Cooking without a kitchen and an Update


I’ve had many comments asking how the kitchen remodel is going so I thought I would catch you up on the progress (and thank you so much for asking!).  Well, we’re getting there.  My kitchen was torn out on August 20 and it looks like we’ll be able to move back in around September 27. Not soon enough for me!  All of the old wiring and plumbing has been replaced and brought up to code, the floor was torn out through the subfloor which has been replaced and prepped for the marmoleum flooring, the plaster walls have been repaired and painted, and, as you can see, the cabinets have been installed (almost).  The template has been made for the countertops which are a quartz composite product but we haven’t heard when they will be installed. Hopefully, they’ll be installed along with the backsplash before the 24th because that’s when the flooring is going down. Appliances on the 26th and we’re done!

When we looked at this house 14 years ago, one of the things that sold ME on the house was the size of the kitchen and that it was open to the den. My kitchen at the time (and for the previous 21 years) was a one person kitchen with so little countertop and space that my prep was done at the kitchen table. When I saw this kitchen, I didn’t care that it was a 50’s kitchen with 38 inch counter heights (not a good height for a 5′ 2″ cook) – it had counter space and lots of possibility! So fast forward 14 years later and in less than 3 weeks, those possibilities will be realized.

Cooking without a kitchen

From some of the comments in my previous post, it is apparent that there are others out there about to remodel their kitchens.  Therefore, I thought I would share how we are surviving this inconvenience.  I’ll admit right up front that it is easier to deal with  logistically than it is mentally! 🙂

Most of our meals have been cooked on the grill or not cooked at all.  We kept the old microwave to warm things up and to heat my water for tea.  The grill has acted as both a grill and an oven at times, and our old Coleman camping stove allows us to heat up tortillas and cook eggs and pasta.  We could probably use the camping stove for more “cooking” but then we have to consider the cleanup.  Washing dishes in the bathtub is the biggest “inconvenience” to be honest; therefore, we try our best to minimize the amount of dishes used as well as the mess.  Here is how we prepared for the remodel and what we are eating.


  • Weeks before the remodel started I made several jars of refrigerator jam (e.g., apricot, strawberry, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb, kiwi-jalapeno)
  • Every time I made pizza during June/July, I made enough dough for two pizzas, freezing half the dough.  By the time we started the remodel there were three pizza doughs in the freezer.
  • Remember those two batches of vegetarian tamales?  I froze enough for three meals.
  • Roasted several red bell peppers on the grill, peeled and froze.  Have been using them in salads and on pizzas.
  • Made pesto and froze 5 serving size containers (thanks to my SIL for the basil!)
  • The night before the remodel started I made a large pot of rice for the fridge.

Eating Out

During the remodel we have been eating out more than our usual twice a month. So far it’s been a couple of times a week – a lunch and a dinner. Each time we go out, we think “leftovers”, and bring home leftovers for another lunch. Below are some of the meals we’ve been eating thus far.


  • Whole grain cereal with fresh fruit (our standard breakfast)
  • Raisin and Walnut sweet tamales with yogurt maple sauce (The tamales were dessert tamales that I made during the holidays last year and still had a few left in the freezer.  I found them when I cleaned out the freezer before moving the refrigerator.  Gotta love those surprises!)
  • Irish bacon, with scrambled eggs, toast and jam (Cooked on Coleman camping stove – a must during a remodel)
  • Artisan cinnamon rolls with honeydew melon (a real treat!)
  • New Mexico Christmas breakfast


  • Leftover pasta primavera that I made prior to the start of the remodel
  • Frozen meal of Tandoor Chef Palak Paneer served over leftover rice (The one and only frozen dinner that we like.)
  • Cucumber crostini
  • Watermelon
  • Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches
  • Yogurt w/ granola and fruit
  • Honeydew cucumber soup (recipe coming soon!) with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Not another Waldorf Salad by Beyond the Peel – YUM! (I did use Gorgonzola instead of Blue cheese because that’s what I had)
  • Leftovers from eating out and from dinners
  • Tortilla Egg Sandwich


