What I’ve Learned From 7 Months Without Using A Stove

published Mar 7, 2011
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(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

For the last 7 months my husband and I have lived without a stove, or rather properly run utilities to operate the stove we own. For many small space city dwellers this isn’t anything shocking as many homes are without this kitchen staple, but for the rest of us, not owning a stove is like saying you don’t wear underpants — it’s just not done, or at least not discussed in public. Here’s how we’re doing so far…

Late this summer my husband and I moved into an old church and for lack of a better term, the “stage” became our kitchen (don’t worry you’ll get a full tour when it’s finished!). We spent the first several months just trying to get working plumbing and a few working electrical outlets so we could keep a refrigerator running and potentially one additional outlet to run an extra small appliance.

We were ready for the challenge and even asked everyone for advice! We psyched ourselves out and told ourselves it was going to be like camping every day and although our 6 year old selves thought that was pretty awesome, the 30 something old selves were very ready to fry an egg without a struggle.

In our kitchen we have the following small appliances that have made life possible:
• Electric Kettle
• Electric Skillet
• Dual Burner Hot Plate
• Crock Pot
• Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

We started our swearing not much would change and that our hot plate would suffice during our transitional period. I wish more than anything we would have thought otherwise because one we purchased an electric skillet it was all smooth sailing. The hot plate took forever to heat up, didn’t stay consistent and wasn’t really able to cook two things at once and you could just forget about boiling water — plus it rusted. The skillet was the way to go and although it has an obvious ring of heat under it, as long as you’re aware of it’s cooking pattern, it’s not really a big deal to work with and it really heats up…. we even made caramel this past holiday season!

The electric kettle has been invaluable when it comes to making things like instant potatoes (shhh don’t tell), tea or just boiling noodles a little faster. The crock pot has been the way to go as not having a stove means taking a little longer to do things. A crock pot is always the same and has been a true campion.

The toaster oven has been the real champion and although we’ve never owned one before, we had heard such gleaming reviews from other writers here at The Kitchn and all of our readers that we were confident in our purchase. So much in fact, we even sold our microwave before leaving our last home. The only thing a toaster oven can’t do is bake things other than flat pastries. If you’re looking to buy one and want to bake anything at all… bigger is better. Just trust me.

(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

Aside from using smaller appliances to get the job done, we’ve also changed what we’ve been eating to help accommodate the circumstances. It will be much easier with summer upon us as it will become more normal to eat sandwiches and grilled foods with more frequency. In the next few months we hope to have our kitchen wired for electricity and gas so our stove can once and for all have a home and become operational.

Although it’s been different, it hasn’t been impossible and if I were buying a new place that didn’t come with this appliance, I would be more than happy to settle for buying a toaster oven and electric skillet and saving my pennies for the exact stove and oven I wanted. Never before would I have thought this was an option, but we’ve been able to get by, you just have to think a bit harder about what your menu is comprised of to ensure you always have the time to cook what you desire!

Do you live somewhere that doesn’t have a stove or an oven? How have you gotten by? Have you grown to accept it or are you still struggling to get the hang of things? Share your thoughts in the comments below!