Menu Planning Without a Kitchen

The view from my front door. Yep, refrigerator in the living room. (And santa hat on the dining room floor. I have no idea.) That’s how we roll!
living room

It’s been months since I posted a menu plan here. I have lots of excuses, but one of my goals is to get back to that this year, because so many of you have commented that it’s helpful. I feel you! Sometimes just figuring out what to eat is a mental block that trickles down to wasted time and money in hasty, last-minute decisions. If what we’re eating can trigger ideas for you and keep me a little more organized, well then it’s good for all of us!

laundry1I’m menu planning without a kitchen for the third week in a row. There is light at the end of this tunnel (another 2 weeks, maybe) and I’m certainly not complaining: friends, I have a laundry room! Yee-haw! (Also, I have a sink in the laundry room, which means I am not doing dishes in our bathtub while we’re without a kitchen. Whew!)


For now, though, that means I’m limited to a few key tools in our makeshift space: my microwave, toaster, electric skillet, and crockpot are the stars of this make-do show.  Also, my mom. Goodness, she sent my dad with pizza, brown bag burritos, bierocks, a lasagna casserole, cookies, and my very favorite homemade brownies last week the day before we were snowed in. Proof that a mother’s work is never done!

Because of our circumstances, I’m working to keep us stocked up with easy, fresh snacks and meal sides: cheese, apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, carrots. And convenience foods are making an appearance much more than normal! The kids have been devouring string cheese, baby carrots, cereal, and individual (manager’s special) yogurt cups. Tis the season!

Here’s what I’m prepared to serve up this week.


  • early breakfast ~ bananas and toast
  • brunch ~ bacon and sausage links, french toast, fruit
  • supper ~ veggie beef soup in the crockpot, mini poppy seed muffins (that mom brought to us yesterday; the woman doesn’t quit!)

Weekday Breakfast Options

  • homemade granola (the last of it; I made a huge batch the day before we ripped the oven out)
  • instant oatmeal (yep, the sugary fruity stuff from the store ~ kids are thrilled!)
  • eggs (scrambled or fried) with toast or toasted bagels, fruit (I noticed I was feeling yucky a few days last week ~ we ran out of eggs! I need my eggs in the morning!)

Weekday Lunches ~ leftovers, sandwiches, fruit and veggies, cheese sticks, etc.

Weekday Suppers

  • sandwiches, chips, string cheese, apples, snacks (basketball game picnic)
  • layered ham skillet, homemade applesauce (yay for my freezer stash!)
  • cheeseburgers (on the skillet and with store buns; do what you gotta do!), carrots and ranch, fruit
  • baked potatoes (in the microwave, making do) topped with chili beans and cheese (this is one of Miss 10’s favorite meals, believe it or not ~ I’ll probably do broccoli and cheese on mine)
  • Hmmm, Valentine’s Day Friday ~ also a home game and my girls are cheering at halftime. We’ll figure out a way to eat and make the day special.

What are your favorite meals when your resources are limited? If this goes on much longer, I may need new ideas!

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  1. Sheila Laurence says:

    You are doing great, and I’m so excited to see the end result! Hang in there! BTW, you can do your baked potatoes in the crock pot. I think they taste a lot better the microwaved, and I gotten to where I bake almost all of mine (white and sweet) in the crock pot. You can wrap them in foil or what I generally do is drizzle a little bit of oil on them and go. You may be making the chili beans in your crock, though! I have two crock pots. Okay, to be really honest, I have 3. 🙂 One’s a little one, but I also have a 25+ year old 4 quart and a newer 6 quart. I use them all regularly!

    • I’ve never done baked potatoes in the crock pot, but would love to try. Approximately how long do you bake them? And on high or low?

      • Sheila Laurence says:

        I’ve done both, probably 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low. It will depend on the size of your potatoes and how hot your crock cooks.

    • Is the foil necessary? I don’t use it in the oven. Wonder if I can get by without it in the crock pot. Need to try that sometime!

      • Sheila Laurence says:

        No, I either wrap them in foil or drizzle them with oil. I don’t know that the oil is necessary either, but I read it somewhere and just have always done it.

