Cooking without a kitchen
This guide can help you or your workplace or organization plan and prepare meals and snacks with a variety of nutrients even when there is no access to a kitchen. We've created food lists for several situations, based on the food preparing equipment you may have available.
Use the lists to gather ingredients for meals and snacks based on the food available to you. Whether you’re using food from your pantry, receiving delivered food, or going to the grocery store, you can vary the foods you eat to make sure you and your family are getting the nutrients you need.
You also can use the lists to help you put together an emergency kit to have on hand in the event of a power outage or other shelter-in-place event.
Hotel or guesthouse managers
Copy the guide that best fits the equipment available in your rooms and distribute it to your guests. If possible, consider providing the suggested utensil kit for guests who will be preparing food in their rooms. If you provide a utensil kit, run all items, including the box and lid, through the dishwasher to clean for another use.
Food shelves and food pantries
Distribute lists with food packages to individuals and families who are in temporary housing. Use the guides to make lists of suggested donations for supplies, equipment and food.
Use the lists to assemble meal kits for your local hotels and guesthouses that provide temporary housing. Kits could range from providing utensil kits to complete food and utensil kits for each resident.
Follow these safe food-handling practices to prevent food-borne illness.
- Wash hands with soap under running water for 20 seconds before preparing food. If water isn’t available, rub hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat or eggs, after handling non-food items such as a cell phone, and after using the toilet.
- Rinse produce under running water (do not use soap, bleach or cleaning products) before peeling, cutting or preparing.
- Clean up spills with soapy water.
- Wash dishes and utensils in soapy water, rinse with clean water, air dry.
- Empty garbage daily.
- Keep cold foods cold. Use a refrigerator or cooler with ice (drain water and add fresh ice daily or as needed).
- Refrigerate promptly. Do not eat prepared food left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
- Keep cool and dry. Do not store food and dishes near heat, in the bathroom, under sinks, or near chemicals or garbage.
- Store food in closed containers and packages to prevent insects and contamination.
- Use or discard leftover food within 7 days of refrigeration.
Food that is safe at room temperature
These foods stay fresher longer if refrigerated but do not require refrigeration for food safety.
- Firm or aged cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, aged gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Processed American cheese
- Jerky, dry sausages, snack sticks, summer sausage, hard salami and freeze-dried meat
- Butter and margarine; discard if rancid odors develop
- Fresh whole fruit
- Fruit juice; discard if moldy, cloudy, bubbling, or has an off-odor
- Fresh unpeeled vegetables
- Condiments like ketchup, mustard, relishes, salad dressing, olives, pickles, jams, jellies, syrup
Food lists and utensil kit
These lists are based on the equipment available to you if you are staying in a temporary shelter, such as a hotel, camping or otherwise without access to a working kitchen.
- 16-quart plastic container with a lid to store utensils and wash dishes
- Medium size plastic cutting board
- Can opener
- Small colander
- 4-cup glass bowl with lid
- 8-cup glass bowl with lid
- 1-cup plastic measuring cup
- Plastic measuring spoons
- Large spoon for stirring
- Hot pads
- Liquid dish soap
- Paring knife
- Plate, bowl and eating utensils
No cooking equipment available
Helpful utensils: spoon, bowl, plate
Meal and snack ideas
- Peanut butter sandwiches: Spread peanut butter on a slice of bread or cracker. Top with jam or slices of banana and another slice of bread or cracker.
- Pork and beans sandwich: Spoon pork and beans onto bread or buns.
- Trail mix: Combine dry cereal, dried fruit, and nuts or seeds.
- Granola bar bites: Mix peanut butter with powdered milk (if available), stir in granola, dried cereal or dried fruit. Shape into balls to eat.
- Fruit crisp: Sprinkle granola or a broken granola bar on canned peaches or other fruit.
|100% juice boxes, cans or bottles||Canned vegetables (pull top can)||Bread||Nut butter||Powdered or shelf-stable milk||Canned chili|
|Apples||Canned beans||Cold cereal||Nuts||Pudding cups||Canned ravioli|
|Applesauce||Crackers||Peanut butter||Canned soup|
|Bananas||Granola||Sunflower seeds||Canned stew|
|Dried fruit||Tuna||Granola bars|
|Fruit cups||Jam or jelly|
Hot water available
Helpful utensils: spoon, bowl, plate, can opener
Meal and snack ideas
- Flavored oatmeal: Cook oatmeal packet and stir in fresh, canned or dried fruit, or peanut butter.
- Black bean and corn salsa: Stir together salsa and drained cans of black beans and corn. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.
- Easy Spanish rice: Add boiling water to instant rice and let sit a few minutes to cook. Stir in salsa. Add canned corn and black beans, if desired.
- Souped-up rice or potatoes: Add boiling water to instant rice or instant mashed potatoes and let sit a few minutes to cook. Spoon canned stew or soup over the top.
Additional foods to add if you have access to hot water
|Black beans||Instant oatmeal||Powdered or shelf-stable milk|
|Canned corn||Instant rice||Pudding cups|
|Instant mashed potatoes||Tortilla chips|
Refrigerator and microwave available
Helpful utensils: spoon, fork, knife, bowl, plate, can opener, microwave-safe bowl with cover, dish soap, paper towels
Meal and snack ideas
- Scrambled eggs: Break eggs into a bowl; beat with a fork, adding a little water. Microwave on high to cook, stirring after 45 seconds, cook another 30-45 seconds until eggs are almost set.
- Yogurt parfait: Top yogurt with fresh, canned, or dried fruit and granola, trail mix or dry cereal.
- Peanut butter cream: Stir peanut butter into plain or vanilla yogurt. Eat by the spoonful or as a dip with apples, bananas, carrots, or crackers.
- Bean soup: Combine 1 can chili beans, 1 can stewed tomatoes or jar of salsa, and 1 can drained corn.
- Tortilla roll-ups: Spread refried beans on tortillas and top with cheese. Roll up tortilla and microwave to heat. Dip in salsa.
- Tuna mac: Cook macaroni and cheese, add tuna and canned peas
- Minnesota hot dish: Cook pasta, stir in cream soup and drained cans of chicken or tuna and peas.
- Chili potato: Scrub a potato, poke it with a fork or knife, microwave until cooked (about 10 minutes). Cut in half and spoon chili over the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Additional foods to add if you have access to a refrigerator and microwave
|Canned fruit||Baby carrots||Microwave popcorn||Eggs||Cheese||Mac and cheese|
|Canned vegetables||Tortillas||Cheese sticks|
Reviewed in 2020