Renovating your home can sometimes make you feel like you’ve gone off the grid—and not in a fun, life-affirming way. When you lose the use of your stove and/or refrigerator, meals devolve into an endless slog of takeout, which gets old and expensive fast. I’ve been there: During a recent kitchen renovation in my home, my trusty kitchen appliances were moved out to our driveway while we eagerly, then desperately, awaited the arrival of their updated counterparts a week later. It was just long enough to start losing our minds along with our appetites.
But since then, I’ve learned that there are ways to eat well through a kitchen renovation that won’t break the bank. So try these strategies to spice up your menu when you’re in the midst a major home improvement project. You’ll get through this. Bon appétit!
You know those coolers you bring to the beach or ballpark? Drag them out of the basement, and fill them with enough ice to keep small items cold for a day or two. Having a place to store milk for cereal, deli meat, cheeses, yogurt, or even a jar of salsa can at least save you money on a few meals and snacks and will add back a bit of normalcy to your life.
Fire it up
No matter the season, your outdoor grill—or even a portable tabletop model—can save the day when you’re without your stovetop. Yes, you’ll have to buy food to grill and prepare them within a short window of time, but that flame-broiled taste outweighs another visit to McDonald’s drive thru, right? And you’re not confined to the old burgers and hot dogs either. This is your chance to get creative: Think seafood, veggie kabobs, and pizza.
If you have a penchant for Neapolitan-style pies, transform your gas grill into a gourmet pizza oven with a device like the BakerStone Pizza Oven ($124).
Set it and forget it
Your slow cooker offers a quick solution to your appliance woes. Crock-Pots have made a huge comeback, while Instant Pots (which cook food faster) have a cult following.
If you’re reluctant, know this: The dried-out roasts your grandmother used to serve have gotten a serious upgrade. (Sorry, Nana.) Recipes abound, so there’s something to please every palate. Coming home to the heavenly aroma of a ready-to-serve dinner will have you reaching for this nifty kitchen appliance long after your renovation is complete.
Extend and accept invitations
“We put out the word to all our friends in the area that we were looking for dinner invitations and would reciprocate once the renovation was done,” says Shel Horowitz, founder of Going Beyond Sustainability.
“We were able to get about half our dinners covered this way, often with leftovers for the next day’s lunch. It helped that, one, we have a reputation as excellent cooks, and, two, people were very curious to see the transformation of a dark and awkward kitchen that hadn’t been redone in about 35 years,” Horowitz says. “We had a steady stream of dinner guests for a few months after things were done.”
If you’re willing to let people in during the remodel, organize a potluck with your neighbors. Chances are they’re curious to get a gander at what’s happening to your home’s interior. Offer to supply the booze and a store-bought or no-bake dessert, and watch the casseroles and side dishes roll in.
Make the most of your microwave
Don’t forget about those other handy helpmates: the microwave and toaster oven.
“Having the ability to prepare a warm meal makes it less tempting to go out to eat, and it also helps bring more variety to your menu,” says Stacy Fisher-Gunn, a self-care expert and founder of Living Upp.
The grilled cheese concoctions you can come up with will make you wonder if you ever need to go back to your regular-size stove.
If you’ve been considering getting on board with the raw food movement, here’s your chance: Many fruits and veggies don’t need to be cooked or stay refrigerated to remain fresh; add some cheese and crackers, and you will have a nice lunch or dinner. Hummus can be purchased in small quantities and is a good source of protein.
Get out of town
If you can arrange a vacation to coincide with at least part of your renovation, you won’t feel the hunger for your old kitchen as acutely. While planning your getaway, either rent a place with a kitchen and enjoy home-cooked meals in a new setting, or dine out as you might anyway—and hopefully come home to an amazing new kitchen.
This article was originally published at Realtor.com.