  2. Sheila Laurence says:

    I mean to say that ‘I have gotten’ to where rather than ‘I gotten’.

  3. Nothing wrong with store buns for cheeseburgers! I love baking bread but I can’t get excited about baking hamburger buns for some reason. Kudos to you gals who do, that is lots of work 🙂 I’m so glad that you are getting a kitchen remodel! Hang in there, I’m sure it will be worth it 🙂 Thanks for sharing pictures of your remodel progress, they are fun to see!

  4. I make your granola in the crockpot during the summer. I saw directions online last yeafor a different recipe & tried it with yours. Works great! If you’re interested, I can dig up a link.

    I feel your pain! We did a complete kitchen makeover several years ago. Luckily my hubby is a carpenter & was able to do all the work. All the inconvenience & mess is so worth it!

  5. I feel your pain. And I will let you feel mine when it is my time to remodel the kitchen. Soon, I hope!

    This too shall pass and none of you will melt from eating “fast foods”. LOL

  6. That’s a great menu plan any week, but especially a “no kitchen” week! Go You!

  7. …and thank goodness for mom’s who are still there for us!

  8. I’m curious if you’re getting a Bontrager kitchen. The cabinets in your laundry room look good. Looks like that, too, will be a pretty room once the dust all settles. So so happy for you.

    By the way, I’ve been thinking lately of how often I use things I’ve learned from you, especially stuff about babies and pregnancy (hmm, haven’t you done a short series on that in the past?) I hear your voice in my head teaching me about nursing and pregnancy and mama stuff. You’ve taught me so much. Thank you.

    • Nope, but our carpenter lives just 10 miles south of us. Thrilled to have someone who can give me “real” cabinets. 🙂

      You are so very kind. I need to reawaken that series, maybe!

  9. Grilled cheese sandwiches on the skillet with tomato soup done in the crockpot would be yummy. I also recommend doing your baked potatoes in the crockpot. Best of luck! I’m excited to see the finished photos!

    • I think canned tomato soup ruined me as a child. I do NOT have fond memories. HA! My tastes have changed now, though. I should give it another try!

  10. This is a recipe I tried this week. The family really liked it and I appreciated that it felt homemade without a lot of work! You won’t be able to broil the cheese slices, but it will still be delicious!

  11. Amy all I can say is hang in there! We did a long distance move and have been living a hotel with a kitchenette. I’ve been struggling with the small sink and washing my baking pans (that I use in the full sized toaster oven) until I realized I could just wipe them clean in most cases and spray down with alcohol (since I don’t have a dishwasher) to disinfect them. As you said do what you gotta do. It’s a blessing you can afford convenience foods, when we first moved we tried that route and it was just too expensive and I was blowing through the food allowance so quickly, so had to get back to homemade. Thank Jehovah for the strength he gives when we need it most. You keep on keepin’ on and I look forward to the day you can move back into your newly remodeled kitchen. BTW how are you feeling these days? I hope that nausea has subsided for ya! If is hasn’t you are doing a good job at working through it all.

    • A toaster oven! That’s kind of sort of been on my wish list. I’ve never had one. Wonder if I’ll have space in the new kitchen?

      (Feeling MUCH better now, thank you!)

  12. You can do “real” oatmeal in the microwave, it doesn’t take much longer than instant, you just need to be sure to use a deep dish, it tends to overflow something shallow. I cook rice and many vegetables in the microwave, too. Microwave is the only way I cook corn these days, straight from frozen from the garden. Living in the deep south, I use my microwave a lot in the summertime to try to keep from heating up the kitchen as much.

    • I really shy away from cooking in the microwave when I can. I don’t like what I’ve been reading about it zapping nutrients and altering molecular structure and such. But in a pinch, that’s good to know!

  13. I lived through my no-kitchen days with an electric skillet, microwave and my folding sewing table as my only counter space. Thankfully, I had a huge laundry tub to wash dishes in; however, it was on a different floor. Hang in there. It gets better.

    • That sounds like my life for the last month! With any luck, we’ll move most everything back into the kitchen today! 🙂

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