What to cook when you're packing up your kitchen?

Last year I put my home up for sale. That meant putting appliances in storage. When the place didn't sell, I took it off the market for the winter holiday season and proceeded to cook. Yeah! In February it went back on the market and I returned to a barren looking kitchen, with appliances back in a storage locker. Now, happily, it appears that I have a firm deal (getting the papers tonight), with a closing date of April 21st. After that, everything goes into storage for a couple of weeks.

From now until then I'll be busy packing, and trying to use the remainder of refrigerated foodstuffs... sriracha, horseradish, butter, mustards ...that kind of thing. Most of my freezer is cleaned out so I don't have much to use there. I do have a wide variety of bulk bin types of things but limited time to cook them, so I'm going to pack the beans and grains etc away. The only thing I am purchasing are fruits, veggies, eggs and some dairy.

What do you like to cook or eat during a hectic time such as this, with limited tools...say, one pot dishes? I'm thinking of packing all my pots save one...a frying pan. Keeping the kettle out too. Between work and being focused on the move, I don't have time to go hunting for ideas. I'd appreciate suggestions for dishes that are quick to prepare, perhaps with 'typical' pantry items. Thanks!



ChefJune April 11, 2011
Favorite soups are always comforting, and perhaps never more than when your fruit basket is literally upset. I agree with SKK and all those who aver that cooking as long as you can is stress-reducing.

Egg dishes, and breakfast for dinner (French toast, waffles and the like) are easy, too. Don't abandon all your appliances. Some can get packed at the last minute.

And good luck! My Aunt Elsie always said that two moves were the equivalent of a burn-out....
StacyG April 8, 2011
I was thinking that a crockpot would cook up some good meals using those beans and grains you mentioned packing. Split pea soup is good in the crockpot. I've had good luck cooking beans in the cp all day on high without prior soaking.
latoscana April 7, 2011
How about:
Buy moo shu wrappers, choose perhaps chicken (cut into thin strips) or shrimp and saute along with julienned veggies, douse with whatever seasonings are still available, and enjoy.
Pan-fried salmon burgers (we like them with chow-chow, kind of corn-pepper-chile relish but could try a horseradish or mustard-based sauce).
Salade Nicoise - you can either pan-fry the potatoes or roast them (or boil or steam if you will have a sauce pan). A fresh salad is so welcome when all is in turmoil!
macollins April 7, 2011
Thanks for taking the time to offer suggestions everyone. I really appreciate them, especially since at this point in the process I've gotten used to lots of omelettes and pasta, which I'm getting tired of. I'm trying my best to stay away from take-out for the next couple of weeks...I'll be staying with friends between apartments and anticipate I'll get enough of it during that time.

I should have mentioned...no microwave. I will be using the oven (which will be easier once I pack away the cast iron pans that live in it)...planning on soaking rice noodles and sheets in boiling water from the kettle. My plan is to have a few tools, along with the frying pan and kettle, packed last in a special box so that I can easily find it in the unloading stage.

Will definitely try the suggestions, both now and while I unpack at the new place. Thanks again!
sarah K. April 7, 2011
Stir fry! There are endless possibilities for stir fry, chicken, steak, pork, eggs, shrimp, even beans. Just add any moderately quick cooking vegetable or combination, and dinner is done. I like steak with onions and carrots, chicken with cabbage or brussels sprouts, shrimp and celery, with some frozen peas tossed in at the end, and maybe some scallions or chives. Now's a good time for asparagus or garlic scapes, try those with pan-fried bacon or ham. Since all you need is a cutting board, a knife, and a skillet, you're all set.

Or... a salad with warm veggies or meat on top, like chicken slices and warm beets with a shallot vinaigrette.

Quesadillas! Or what my family calls Pizzadillas. Whole wheat tortilla with tomato sauce, mozarella, and pepperoni.

In our house, we're pretty happy with sauteed broccoli or cauliflower, and some grilled chicken or something. That's pretty quick.
innoabrd April 7, 2011
We move relatively often (5 countries in the last 15 years) so I like to think I have it down to science...I always keep out (or send in the air shipment, since the sea freight can take months to arrive): a chef's knife, a parring knife, an oxo veg peeler, a few stainless prep bowls, a saucepan and a decent sized saute pan.

