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What to Feed Your Family Without a Kitchen During Construction

What and How to Feed Your Family When Your Kitchen is Under Construction

If you are doing construction in your home and your kitchen will be unavailable for a period of time, I have some great ideas for you to prep food for your family without the use of a full kitchen. Late in the pandemic, I renovated the kitchen in our home, and it took longer than expected because a number of things were difficult to get at the time (remember that whole supply thing, container ships stuck at the port for days?!), and we lived without a kitchen for over two months in our house during that construction. I learned a LOT of tricks and hacks of what to buy at Costco to meal prep and feed our family without a kitchen.

Ordering out can get expensive FAST. Even when I pick it up to save on delivery expenses (which does make a huge difference!) it still adds up quickly. Shopping at Costco and prepping my own food is not only significantly cheaper, but it’s healthier and in many cases, it tastes better too. IYKYK I have a super picky kiddo – ordering out is sometimes a flop and there’s nothing worse than spending money to order out, and then having to make him dinner anyway! Of course you can shop at other stores too – Sam’s Club will offer the most similar product line – but regular grocery stores are also fine too! I think I save a little more by shopping at a wholesale club, and I like the deli prepared meals at Costco – but you can shop at any local grocer too!

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What and How to Feed Your Family When Your Kitchen is Under Construction

This was my makeshift food prep space during our kitchen construction/renovation – it’s not pretty but it’s functional!

What to Feed Your Family Without a Kitchen During Construction - CostContessa

ProTip: We all want to eat healthy, and to feed our kids healthy. One thing I think you need to know going into an extended period of time where you can’t use a kitchen to cook and prepare food is that you will have to make some compromises. It is still possible to eat relatively healthy, and to make sure your kids get a variety of foods and nutrition, but I think it’s important to be realistic. Time, money, and energy are not finite…so pick your battles, combine shortcuts with real food, and I promise…if I can get by without a kitchen for a stretch, so can you!

My Favorite Foods for Prepping Family Meals During Kitchen Renovations

In these ideas, my assumptions are that you have no access to your kitchen, but can access a sink, a microwave, a refrigerator, and some amount of freezer space. For expanded ideas beyond these scroll down to the countertop appliance section!

Top Breakfast Ideas without a Kitchen

  • Cold cereal and Milk
  • Fruit, Yogurt and Granola Parfaits (make them or buy pre-made)
  • Pancakes or Waffles (see below re countertop appliances) – tip: skip syrup and use chocolate chips
  • Microwavable Breakfast Sandwiches
  • Starbucks Egg Bites or Three Bridges Egg Bites
  • Microwaveable Bacon
    • Although you can buy pre-cooked microwavable bacon at almost all grocery stores, it’s quite expensive. At Costco, you can buy it in bulk, and it’s much more reasonably priced. It’s definitely worth getting the Costco pack – it saves money and lasts a while in the fridge.
  • Microwaveable Breakfast Sausages
  • Instant Oatmeal Packets
  • Overnight Oats
  • Pastry or Muffins

Top Lunch Ideas without a Kitchen

  • Lunchables or Snack Packs
    • You can find a lot of varieties of snack packs in bulk at Costco – including the all chicken packs which are an easy protein to add to lunch. Check Target or a local grocery for Lunchables – my kids like the sub sandwich lunchables best.
  • Frozen PBJ Sandwiches
    • There are boxes of frozen peanut butter and jelly crustless sandwiches for kids at Costco or Sam’s Club in bulk if you have room to store them; otherwise, just buy a couple at a time at the regular retail grocery store. They just need to be defrosted – no cooking necessary so great for lunch box prep or taking along for lunch on the go.
  • Individual bags of chips, trail mix, dried or freeze dried fruit, Aussie Bites, popcorn

Top Dinner Ideas without a Kitchen

Countertop Appliances

You definitely don’t need to have all of these! Choosing one or two of these can really save the day in terms of adding some variety while prepping food in a makeshift kitchen during construction. Ideally, you either already have one or two of these, or you would use one of these in your regular kitchen occasionally, and it would make sense to purchase it now to use but continue to get use out of it later.

I am not a big fan of purchasing appliances for short term use – so I only recommend these if you’d continue to use them.

Waffle Maker

Waffle maker waffle mix comes in just add water varieties, so it’s very quick, easy, and inexpensive to make waffles if you have a waffle iron. There are a number of brands that make super inexpensive waffle makers, well under $20, and sometimes you can find them under $10 at Target.

I like to put chocolate chips in my kids’ waffles so that I can skip syrup. The chocolate chips add the sweetness, and I can skip the sticky cleanup and stocking items that have limited use like maple syrup.

Indoor Grill

Depending on how much meat you eat, an indoor grill (think like the George Foreman) can be super handy for those who are on low carb diets and tend to eat more meat.

Electric Griddle

Pancake mix comes in just add water varieties, which make it super easy to whip up some pancake mix and use an electric griddle. Most electric griddles are nonstick and are very easy to clean, and basically just need to be wiped down when they’re done.

Electric griddles can also be used to make quesadillas, grilled cheese, tuna melts, eggs, and a variety of other foods. I recommend sticking to items that clean up easily, especially if you’re working with limited sink space.

Slow Cooker

There are tons of crockpot/slow cooker recipes out there where you can literally take a piece of meat and a bottle of sauce and throw it into the slow cooker, and it will make a meal for you. They sell a number of sauces that are premixed, but others are as simple as a couple of chicken breasts or piece of pork and some barbecue sauce are family dinner favorites and are super easy and totally doable without a kitchen. I have an inexpensive crockpot from Target, and it’s largely the same as the previous expensive crockpot that I had. This ceramic insert is identical, and it’s generally quite easy to clean if enough liquid was in cooking.

Air Fryer

Many people already own an air fryer, which makes this one an easy idea because most people already have one in their kitchen. Just keep in mind that they can be a little tricky to clean, so depending on what your options are to clean it, an air fryer may or may not be a good idea. If you have a sink large enough and a freezer, then there are lots of air fryer options!

Hot Plate

Although this is probably the most versatile option to have when you don’t have a kitchen, it’s probably the least likely to get used afterward, so depending on the length of time that you’ll need it for I think you should make your decision based on that. I personally don’t like to acquire a countertop appliance that I only need for one week. One idea might be to ask your local buy-nothing group on Facebook if anyone has one they don’t need and could lend it to you or give it to you. If you go, this might be something handy to own. I own a hot plate, but to be honest, I didn’t use it all that much when our kitchen was out of commission because I found cleaning pots and pans to be quite tricky as I was limited to a pedestal bathroom sink for cleaning.

Sandwich Maker

If you have picky kids and grilled cheese is a winner winner chicken dinner, a sandwich maker might be a friend during this time. Add sliced deli meat to boost the protein.

Dining Out Bargain Tip: Don’t forget about Costco Food Courts and Sam’s Club Food Courts! These are some of the best deals out there and they offer seating. When you’re burned out, you can grab a cheap and tasty meal at either of my favorite Big Box Wholesale Clubs!

Check Out My Other Money Saving Shopping Guides:

All opinions expressed on CostContessa are our own. Product features and nutrition information provided on our site is provided to us by third parties, and we do not independently verify its accuracy. Consumers should verify all information. Our content is not intended as a substitute for medical counseling or reading packaging yourself. Please always see actual package information yourself (it can and does change!) and consult your doctor with all questions.

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