  • Black bean and fish tostadas made from leftovers on one of our lunches out.  Used a ready-made tostada shell and topped the beans and fish with cheese, salsa, chopped tomatoes, black olives, onion and lettuce.
  • Grilled Lamb chops topped with kiwi-jalapeno jam, grilled corn on the cob, strawberry-tomato salad. (made enough for a lunch)
  • Smoked salmon and cucumber onion salad
  • Green Salad variation of smoked salmon and cucumber onion salad – added lettuce, boiled eggs and feta
  • Leftover roast chicken from eating out, massaged kale and mango salad (omitted the pepitas), Caprese salad
  • Grilled veggie pizza made with freezer dough, cheese, and fresh veggies (chopped tomatoes, onions, roasted bell peppers from the freezer, and basil)
  • Stacked Vegetables en papillote
  • Leftover pizza with a simple watermelon salad
  • Grilled ribeye steaks with onion and squash (layered the onion and squash in foil with some salt, pepper, thyme and a drizzle of garlic infused oil, sealed it up and placed it on the grill with the steaks. It cooked perfectly!)
  • Pasta with chopped heirloom tomatoes, basil, cheese, and a few other ingredients (made enough for 2 meals)
  • Green chile cheese burgers with carrot and raisin salad (made enough for 2 meals)
  • Steak salad with a leftover ribeye cooked previously
  • Chicken shish-kabobs with bell pepper/onion and grilled sweet corn (Adapted Manu’s Chicken Tikka 2nd marinade for the chicken using the seasoning that I had and could find. Loved it!)
  • Freezer dive – Sliced turkey breast, cranberry pecan dressing topped with sauteed apples, and sliced tomato as a side.
  • Grilled pesto pizza with fresh veggie toppings and cheese
  • Red chile enchiladas (red chile sauce from the freezer)
  • Refrigerator clean-out Southwestern Casserole – chipotle pinto beans (from freezer) topped with black olives, yogurt, cheese, carnitas, onion and pepper, grilled corn (all leftover items) – heated in the microwave and topped with fresh tomatoes.
  • Grilled marinated chicken breast with apple, cucumber, radish, Gorgonzola salad
  • Fennel Infused Onions (used fresh herbs from the garden – lemon thyme, tarragon)
  • Parchment grilled Potatoes (layers of thin sliced potatoes, roasted bell pepper, feta, garlic infused oil, salt and pepper)

I’ll be updating this list of meals during the next 3 weeks, then the reveal – hopefully!!!  🙂

Houdi will certainly be glad when it’s all over.  He is a little freaked out right now.



53 Responses to “Cooking without a kitchen and an Update”

  1. Food Jaunts September 22, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    It’s shaping up fabulously! We’re buying our first home in April *fingers crossed* and that’s where I’m at 🙂 With our budget I won’t be getting my ‘dream’ kitchen but as long as it has space and the possibility I’ll deal with it. Love all the great ideas you’ve had lol, never thought of needing to do dishes in the bathtub during a remodel!

  2. Sylvia@Peaches and Donuts September 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Oh Wow! It’s coming along nicely and I can’t wait to see it when it’s done!

  3. mj September 17, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    After nothing happening last week (very frustrating!), the countertops are going in today and hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have a backsplash and some of the other work finished. Next Monday – flooring! Almost there! Thanks everyone for your support and best wishes!

  4. Raymund September 17, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Your kitchen looks nice, few more weeks you will be back there. I know the feeling getting excited to use a new kitchen

  5. vianney September 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I can’t wait to see the finished kitchen~~

  6. Lori Lynn September 16, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    How exciting for you! It certainly is an adventure, but you seem very well organized. Cannot wait to see the finished room!

  7. Zsuzsa September 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    And soon you will have a beautiful space to create! What a lovely kitchen!

  8. Baker Street September 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Wow MJ! I’m in awe! How are you managing this long without a kitchen! It seems to be coming along beautifully. Can’t wait to see once its finally done up. 🙂

  9. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious September 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    It must be tough without a kitchen but it also looks like you planned way ahead! I totally need to save this for the time when I get a house and remodel my kitchen 🙂

  10. Viviane Bauquet Farre September 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Wonderful woodwork, MJ! You must be so excited as the work proceeds! A shrine in the works!

  11. Amanda@chewtown September 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    It looks wonderful already! I love the space you have and are insanely jealous. Good luck for the rest of the renovation.

  12. kitchenriffs September 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Houdi is a cutie! And thanks for the pictures of your kitchen – I was wondering how it was going. I’ve not heard of marmoleum, but I think that’s exactly the right sort of product for a kitchen floor. We’ve had expensive tile ones (have one now, actually – it was there when we moved in), and although they look nice, stuff breaks when you drop it! Next time we need to replace a kitchen floor (bathroom, too) that’s the direction we’re going. Sounds like you’re going to have a really nice space when it’s all done. and I’ve also been wondering how you were eating, so thanks for telling us abut that, too!