Frittatas/tortillas are a good one, and one of our favorites (we used to eat it once a week, but have cut a lot of the starch from our diets) cauliflower pasta, which is basically just olive oil, garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes and cauliflower. Rissottos and paellas are also good one pan meals.
Sam1148 April 7, 2011
One last suggestion for using up the pantry item of sriracha sauce.
If you have Kosher salt..an oven, foil, ziplock bags.
1/2 cup kosher salt to 1 tablespoon siraracha sauce. Mix. Layer on foil in a 200 degree oven..turn off the oven..let dry overnight. It will clump up. Put in a ziplock bag and smash back to salt.
Use on boiled eggs, fried eggs, deviled eggs, salads..etc. A finishing salt for meats, seafood..etc.
It stores 'indefinitely' ..and makes nice a gift for people when you move.
mainecook61 April 6, 2011
With a kitchen renovation underway, I haven't had a real kitchen in 5 weeks (the end is near, though). I think we've had takeout once. Make things that you can get a couple of meals from: chili, homemade mac and cheese, pot roast, a roast chicken, fish steamed with ginger and soy. Baking has been impossible, so we keep some high class chocolate bars around for sweet cravings. It's been kinda fun, except for washing dishes in the bathroom sink.
mrslarkin April 6, 2011
Good call on the frying pan. I'd keep one pasta pot, too. Don't forget a few utensils to work with.

Last summer my oven was broken for like 5 weeks. We ate a lot of mac n cheese and made many frittatas. Then the stove top gave out. (It was a crazy summer.) I learned to make delicious simple tomato sauce in the microwave, which went onto our really fabulous grilled pizza. At that point, I think we dug up the toaster oven from the basement, but can't remember what I cooked in it.

Good luck with the sale!
pierino April 6, 2011
I feel your pain. I went through this a year ago Those packages of spicy Korean ramen which go for about 99 cents come in handy. Plus they give you your entire week's worth of salt dosage and radioactivity in one serving.
Sam1148 April 6, 2011
One of my favorite almost home made things is a rotisserie chicken. Sliced up, skin brushed with Hoisin sauce. On foil, broil to crisp up skin.
Small flour tortillas, brush with sesame oil, placed 'face to face' steamed in the microwave with wet paper towel on top for about 20 seconds.
Served with more Hoisin sauce and chopped green onions. Everyone wraps their own. (addtions, some lime slaw, or shreaded carrots). Rice as a side dish. And egg rolls.

Using some pre-made things and adding your own touches is perfectly fine for me for the mid week.

It's not spectacular. But it's quick and easy and not boring; and sometimes you just need that.
student E. April 6, 2011
i agree with SKK -- keep cooking! and yes, frittatas!
here are some easy ideas:
huevos rancheros (scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa on your favorite tortilla)
pasta puttanesca (tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers, anchovies -- pantry staples!)
tuna salad (capers, dijon mustard, vidalia onions, olive oil...serve on spinach as a salad or on toast)

Ophelia April 6, 2011
Tuna noodle salad (just as good warm as cold, and I've cooked noodles in frying pan, it works out as long as it's not non-stick and you keep an eye on water level), braised greens of any sort with fried eggs on top... If your eat meat you can't really go wrong with sausage and a salad.
SKK April 6, 2011
One more thought - my opinion based on having moved many times - is that home cooked food will keep you calm. Try not to get into the habit of take-out; the ritual of shopping and cooking (even in one pan) allows for an experience of connection. You may find yourself having a dinner party in this transition time.
SKK April 6, 2011
Mark Bittman to the rescue! He is a one pot kind of guy. http://markbittman.com/ is his blog. Also, with one pan you can do cannelline beans and spinach and peppers and cheese. You can fry halloumi and make sandwiches with all kinds of veggies. A one pan pizza - Bittman has the recipe and I remember seeing one here. Frittatas. Steak with vegetables on top or bottom. Macaroni and cheese. (I am assuming you have no oven - all these things can be done in a frying pan stove top. Ovens are pretty great.)
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/healthy-one-pan-recipes-recipe.html has a whole section on one pan recipes.
Can you tell I use one pan a lot?
If you need specific recipes, let me know. Happy moving!
Sam1148 April 6, 2011
Lots of take out.
Uncle Ben's 90 second rice is in my campbag as a pantry item. Just boil the bag if you don't have a microwave.
Pita bread, pizzas. Boboli makes a decent crust and sells individual packs of tomato sauce.
Smoke trout in the vac packs over boiled noodles (you should have at least one boiling pot out). With a horseradish/sour cream or mayo sauce and capers, sundried tomatoes if you got them.
Sandwiches, lettuce for salad. Chicken salad.
Chicken cutlets one night--cubed stir fried with some diced celery (they sell little snack packs of celery)..some cashews..green onions, and hosin sauce. In the lettuce cups.

And the old stand by---take out pizza. Re-heat it in the frying pan by the slice on med-low...it'll re-crisp the bottom crust that way.

Keep at least the frying pan, a boiling sauce pan, a small sheet pan and a roll of foil.

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