Meal Prepping Before a Massive Kitchen Remodel (or Anything Else that Will Keep you Out of the Kitchen)
If you’ve listened to some of our previous episodes in the podcast, you probably know that right after the big launch of The Roadmap (our brand new online course that teaches you how to go vegan step by step), we were heading straight into a MASSIVE kitchen remodel. When I shared this, a lot of you wrote saying that you thought our current kitchen looked so great in our videos and you were wondering what on Earth we were going to do with it. Here’s the deal, and this might come as a huge surprise if you haven’t heard me confess it before. The kitchen you see in our videos is not our real kitchen!
Well, yes that is the truth.
When we first started filming for brownble we filmed one yummy recipe in our real kitchen and it has forever been under lock and key! The light wasn’t good enough and our lights for filming didn’t fit comfortably in the kitchen. Carlos had trouble moving around the kitchen with the cameras and tripods, not to mention the mic stand, or the fact that I’ve never really loved our kitchen and we’ve been wanting to change it practically since we moved into this apartment about 9 years ago. As we were pondering at night how we might be able to improve the quality of the videos filmed in our kitchen, Carlos suddenly had a stroke of genius and he began to plan and draw up a set for filming. Aka, our video “kitchen” set that was, and still is, very beautiful, but which we have to take down and set up after and before each new video.
Then there was the issue of the actual kitchen, and how we really didn’t have enough space, nor did we like the distribution, or the cabinets, etc.
Long story short, this year we decided to take the plunge and dive right into the first really big remodel we’ve ever done. The guys are currently banging and drilling as I write this, and to make a long story short, the old kitchen was destroyed with a hammer on day 1, and although the workers have been going at it at lightning speed, it’s still in progress, and we won’t have the actual working kitchen for about 5 or 6 weeks in total.
That’s right, 5 or 6 weeks without a working kitchen, 5 or 6 weeks without a dishwasher or kitchen sink, 5 or 6 weeks without an oven (my most used part of the kitchen). Yowza!
Everyone kept telling me to brace myself for what was ahead, i.e., builders skipping days and postponing the finish line, builders saying there would be extra costs, me going crazy with meal time, and you know what…. it has been the most smooth sailing ride EVER! The guys are working so hard to have it finished in the exact time frame they had given me, we haven’t gone a nickel over budget so far, they’re kind, respectful and VERY hard-working people that have made this not only ok, but even fun!
I know I’m generally slightly Pollyanna about things, but in all seriousness, it truly has been nothing but an exciting adventure.
One thing is true though, not having a working kitchen would have posed lots of challenges if I hadn’t prepared like I did (so thank you all of you who scared me because you helped me over prepare!).
The first magical helping hand
If someone going into a big remodel asked me for advice, here’s what I would say as my number one tip: buy an inexpensive portable elective stovetop. We had the one we use on the set and it has made a HUGE difference! It only has two burners which is the perfect amount to not have it take up a lot of space, but it’s also enough to put the kettle on and quickly sauté some veggies, warm up a pasta sauce, quickly blanch or steam something. It has made all the difference and we set it up in our dining room table and together with the magical helping hand number 2 (below), we haven’t eaten out or ordered takeout once since we got started! Meaning, the little extra budget we had set aside for takeout during those weeks has been untouched so far. I don’t know where you stand on having a microwave or not (I have one), but when the guys took it out of the old kitchen before smashing it to pieces, I asked them to put it on a little side table we have, I plugged it in, and it has also been a great aid in warming things up (and making popcorn of course!).
The second magical helping hand
The second helping hand, which I think was equally as part of the reason we’ve been so comfortable while this remodel is taking place, was prepping lots of meals ahead of time.
You know how I feel about meal prepping and batch cooking. We have a set of highlights on instagram dedicated to this (follow us @ brownble on instagram!), we have a section in the My Brownble online program with examples on video of how to meal prep for the week, I’ve talked about it so many times in the podcast, you get the idea, I’m a fan!
I think it saves you so much time throughout the week, it prevents food waste, it helps you stretch your groceries and stay on budget, it helps planning meals during the week easy peasy, and it helps you cook and eat more at home which is always great. During a kitchen remodel though, it’s essential. We would have spent so much more money if we didn’t have a fully stocked fridge and freezer with some delicious home cooked meals that we simply had to warm through, or sauté quickly in our portable stove.
