Here are a few tips to stay healthy and stuffed:
The best advice I got when preparing for the arrival of our little one was to cook and cook lots and freeze it all for those first hectic, sleepless, joyous months. If felt so good to have a wholesome and hearty meal only a few minutes away by microwave or stovetop. I made several litres of four kinds of soup, lentil-walnut burgers, veggie chili, chicken pot pies and it really only took a couple of weekends of work. The payoff is so worth it. This advice works just as well for a kitchen reno too – a great way to not blow your budget on crappy take-out or less than special restaurant excursions.
Set up a mini kitchen elsewhere
- Warning: You may never move your coffee maker out of the bedroom once it enters, but enjoy this caffeinated perk during your kitchen renovation.
- The dining room is a great spot to set up a hotplate, toaster oven and microwave. The table itself can be used as prep room. Do yourself the favour of being organized though, diligently cleaning as you prep meals and getting dirty dishes done after eating because it’ll quickly feel like chaos if you don’t. If possible set up a shelf of dishes, editing your flatware choices to the bare minimum to keep clutter contained.
- You’ll also need a place to wash up, which most likely means the bathroom sink or tub.
- Hopefully you’ll still have access to your fridge, if not invest in a bar fridge and stand alone freezer which can be set up elsewhere, however awkward.
Focus on one-pot meals and foods that only get better with time
In the cooler months a chili or hearty stew can be made in one pot and will keep for a few days. If it’s summer pasta, bean, or couscous salads really only improve with a day or two of marinating (just add your favourite sandwich for a full meal). Making large batches of these will make for quick and easy meals for at least a couple of days.
If the weather is on your side and you’ve got a garden or patio, the barbeque will be your best friend. Get adventurous, you’re really not limited to hot dogs and burgers! My favs this summer have been roasted veggies and lemon garlic shrimp. Plus you can put your cast iron grills and pans directly on the barbeque to really expand your culinary options.
Accept friendly neighbours’ offerings
If friends and neighbours offer to bring you food or have the family over for dinner, for the love of a decent meal, say yes! You can repay this remarkable kindness in full with a gourmet dinner in your brand new kitchen a few weeks hence.
Community dinners and picnics
Toronto is a great city for parks as I assume many urban centres are. Many of our city’s parks and parkettes also have a strong community contingent that informally evolved out of a sense of camaraderie and pride for one’s neighbourhood and public spaces. I can think of at least two west-end parks that host weekly community dinners offering healthy meals for the whole family. Countless others host farmer’s markets one day per week. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner and don’t have a kitchen, wander over to one of these spots and dine with your neighbours for less than take out. Or just pick up some healthy offerings at the farmer’s market for a quiet little picnic.
Take out and delivery
Of course this might be what you end up doing more often than you’d like but hopefully the ideas above mean it won’t have to be an everyday thing. Do your research beforehand too and find out which of your favourite healthy haunts deliver so at least it won’t be fast food every night! And now’s a great time to try various international cuisines: Thai and Indian curries, affordable falafels and west-Indian roti, handmade pierogi and cabbage rolls – make it a theme night where the family travels the globe one night a week for dinner.
Bon appetit! My fingers are crossed your reno goes smoothly and you’re soon cooking up a storm in your dreamiest of dream kitchens!