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Surviving Without a Kitchen During Your Remodel

Whether you're doing a small remodel or a big renovation, living without a kitchen can be hectic,
crazy and expensive. And eating out every night could end up blowing your remodeling budget.
But if you plan and prepare, you can survive, thrive and even have fun while waiting for your new
kitchen to be done.

Plan on setting up a temporary kitchen in some place like your garage, basement or utility room
(ideally, someplace with a sink). Ask your contractor if he can help. Before you get rid of your old
cabinets, have him place a few in your temporary kitchen. If the cabinets don't have a countertop
anymore, lay plywood on top so you'll at least have a work surface and a place for small appliances.

Set up a bulletin board in your temporary kitchen to track the remodeling progress. Take photographs
often, and make a checklist and a calendar so you can cross off each step as it happens. It'll help
keep your frustration down if you can see that you're getting to your end goal - a new kitchen.
Be patient: the process hardly ever happens as quickly as you hoped it would.

Keep commonly used kitchen items in clear plastic storage containers and label them accordingly.
This will make it easier to find what you need. Box up stuff that you use only occasionally and store
it in an out-of-the-way place.

If you're still going to have a freezer during the remodel, make some big meals ahead of time and
freeze them in smaller portions. This way you can defrost single-meal portions and reheat them in
the microwave.

Offer a friend a home-cooked meal in exchange for using her kitchen. If you bring the food and
the fixings, she'll probably be delighted.

If you're lucky enough, your remodel will take place in warmer weather during barbecue season.
If you're worried about putting your cookware on the grill, rub bar soap on the bottom and sides
of your pots and the black soot from the grill will easily wash off.

Start clipping restaurant and take-out coupons before your remodel starts. If you plan and budget
for dining out you'll have more money to invest in your remodel.

Plan on picnicking. Even if the weather isn't nice, spread a plastic tablecloth on the floor of your
living room or den. The best thing about indoor picnics: no ants.

Invest in a camping cook stove. Better yet, borrow one from a friend or check online to see whether
you can get a secondhand one cheap.

Put away breakables and valuables in rooms adjacent to the kitchen. Stuff in the next room may
even suffer damage during construction or when work crews are carrying equipment in and out.

Map out the path the contractors will take from your door to the kitchen and protect those floors
by laying down carpet scraps, old rugs or plastic drop cloths.

If you have pets, keep them out of the way of the work crew. They could disrupt work, or worse,
get hurt.

Other Ideas for Surviving Your Kitchen Remodeling

Find a good place to locate your refrigerator or get a smaller unit for the makeshift kitchen area
and keep your main fridge in the garage. If possible run a temporary water line to feed the ice maker
and water dispenser, since you probably won't have a sink close by.

A microwave oven and toaster oven can be your best friends, handling about 75 percent of meal
preparation tasks.

A hot plate or single coil burner makes a great addition. However, do not use a propane or white gas
stove inside the house! These can also be great temporary kitchen appliances but only for outdoor use.

Keep your food supplies and temporary kitchen appliances together in a single space to avoid having
to run back and forth between rooms when preparing meals.

Dust infiltrates everything, so use airtight plastic boxes to store food items and kitchen utensils.
Cover food preparation surfaces with plastic tarps during the work day and be sure to mark the top
side or you'll get even more dust on those surfaces!

Washing dishes may be the biggest hassle in your makeshift kitchen. If at all possible, relocate your
old dishwasher temporarily. If that isn't possible, get a portable utility sink and have your plumbing
contractor plumb it in a convenient location as close to the fridge and makeshift kitchen area as
possible. If none of these options are available, you'll have to get really creative by setting up a
backyard cleaning station with a garden hose and temporary basin, using a bathroom or laundry room
sink or even the bathtub if no other options are available.

Get some plastic tubs to haul dirty dishes to the clean up station and back to the kitchen space for
storage in your airtight bins.

Since you won't have a garbage disposal, keep a garbage can with airtight lid and plastic liner in
the kitchen work area and plan to empty it at least once a day.

Use your outdoor BBQ grill as much as possible to reduce odors and indoor cooking activities.

Frozen foods and precooked meals that can be nuked in the microwave oven are a great way to
reduce meal preparation messiness and get meals prepared quickly.

Keep plenty of snack foods like fresh fruit, granola bars, chips, crackers, etc. handy.

Use disposable plates and utensils during this difficult time; while nobody wants to add to the
landfill, this is a good time to make an exception.

If budget allows, eat out or get take out to avoid meal preparation and give yourself a break from
the chaos of construction.

For safety, always keep pets and small children away from the construction area.

Setting Up a Temporary Kitchen

Remodeling a kitchen is a huge and exciting project. Putting together a temporary kitchen helps
homeowners tolerate the mess until the project is done.

Of all possible home renovation projects, remodeling a kitchen is one of the most difficult to live
through. Even for non-cooks, the kitchen truly is the center of the home. It is the site of meal
preparation and often where family members gather to eat. At the very least, it is where drinks,
and ready to heat meals are stored! Before the first cabinet is torn out, or the appliances are
discarded homeowners should set up a temporary kitchen in another room. Doing so will make
the weeks or months of renovations much easier on everyone.

Choose a Location for the Temporary Kitchen

Try to pick a room that is convenient to a bathroom or other source of running water. Make sure
to protect other furnishings in the room by either covering or removing them for the construction
period. Check to see if there are adequate outlets for plugging in small appliances. If possible, place
the refrigerator in the same room too.

Are the lighting and ventilation adequate? Without major appliances, the cooking will be basic, but
a window or two will help to get rid of any food odors.

Gather Essential Components

Begin by setting up a workspace, such as a long, folding table. Place any small appliances that will
aide in quick meal preparation on it. A counter-top microwave and a toaster oven can handle a
surprising variety of meals. For many people, a coffee-maker is an essential appliance, but also keep
in mind other less used items. A slow cooker, a waffle iron, and a sandwich maker can nicely add to
the menu options. Don't forget to keep a good microwave cookbook handy.

Planning for easy cleanup is also important. With no dishwasher, paper plates and plastic cups can
help to cut down on the washing. Using a permanent marker to write each family member's name on
a cup in the morning can cut back on the number used. Be sure to keep an empty plastic tub nearby,
and put any real dishware in for later washing. When full, the entire tub can be carried to the bath or
utility sink for washing up.

Pack Away Whatever is Unnecessary

Decorative accessories, oven cookware, and fine china are just some of the items that can be boxed
up for the duration of the renovation. Space will be at a premium once the remodeling starts, so keep
out only what is really necessary. Do remember to leave out microwave safe plates and bowls, as well
as things like plastic wrap, hot mitts, and a microwave cookbook or two. Use large plastic bins to store
non-perishable foods, like cereals.

With a little planning, homeowners can still manage to cook during a kitchen renovation. A project of
this scale is bound to be somewhat inconvenient, but taking the time to set up a temporary kitchen
can help stem the chaos. Create a space apart from the work zone for food preparation and storage,
and life will be easier for everyone. Now let the renovations begin!

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