How To Live Without A Kitchen During A Kitchen Renovation

One question I’ve been getting over and over again on InstaStories is, “how is it living without a kitchen?!” Today I’m sharing an overdue answer, including tips on how to live without a kitchen during a kitchen renovation. I’m far from an expert, but every little bit helps when you’re in the midst of such a mess!

And a disclaimer before you read today’s post… it is far from our pretty, styled photos we usually share. There is absolutely nothing glamorous about living in your basement with a temporary kitchen and everything else that usually lives in the kitchen cabinets. #yikes

Our Temporary Kitchen Setup

how to live without a kitchen during a kitchen renovationBefore I dive into the tips, let’s first chat about our current setup. For nearly a MONTH now, this is our makeshift kitchen that we set up in the guest room of our basement. We have a box full of silverware and a few utensils, lots of baby bottles/spoons, cups, bowls, plates, a coffee pot, a microwave we bought at a garage sale for $10, and a few boxes of baby cereal, formula, and coffee.

We also have a basket of all of our “pantry” food that sits on the bed near this table and access to our kitchen refrigerator that now lives in our garage permanently.

using a temporary kitchen during constructionThat’s everything we have “set up” in terms of a makeshift kitchen. We are grateful to have a bathroom sink and a slop sink in the basement to wash our dishes. And honestly, we’ve eaten in way more than I ever expected. Is it ideal? No! But is it the worst thing ever? Not at all!

Tips to Live Without a Kitchen

Tips and tricks for to live without a kitchen during a renovation

Here’s what we have learned along the way…

Set Up A Temporary Kitchen

Our temporary kitchen is clearly NOTHING fancy, but it’s a necessity that I am so grateful we have this one up and running. One mistake we made was setting it up after the demo. That was not a great idea because the last thing we wanted to do after a long day of the demo was organize a temporary kitchen in our basement.

We should have set it up while we packed up our kitchen and had everything set before we started the demo. That would have ensured we had everything we needed from the start and would have made things a tad more organized.

Keep Boxes Accessible

But regardless of how much you plan in advance, you’re bound to forget a few items that you will need over the next month or so. To make sure you can still access those last minute items, keep the boxes as accessible as possible. OR at least try and keep the boxes of items you use the most closer to the front of your stack.

keep boxes accessible just in caseWe did this with our “junk drawer” when we packed it up. We knew we would definitely need some of the gadgets that typically live in the junk drawer, so we didn’t seal that box and actually put it in a location that would be very accessible. Almost a month in, I can say we’ve had to access that particular box at least once a week so we are very grateful that we considered this when packing up.

Clean Dishes Right Awaykeep dishes clean

I’m guilty of not always following this advice, but Matt keeps me in line and I’m so glad that he does because cleaning the dishes right away is a MUST to keep your sanity. We’re not people who let our dishes stack up because we typically put them right into the dishwasher. BUT, when you don’t have a dishwasher, you’re a little more tempted to get to that dish later, which makes the cleaning process 10 times harder and makes your temporary kitchen a cluttered mess!

My advice to you is to rinse and clean your dishes RIGHT after you eat off of them. This will ensure food is not sticking to them and will also make sure the clutter isn’t piling up and making you crazier than you already are!

Borrow A Kitchen When You Can

We actually still do some cooking thanks to my in-laws. Matt goes over there about once a week to prep Ben’s baby food and he makes a batch of soup for lunch/dinner.

use or borrow a microwave to surviveAlthough this sounds like a small feat, it has made a world of difference in keeping us feeling a little healthier. Having something home cooked (even if it’s reheated in our microwave) has been amazing, especially after all the unhealthy stuff we feel like we’ve been eating because we can’t make much.

If you have access to someone else’s kitchen, even just for a little bit… take it! Any meal prep that can produce healthy options to eat is worth it.

Get Creative With Your Meals

We are not experienced chefs so I’m probably not the best person to report on this topic. BUT, it seems like so many of the healthy meals we usually eat require cooking. We’ve looked into alternatives (like buying pre-made soup instead of making it like we usually do) and have found that it is very difficult finding healthy options that require no cooking.

creating a place for food during a kitchen renovationWe have no choice since we don’t have a stove/oven, but that hasn’t stopped us from trying to stay as healthy as possible. For example, we try to buy cold items that don’t require cooking, like salad kits. We buy some of the other “pre-made” food at the deli, like additional salads, soups, or sushi rolls. Again, they’re not perfect, but they’re better than buying some of the canned/boxed alternatives.

We’ve also tried some microwavable meals, trying to choose the “healthy” options as much as possible. These taste good enough, but even the healthy ones are loaded with a ton of sodium so we haven’t gone overboard with this option.

clean silverware in a temporary kitchenOur month of meals has been far from perfect, but we have tried to be resourceful in creating meals that are on the healthier side. And oddly enough, we have been able to eat at home way more often than we expected!

If you have any other suggestions/ideas, leave them in the comments below! I’d love to hear them (and try them!) and I’m sure others in the same situation would too.

Use Your Gift Cardsusing giftcards during a kitchen renovation

Now for the times we haven’t eaten at home, we try choosing places that we have gift cards for. This way we aren’t breaking the bank, yet still have the opportunity to eat out. (Oh, and if you have lots of gift cards check out how to organize them) .

Order Leftovers!

Whenever we do go out to eat, we always bring the leftovers home because they are easy to heat up! Or better yet, sometimes we’ll even order a meal that we could bring home and heat up for lunch or dinner the next day. Of course, we don’t do that every time, but it’s an option to consider.

Embrace The Chaosbaby high chair during kitchen renovation

And last but certainly not least, my best advice to survive a kitchen renovation is to embrace the craziness! Living through a kitchen renovation is not for someone who finds peace in an organized, clean, and tidy house (like me!).

Living without a kitchen and living through a renovation is a HOT MESS and can quickly become extra stressful if you don’t embrace the chaos, the mess, the dust, and everything else that comes along.

storing kitchen boxes during a renovationI keep telling myself that it will be worth it in the end and this is just temporary. And if I’m being even more honest with myself, this is such a “first world problem”. I have ZERO room to complain. I’m only living like this because I’m getting a new kitchen. How is that anything to be stressed about?! Perspective is everything…


Follow Our Kitchen Progress



The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.