    • mj September 13, 2012 at 2:11 am #

      Thanks John! Your first sentence is funny because I’m always calling him “cutie Houdi”. 🙂 Interesting about the tile floors. I had a lot people ask if I was going to have tile floors, and in some cases, they were even recommended. I never even considered it because of the “unforgiving” part. You drop, it breaks. We did consider hardwood to match the rest of the house, but too expensive and that would have been way too much “wood” in the kitchen.

  13. Debra September 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Good grief! You certainly plan ahead. You must be super organized. I know I would be getting take out or eating out if my kitchen was being remodeled.

    I am getting some great ideas for prepping weekday meals from your list above.

    I can’t wait to see the after pictures.

    • mj September 13, 2012 at 2:05 am #

      Thanks Debra! This is the second home that we have gone through and done a complete remodel to while living in it, so I’ve had some practice in being organized. 🙂

  14. Vicki Bensinger September 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    We did our kitchen back is ’96 and it seemed like it took forever but we’ve been so pleased with it as you will be just as soon as it’s done. Plus you’ll find new things that inspire you to cook even more and be more creative.

    As for the limoncello, I purchased my bottles as well at World Market. They had 2 sizes, small and large, mine are the large bottles, they were $6,.99. That was a fun project.

  15. Dara September 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    I am so excited for you! I am currently house shopping and am appalled by the kitchens I’m finding. Apparently if you want it done right you have to do it yourself. Good luck and can’t wait to see the final reveal!

    • mj September 13, 2012 at 1:59 am #

      Thanks Dara! I agree! When we were shopping for a new house 14 years ago, it was hard to find a house with a decent kitchen. It makes me wonder if people cook anymore.

  16. CJ at Food Stories September 12, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    I loved this post, MJ. What an insight into what you’re dealing with. Honestly, this reminded me of my travelling days. I used to be a mobile portrait photographer and I would travel all over the US taking pictures of babies. I lived out of my van and hotels so I carried “stuff” with me. I had one of those coolers you could plug into your cigarette lighter for a fridge, mini coffee pot & a hot plate. Those were the days 🙂

    • mj September 13, 2012 at 2:00 am #

      Thanks CJ! I can’t imagine living out of a van and hotels for very long! Six weeks of this and I’ll be done! 🙂

  17. peachkins September 12, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    Your kitchen is turning out beautifully!!!

  18. Nami | Just One Cookbook September 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Yay! I was waiting for this post, and thanks for sharing the progress! What a beautiful kitchen! With appliances, it will look fabulous! I can’t wait to see the final photo!!! It’s tough to live without the kitchen and I don’t know how I can do it… Good luck and hang in there… just focus on the final kitchen image… 🙂

  19. Shannon | Just As Delish September 11, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Thanks for the great tips! would need this tips when I remodel my kitchen in future. salute you for being so determined to have homecooked food without a kitchen.

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      Thanks Shannon! It’s hard eating healthy when you eat out a lot, so I was determined to have as many homecooked meals as possible.

  20. Anne@FromMySweetHeart September 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    MJ….looking good!!! You must have the patience of a saint….and I am amazed at all the planning and prep you did! That was so smart! I am so looking forward to seeing your new counters! I wish I could do it all over again, because when I had my kitchen done 17 or so years ago….I wasn’t so much into cooking. And I’m only 5′ 2″ too! And I wish my 36 inch counters were lower! Thanks for updating us and keep hanging in there! : )

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

      Thanks Anne! It did take some planning but it was worth it because we’re not having to eat out a lot and yet we’re still eating well. Bobby’s not complaining – yet. 🙂 Actually, he’s been doing most of the cooking because the grill has been quite busy and he is my grillmaster. 🙂

  21. ping September 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    That looks like it’s gonna be a lovely kitchen to be working in. I have a similar sized kitchen now but we’re thinking of moving into a smaller place in the future. I know the first thing I’m going to miss is my kitchen. I guess I’d better dance around my kitchen (according to Sissi) while I can!
    Those are great preparations, MJ! Such a well organized person you are.

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      Thanks Ping! I couldn’t imagine moving back to a smaller kitchen. This one has really spoiled me. 🙂 Good luck finding a new place with that perfect kitchen. My last kitchen was quite small, but well organized so it was still fun working in it.

  22. LIz September 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Your kitchen will be FABULOUS! I wish I had all your tips when we redid ours over 15 years ago…such a great resource 🙂

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Thanks Liz!

  23. Joanna @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats September 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Loving you new kitchen. Looks so good even though its not done up yet. Can’t wait to check up on your progress. Till then, have a wonderful week ahead!!!

