But I grossly underestimated our home reno newbness, and here we are, going on month nine. In fact we quickly went from “we’re going to gut the whole thing”, to “what can we skimp on to make this go faster“.
To be honest, I’ve spent the summer being frustrated about it. Frustrated with myself, with my husband, with trying to figure out how to juggle working on the house and taking care of the kids, and more than anything, frustrated because of what I don’t know.
BUT, we’ve been making some great progress on it! On Monday, I finished the two walls we decided to hang drywall on, and the next day, we started putting up ceiling in the living room. Now THAT makes me happy!
Next week, I’ll hopefully have a lot more of an update on the actual house, but today, I thought it would be interesting to talk about how we’re managing to keep the kids fed while spending so much time out there with no amenities other than an extension cord running from the barn, and a water spigot in the garden.
The answer is two words: Instant Pot!
The Instant Pot is a fairly expensive little tool, but surprisingly, it’s been one of the most essential tools to our remodel project, and totally worth every single penny. I’d rate is just above the Rotozip, and just below the cordless drill. 😉
You’ll have to excuse the lack of pictures – I don’t usually think to photograph our meals eaten on the paint-splattered sub-floors, our of plastic rubbermaid containers, with plastic spoons!
Baked beans and hamburger. The kids love baked beans, and I like to brown some ground meat (usually turkey) to add to them to make it a full meal. Often, I’ll make the beans at home and portion them out into the aforementioned rubbermaid containers rather than brining the Instant Pot or slow cooker to heat them, because the kids don’t mind eating cold beans.
Sausage/rice/broccili/rice/cheese casserole. I know, that’s a clunky name for it, but I don’t know what else to call it! My mom used to make it sans sausage as a yummy side dish, but I added sausage to make it a one-pot meal. Simply brown a pound of sausage and add it too the instant pot with some rice and water, top it with a healthy portion of frozen broccoli, and cook in the instant pot. When it’s done, add the cheese you hopefully remembered to bring with you, stir it, and serve!
The first time I made this one at the house, I made the mistake of bringing the sausage raw, and cooking the whole thing start to finish there in the pot. Well, you can’t get a lot of work done while you’re baby sitting browning meat, so now I brown it at home, combine all the ingredients (except cheese), and plug it in when I get to the house.
Chicken and rice. Just a 1:1 ratio of water in the instant pot, then chicken legs on top (heavily salted!). Select “poultry” and set the time to 60 minutes.
Chicken soup. Shredded chicken, potatoes, carrots, chicken broth, and any other vegetables cooked together again, in the instant pot. So delicious!
Instant Pot Hamburger Helper. You can find our favorite recipe here. This one is a little more complicated to make out at the house, because it involves taking several components separately, The meat, the liquid, the pasta, and the cheese. But on the upside, it’s super tasty, and only takes a few minutes to cook!
Leftovers. This can easily be done in a slow cooker too of course. I usually scoop leftovers into the pot, keeping them as separate as possible, and just hit the “warm” setting. Our latest batch of leftovers consisted of meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, and sautéed vegetables. Super easy, but the kids aren’t always thrilled with it. 😛
So, while I’m mudding, sanding drywall, or painting, the instant pot is sitting in a little corner of the empty laundry room, quietly cooking our lunch.
To be perfectly honest, we don’t usually spend the whole day out at the house, but taking lunch with us is a huge stress reliever, just knowing that I don’t have to run home before the kids get hungry and cranky. So we try to get out there by 9:30, and usually are home by 2:00, when we’re all ready for a break.
That way I can spend the afternoon keeping up with the housework in the house we’re actually living in, and spending time with the kids.
As you can tell, a lot of these one-pot Instant pot lunches don’t include a lot of veggies. At first I felt really conflicted about that, and I tried putting broccoli, or squash on top, but they just cooked to much by the time the meat and/or rice was done, and weren’t very pleasant at all.
To balance the lack of lunch veggies, we’ve beefed up the vegetable content of our other meals and snacks through veggie omelets for breakfast, green smoothies for snacks and/or breakfast, and veggie-heavy dinners.
It’s not a perfect system, but it’s only temporary, and it’s allowing me to make much more progress on the house that we can’t wait to move into!