How To Prepare Food Without A Kitchen

August 31, 2011

Much of what I write about is home cooking. I have received emails from Foodista readers, wondering how they can make home cooking happen in their circumstances. Here is one such question. 

Q. What happens if you don't have a conventional kitchen? 

If you do not have a conventional kitchen or just have a kitchenette to prepare food at, you can still cook safely and effectively. A crockpot is a must have for any kitchen, but this is especially true, if you don't have a stove. Crockpots can be plugged in anywhere. They do get warm on the outside, but are compact and can be placed on an end table or simply on the floor if needed. 

Crockpots are a common item at any thrift store. I have purchased them over the years from the thrift, and have never paid more than $5.00 for a used one. Look for one that has little wear, a tight fitting lid, and a cord that is undamaged. Crockpots are good for cooking virtually anything in. They can even heat water for tea or coffee, or to wash up with. Trust me. I know this for a fact. 

A crockpot is safer than a hot plate. It does cook slower, but if something rests against the outside of the crockpot accidentally, it won't burst into flames. 

Try to pick up a crockpot at a thrift store as soon as possible. They will change the way you think about cooking. 

Cooking healthy foods means you will have to be able to cut and peel things safely. The next item you will need, is a sharp knife. A short pairing knife can be used for every bit of your food preparation. Yes, I realize it may not be the proper item for all types of food prep, but it can be done. If you can find a cutting board along with that knife, it will make your life that much easier. Buy one that will fit in your sink easily for washing. I mark mine one one side, so I cut meat one one side, and everything else on the other. 

So, go to your thrift store and find a pairing knife that is NOT serrated(a smooth blade, not a jagged one). Serrated knifes are garbage and they are unsafe to use. For purists, I realize that there must be good quality serrated knives, but they will not end up in the 5 cent bin at a local thrift store. 

The takeaway for today is: 

Find a thrift store

Buy a crockpot, a pairing knife and a cutting board, in that order. 

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NickelX's picture

No way--crockpots take WAY too long! ELECTRIC SKILLET! My family of 4 lived for 2 months in a hotel suite and an electric skillet. We had a small, full-sized refrigerator and sink. That's it. It's a challenge but it IS possible. Lots of stir frys with ready-made rice packs were easy-peasy and tasty!

Amy Jeanroy's picture

I love electric skillets! They would be my number two must have though, and here is why:

Crockpots can hold more liquid, stretching food further, into soups and stews. 

Crockpots also can be set to cook safely when you are not there, making food ready to eat when you get back. 

Most of all, crockpots are readily available at thrift stores, electric skillets -  not so much. 

I would say they are a must have after you have a crockpot. And I love those stir fry's too!


Thanks for posting. 



Doris's picture

I use an electric skillet during the summer and I can just about fix our entire meal with it except for the salad. Saves on heat in the house too. There are only two of us so it is different from what other people have to cook meals for. Enjoy your site.

Jessica's picture

I never thought of the electric skillet. We use them all the time for breakfasts, but I rarley use it for much else. I will start using it much more. I love my crockpots! I use them so so much!