Other situations where meal prepping might come in handy
Remodels are not the only times in which meal prepping can be a lifesaver.
You might be going out of town leaving the kids under the care of your partner or their grandparents and you want to make sure they’ve got plenty to eat until you return.
You might have a very important and stressful project at work coming up which will keep you working very late hours and with very little time to step foot in the kitchen.
You might be about to have a baby and you want to be able to dedicate your time to your new child instead of worrying about dinner.
You might be going into surgery or you might be recovering from an illness.
Someone in your family might be ill or in hospital and you might need to be away for a few days or weeks.
You just love to cook on one day, and then forget about it the rest of the weeks.
There could be many more reasons why you might need to step out of your kitchen, or why meal prepping might become your new BFF.
Meal Prepping and Batch Cooking Ideas for a Kitchen Remodel (or any Situations that will Keep you Out of the Kitchen)
Here’s a little list of what I made the weekend before the remodel started. Replenishing what we’ve eaten by making simple staples I could make on the portable stove the following weekend. This meant I focused especially on meals that would freeze and re-heat well, and on meals that required lots of utensils, pots, pans and of course the oven before the remodel began. Leaving only simple preparations for the days ahead.
Remember to store foods you prep in containers that are appropriate for freezing, with space for the food to expand a bit when frozen, and label everything with the amount of servings, the name of the dish and the date.
A yummy chickpea Thai curry with carrots, onion and lots of kale. (You have the recipe in The Roadmap!)
Basmati rice to go with the curry.
Baked potatoes for stuffing later with veggies and beans.
Roasted sweet potatoes for stuffing later with veggies and beans.
Roasted rosemary and thyme mini potatoes and cubed sweet potatoes as a side for any other dish we’d be making.
Lots of tomato sauce for pastas, to top the stuffed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and even veggie bowls.
We have an outdoor grill, so this also meant we could bake pizzas in it, so I always keep frozen pizza dough or pizza crusts in the freezer, and I froze small containers with tomato sauce, meaning all you have to do is add the vegan cheese and toppings. Of course you need to have either a very hot outdoor grill or a small toaster oven to make mini pizzas (you can used halved pita pockets or small pizza crusts if this is the case.
A huge batch of pumpkin soup, divided into small containers.
A big pan of vegetable paella (you have the recipe in our online program!).
Steamed broccoli seasoned with garlic powder, dried herbs, salt, pepper and some nutritional yeast (this I don’t like to freeze, I just keep it in the fridge, eat it throughout the week and make another batch for the following week).
Blanched green beans, also kept in the fridge and used throughout the week as a side or in salads.
A salad dressing to use throughout the week.
Cooked yuca seasoned with lots of fresh parsley, salt, pepper and a pat of non-dairy butter. (You can also make our yuca with mojo from our online program!).
Potato salad to serve with vegan sausages, mustard and sauerkraut for a quick German inspired meal.
I chopped lots of peppers and onions to quickly sauté with seitan, tempeh or tofu throughout the week, and kept them in a large container.
I kept lots of bags of kale which you can turn into delicious salads. Kale holds better in the fridge and lasts longer than traditional salad greens, and you can add it to smoothies too!
Brown rice frozen in individual containers
I also kept some store-bought veggie burgers, sausages, seitan steaks and tofu, to be quickly sautéed or grilled and served with any of the sides I had prepped ahead of time.
I kept lots of fresh veggies for salads, things like cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, greens, cabbage, mushrooms, etc.
I bought whole wheat tortillas for wraps, canned lentils, chickpeas and beans for making quick tacos, and store-bought guacamole and hummus for topping delicious goodies.
Other items to have on hand:
Frozen fruits for smoothies.
Frozen veggies like corn, peas, artichoke hearts, edamame, etc.
Rice paper sheets for making summer rolls.
Corn or wheat tortillas for making quick wraps or tacos.
Fresh veggies for a quick stir-fry or some sautéed veggies.
Your favorite ingredients for making smoothies.
Vegan deli slices or your favorite sandwich or bagel making ingredients
There are so many options you can prep and make ahead of time the require minimal work throughout the week, and perfect for living in what feels like a construction site thankfully divided from your living space by a plastic curtain that keeps the endless amounts of dust away.
Whether you’re remodelling your kitchen or your home, or whether your life circumstances right now require less time spent in the kitchen, I hope some of these ideas were helpful!