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      Thanks Joanna!

  24. Sissi September 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Mj, your kitchen looks already extraordinary, so I cannot even imagine how marvellous the final result will be. This kitchen is sooooo big… You will be able to dance while preparing the dinner 😉 Thank you for sharing with us the renovation photo and thank you for the useful tips. I think I will print them for next time I will be renovating the kitchen (I once did it and still remember how difficult it was to have home-made meals at the time….). I would just have to cross out the grill… Unless one day I move into a house of course!

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

      Thanks Sissi! I’m already dancing around the kitchen! 🙂

  25. Javelin Warrior September 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Love this post, MJ! Thanks for sharing photo of the kitchen-in-progress and I love the color of cabinets you’ve chosen – so light! And I bet you’re just itching to get back in and start using all the new surfaces… I know I was when we did ours.

    I also love the helpful tips on how you’re surviving without a kitchen. You’re doing a lot better and I did when I was without out. We ate out WAAAAAY too much and even though there was some food in the freezer, we really didn’t use much of it 😉 I can’t wait to see the final version of the kitchen and I hope you’ll share photos…

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      Thanks JW! You’re right – I can’t wait! The closer it gets the more antsy I get. I will be posting before and after photos once it’s done! I promised Bobby that I would do the best I could to clean out the freezer during the remodel. We don’t want to have to move the contents all over again! 🙂

  26. wok with ray September 11, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Oh yeah, I’ve been there before and it’s not easy without a kitchen. I like the lighter color of the cabinets. You have a few entry of natural lights there – Nice! I can’t wait for the tops to come in and the appliances especially that counter top stove with large burners. 🙂

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Thanks Ray! Yes – there is a large skylight in the middle of the kitchen that was already there when we bought the house. Then a SW facing sunroom provides the light coming in through the window. Needless to say, I only turn on the lights at night. 🙂 BTW – I love you new gravatar!!!

  27. Angie@Angie's Recipes September 11, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    You have a HUGE kitchen!

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      I’ve been waiting for someone to point that out! 🙂 Yes, it is HUGE, about 4 times as big as my last kitchen. But there is a problem with a huge kitchen – it allows you to make a bigger mess! 🙂

  28. Amber @ The Cook's Sister September 11, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Wow, your kitchen is looking amazing MJ! I’m sure the inconvenience now will seem worth worth it when you’re working in your gorgeous renovated kitchen!

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks Amber!!

  29. Sanjeeta kk September 11, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    The kitchen looks so bright and airy, MJ….am sure you are gonna love cooking and staying more in kitchen thereafter 🙂 I like that rustic chair Houdi is sitting on. Warm hugs.

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks Sanjeeta! I think I’ll be able to enjoy it. 🙂

  30. Nads September 11, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I LOVE YOUR CABINETS! They are beautiful. Is that going to be the final color or are they going to be stained? I like what they are now; it makes the kitchen so light and bright, and you know I love a light bright kitchen. And you now have tons of storage. I know you are going to love that. Really smart idea with so many drawers. I wish I had more of them in my kitchen instead of the long reach to the back of the cabinets. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks Darlin! The cabinets are a natural maple and we’re going to leave them that way. I didn’t want dark and Bobby didn’t want white, so this was a great compromise. With the addition of the island and new pantry, I will have TONS of storage! I fought the drawers at first, but between Bobby, Su Anne and the cabinet guy I was persuaded that was the way to go. I think I’m going to like them better than pullout shelves.

  31. Giulietta | Alterkitchen September 11, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Cooking without a kitchen… amazing! You’re simply amazing 🙂

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks Sweetheart!! 🙂

  32. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) September 11, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    You poor thing! It seems like you’re coping well and I’m sure the new kitchen will be gorgeous

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      Thanks Kayle! Knowing what the outcome will be, makes coping a lot easier!

  33. Nava Krishnan September 11, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Great info and the next time I have to do-up my kitchen, I will certainly consider all those you have shared. I just re-modeled my kitchen 3 years ago and during this time, it was eating out because we don’t have much space outdoor. The contractor managed to finish the job on time and I was back into my new kitchen.

    • mj September 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      Thanks Nava! I have to consider myself lucky to have a backyard and a sunroom big enough to set up a small kitchenette. It really has made things easier and less expensive than eating out all of the time – although that is quite tempting. 🙂


  1. Kitchen Remodel - Before & After | MJ's Kitchen - November 12, 2012

    […] To see how we cooked and what we ate without a kitchen, click here. […]

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