So the kitchen has been gone for a little over a week and while the kids and I have spent some time staying with family, we’ve also had a week’s worth of dinners at home… without a kitchen… and it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be!
We are breaking our food budget during this time and buying more pre-made items and eating expensive meals more than we would normally, but for the most part we are still eating healthy family meals.
I think the secret is in the preparation. Partly it is making some meals ahead of time and partly it is getting together a list of easier meal options. The week before the kitchen was demolished Morgan and I did a big shop and cooked up lots of make ahead freezer meals. We also pre-prepped some other meals to make and I wrote a list of meals that needed little or no preparation or cooking.
So, in case you find yourself in renovation hell without a kitchen, or maybe you just need some really easy meal ideas, I’m sharing our favourite super easy family dinners.
Ten Easy Family Dinners
Lentil-ease or Spaghetti Bolognese.
We cooked up a HUGE batch of sauce and froze it in three dinner sized portions. Then all we had to do was defrost and cook pasta, which is even easy to do in the microwave if you buy the pasta that cooks in 5 minutes.
This was another big cook up and three more dinners in the freezer. Serve with quick cook rice or the rice that ‘cooks’ in the fridge to make this an extra quick meal. Sprinkle with cheese and a dollop of sour cream and guacamole and it seems even fancier.
We used the same Chilli meat to fill store bought soft tortillas, added some cheese, wrapped and froze. I’m hoping if I leave these out to defrost I will be able to warm them in the electric fry pan on low with the lid on.
Hamburgers/Rissoles and Salad
I flash froze two dinners worth of beef and shredded veggie rissoles/hamburgers and popped them in a zip lock bag. I can pull out just as many as I need to cook them up in the electric fry pan. With salad and shop bought rolls this has been a favourite dinner.
Chicken Pitas with Salad
I pre-cut the chicken into small pieces, popped it in a zip lock bag along with some garlic and soy sauce and froze it. All I need to do is defrost and cook it in the fry pan and serve it with salad, dip and pita bread for an easy ‘make it yourself’ dinner.
Chicken Noodle Soup with Crusty Bread
I have a heap of homemade chicken stock in the freezer and with some grated carrot, zucchini and some rice noodles it makes a super quick and easy meal that I can do in the microwave if I have to.
Morgan has recently mastered the art of grating veggies so I set him to work grating potato, carrots and zucchinis to make this easy ‘cook in the fry pan on the table’ dinner.
Pita Bread Pizza.
Ok so it’s not nearly as good as my home made pizza base but if pita bread makes a great, cheap and easy pizza base that cooks quickly, even in a toaster oven if that’s all you’ve got.
Lunch For Dinner
My kids just can’t get their heads around the whole ‘breakfast for dinner’ idea, but they can manage lunch for dinner. Homemade pizza rolls from the freezer or a selection of lunch meat, salads and a variety of bread rolls will keep my lot happy any night of the week.
Take Out or Take In.
During the renovation madness I’ve made allowance in our budget for a few meals of take out… or ‘take in’. Buying a supermarket roast chook, some pre-made salads and getting some chips from the fish and chip shop on the way home is a viable dinner option that isn’t too expensive or unhealthy. Same goes for pre-made supermarket lasagne, or some ravioli with a jar of sauce. We’ve also made plans to eat out a couple of times, nothing fancy, just a little something for everyone to look forward and a break from washing the dishes in the bathroom.
And just for laughs you should all go read this old post that I wrote when the kitchen wall and roof came off… back then I thought the new kitchen would be in in 6 months. Six months? It’s already been more than a year since that post! Ah well I still subscribe to that last point though.