For generations, people cooked their food with minimal kitchen equipment. I think that this proves that we need surprisingly little in order to have a workable kitchen. However, we have become accustomed to our many and varied kitchen gadgets and utensils, so the thought of not having all that equipment while living on a building site can be a bit daunting. This leads us to the question: What exactly do you need in order to cook while living on a building site? We decided to write up some of our building site cooking tips.
In my mind, cooking on a building site is very similar to cooking at a camping site. Don’t expect to be rustling up wedding cakes and Michelin star-worthy delights. But, for your every day meals of spaghetti bolognaise, curries and stews, only the basics are required.
A little more care is required when planning meals for a long-term building site, because months of cheap and easy food is probably not the best for your health. If your kitchen is only going to be down for a few days as in the case of a kitchen renovation, then paper plates, cereal and sandwiches will suffice. Long term, as in our case where we won’t have a kitchen for quite some time, a little more thought is required.
Louis and Gwen have worked on sites all over the country for many years. A huge silver lining for their rather nomadic lifestyle is that they’ve had the opportunity to see and experience many areas of South Africa. Another result of this is that Gwen has become a pro at cooking on building sites. So, I asked her for her input for this article.
Building Site Cooking Tips – Basic Equipment
This is the basic equipment you will need to prepare food on a building site:
- Gas cooker
- Good lighter and backup matches
- Medium pot, small pot and pan
- Egg lift and spatula
- Stirring/wooden spoon
- Tin opener
- Bread board
- Sharp knife
Building Site Cooking Tips – Shortcuts
If you are working on a building site, chances are that you’ll lose track of time. Therefore, shortcuts to help you prepare quick meals are useful. Obviously, sticking to healthy options is best.
If you are planning on eating rice at dinner, here’s an easy method to prepare it: While eating your lunch, boil rice in a pot with a well-fitting lid for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the rice to steam until dinner. At dinner all you’ll need to do is warm up the rice to eat with your meal.
If you don’t have access to a microwave, two-minute noodles can be cooked in a similar manner in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Place your noodles with required spices and salt into the good quality plastic container. Pour boiling water over the noodles and seal. After ten minutes unseal the container in order to equalize the pressure. Reseal until you are ready to eat.
A quick and easy (and delicious) curry can easily be made up by frying some vegetables of your choice. Add a tin of Indian flavoured tomato mix and a tin of chickpeas. If you don’t wish to have a vegetarian dish, the chickpeas can be swapped with your choice of protein. Chili Con Carne can be made similarly with a tin of Mexican flavoured tinned tomato and mince.
Pre-prepared vegetables and packet sauces can be very helpful in preparing quick and easy meals. Ready-cooked chicken can stretch over several meals, should you have a refrigerator in which to keep the meat. Chicken can be used in salads, stews, stir-fries, sandwiches, etc.
Cooking on the Container House Project Building Site
We knew that we’d be cooking under less than ideal circumstances for many months. Therefore, we have kitted out our kitchen area with a little more than the basics as described above. Our biggest problem is that we have limited power on site. This means that we cannot run many electrical appliances all at once and for cooking, we can run one appliance at at a time. Planning has become essential in order to decide the best order in which to cook each component of our meal.
We have a two plate stove, two gas cookers, a microwave and kettle. We also have the added advantage of having an air fryer and a rice cooker; two appliances I wouldn’t wish to live without. As we leave early in the morning for work, we also have to take into consideration breakfast and lunch for the next day. We often cook double dinners so that there are left overs to pack into our lunchboxes. For breakfast, an egg boiler has proven its worth.
Of course, learning to cook on building sites has sure helped us cope during load shedding!
Do you have any building site or load shedding cooking tips to add? Leave us a comment! We’d love to hear about them.