5 Tips To Help You Cook At Home While Moving

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Over the last week, my husband and I have started the (seemingly) never ending process of moving. We knew we’d need some bare essentials to tide us over for a short while and determined not to eat out, or have anything delivered, we packed a box, made a few lists and acquired a plan. So far, we’re on day 8 of eating (well) at home, while also working day jobs and packing and running loads of our belongings to the new place (movers just aren’t our style). All it took was 24 hours of prep time…

The last time we moved, my husband and I ended up knowing the Thai delivery man’s name. I do believe we also saw pictures of his children, dogs and they knew our voice when we called. It was a sad, sad display for anyone, let alone a foodie. But when you’ve packed your 30th box of books and you can’t fathom going anywhere near the kitchen, it’s sometimes easier to let convenience get the better of you!

The amount of money we spent (and our favorite little place wasn’t even remotely pricey) was ridiculous and the food made us sluggish and less productive, which in turn made us more and more annoyed with the whole process. We vowed to never do it again, and so far we’re doing great with cooking from home and having dinner ready within a half hour of walking in the door.

Moving is a great way to clean out the freezer and pantry alike. There’s always a box of noodles hiding somewhere and likewise a package of hamburger or turkey we froze and forgot about. This is a perfect time to use up what you have! We determined that with the base set of supplies below, we could make even the most lifeless pantry items usable.

To start things off, we packed a kitchen emergency box. In it should be the essentials to tide you over for 48-72 hours in your new place (or at your old place once it’s all packed up). Here’s what was in ours…

72 Hour Kitchen Emergency Kit Contents
• Kosher Salt
• Olive Oil
• 2 Lemons (and/or limes)
• 2 Red Onions
• 3 Heads of Garlic
• Heat Resistant Spatula
• Non Stick Pan
• 1 Kitchen Knife
• Dinnerware: 2 spoons, 2 forks, 2 knives, 2 glasses and 2 plates
• New Sponge/Dishsoap
• 1 Mixing Bowl
• Fresh Basil (although we managed to kill our living basil during the move!)
• 1 Bag of M&M’s (because even we wanted a little sugar pick up during the evenings!)

We estimated that our kitchen and lives would probably be in upheval for the next two weeks. We’re hoping that after 14 days, we will have had time to make it to the grocery store and have some resemblence or order to our lives once again. We decided to move, found a place, did a walk through and signed a lease within 48 hours, so we didn’t have much time to put our plan into action. But managed it (along with laundry, packing and calling the utility companies) in 24 hours, here’s how…

The 14 Day Plan
During a move, everything in the world gets moved, sorted and packed. To make our 14 day plan we wrote out a calendar of the next two weeks and taped it to the fridge so we never lost track. We made sure to write down other engagments as well so we didn’t end up cooking something that took a full half hour to make when we’d really only have time for 5-10.

We keep a well stocked chest freezer full of meats, veggies (usually fresh that’s been steamed and sealed) and other assorted goodies. This is where we started and plugged in the protien we had on hand in different days, we did find that tubed meats and prepackaged chicken have been the most helpful. They thaw quickly and have been the most versitile. We also made sure to plug in meals that used tofu instead of meat for nights we were extra short on time.

We added in our veggies and although it’s just as easy to run to the store to pick up some fresh veg, we found it was beneficial to us to go frozen or canned. Having done a great deal of canning last season, we took full advantage of our previous efforts and dined on some of the most beautiful tomatoes, peaches, green beans, pears and roasted red peppers. They were easy to depend on and didn’t even require refrigeration.

Next, we made the assumption that 4 days out of the next two weeks, we were just going to be too tired to do any cooking. We wish we would have changed that number to 6 or 7, but 4 was a good starting point. For those days, we threw together meals that could freeze up and be thawed a day ahead of time in the fridge while we were at work. We made a short batch of lasagna, a chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese (with hot dogs in it of course!), and an at home version of hamburger helper. Each one was put in a dish, foiled over and frozen.

As we’ve been moving and unpacking boxes, we’ve come across a more expanded version of our kitchen supplies and things like 1 bowl brownies and smoothies have started to come back into the menu. We feel worlds better this move, are full of energy and haven’t been stressed about what we’re eating or where it’s coming from. Best of all, it’s made our kitchen functionable and sorted faster than any room in the house, which is a first for us!

We have loved having foods that pull double duty around, a pasta salad that keeps well and can be dinner one night and late night snacks the next. Or tortillas to make any leftover into a pressed sandwich.

What are your favorite moving tips? Is there anything you’d add to our emergency box? Let us know in the comments below!

(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)