfastpantry · 26/03/2023 18:45

Amazing - thanks all very much for the suggestions, links, sympathy, empathy and solidarity!

OP posts:

Crazymadchickenlady · 27/03/2023 11:35

We did about three months with no kitchen. 8 months sounds like hell! We did a lot of toasties in the George Foreman grill/panini maker, had a two ring induction plug in hob which was great (so pasta and sauces were easy to make), bought ready meals from M&S (the ready made mash is really nice), used the instant pot a lot for stews etc. It was doable but not great! Washing up in the bath is also really annoying! Luckily we had the washer and dryer in the utility which was up and running for most of it.


Crazymadchickenlady · 27/03/2023 11:38

Oh and we kept the dining table to eat at moved into the lounge and put the garden table into the lounge as well with the microwave, toaster, kettle etc on it. We also got a big camping water bottle thing with a tap to fill the kettle from rather than keep going up to the bathroom. Kettle wouldn't fit under the downstairs loo sink tap.


CC4712 · 27/03/2023 11:44

I've just done similar and with a single hob- you'll need a steamer to maximise what you can cook/heat at once.

George Home Stainless Steel 3 Tier Steamer - ASDA Groceries

In the water at the bottom, put those frozen fish pieces with sauce that come in a bag and get boiled. Then add veg into the steamer bits at the top. Young's 4 Cod Steaks in Parsley Sauce - ASDA Groceries

We also had a slow cooker and an electric frypan. Quest 40cm Multifunction Electric Cooker | Robert Dyas The electric frypan was really handy for a large stir fry, paella, biriyani etc.


CC4712 · 27/03/2023 11:46

As a side note- ensure everything in the house is put into crates with lids or sealed somehow. Even by doing this- dust will get absolutely everywhere. Ideally- move things to a garage or somewhere else to store.


iwantabreakfastpantry · 28/03/2023 11:02

Thanks so much for the tips - hugely appreciate it.
We have just moved into our front room. The builders have repurposed some of our old kitchen to create a (very) small temp kitchen there with a sink (yay!) and washing machine (I nearly kissed him when he told me). Waiting for the plumbing to be sorted and so currently washing our dishes in the bathroom - thanks to the pp for the top tip about clean and dirty washing bowls!

We have borrowed our neighbours instapot thing and I will have an experiment with it when I feel less exhausted - again, thanks to PPs for the suggestion. Currently, working our way through our freezer stock of food supplemented by the odd microwave meal. Boiled eggs on a borrowed portable induction hob - mind blowing how quickly the water starts to bubble.

OP posts:

Notyetthere · 28/03/2023 14:26

We are going to buy a ninja 15 in 1. Does everything - slow cook, air fry and pressure cook. No need for other gadgets taking up space. When we start our extension, we shall also get the single induction hob (ikea one apparently is great). We have the microwave so it will be those three gadgets.

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