Cooking without a stove
March 14, 2019 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Due to reasons my stove is unusable. I have been living on delivery food for more than a couple of months and it shows both in my weight and my wallet. I need to start cooking more but I'm not sure how to do it. I have a rice cooker and a toaster oven and I'm open to buying something else (a pressure cooker?) Any suggestions?
posted by Memo to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I was going to suggest what stewriffic suggested. I have a Max Burton 6450 which I use for brewing. It is so light and portable, and works very well. However, caveat is you will need a pot/pan that works. That can be tested with a magnet.
posted by terrapin at 10:51 AM on March 14

A toaster oven opens up a ton of possibilities too...
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 10:52 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

Yes, I came to suggest a portable cooktop like Stewriffic. You can also look into electric griddles or electric skillets, which are great for anything you don't want a pot for. Skillets tend to be more flexible because they have sides and lids, but griddles are easier to clean.
posted by Mizu at 10:53 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

Toaster ovens are great. When I was dependent on one, a big deal was having bakeware that fit in it -- depends on what yours is like, but you want to have a couple of things of various depths that you can bake or roast something on. At which point almost any oven recipe works in a toaster oven.
posted by LizardBreath at 10:54 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

If you have a tray for your toaster oven and it can hold a specific temperature for a certain amount of time, you could use it as a mini oven for roasting and baking. I have done baked potatoes, sweet potato slices, frozen fish/chicken pieces, etc. in mine and it's great. Also look up "sheet pan dinners" or "sheet pan meals" for other ideas - most involve slicing and seasoning veggies + protein and then tossing into the [toaster] oven for 30-60mins.

Depending on what kind of rice cooker you have, you can treat it like a slow cooker to make soups, beans, even desserts. Here are some ideas from Lifehacker and Buzzfeed. If you have the fancy Japanese kind that's programmable with a hinged top lid, you can do even more.

You could also look into buying a slow cooker with a saute function to do stuff like browning/frying, or the omnipresent Instant Pot.
posted by wintersonata9 at 10:57 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

I lived for four years in a basement suite with just a cheap-ish two burner cooktop, toaster oven, and microwave. I bought a Pyrex dishes that fit in the toaster oven and made all sorts of casseroles and lasagne, baked pasta, baked veggies etc. You can cook small cuts of meat or fish in a toaster oven if you eat those things. I made stir fries, soups, pasta on the cooktop. I actually ate very well and healthily in those four years! Now, I was never cooking for more than myself and one guest, so if you're cooking for a large family it might be trickier.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:04 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]

I like electric pressure cooker (eg: instant pot). Can saute, cook beans, stews, some even do yogurt (I use to ferment idli/dosa batter). Very hip so lots of recipe books/online blogs
posted by PistachioRoux at 11:08 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

You can do a lot with an induction burner and an Instant Pot.
posted by Candleman at 11:27 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]

You can make also treat your rice cooker as a light frying pan for veggies, scrambled eggs, etc. You can also crack an egg on top of just-cooked rice and let it steam-cook. Also, if you have a steamer basket for your rice cooker, you can steam fish, veggies, eggs, etc!
posted by devrim at 11:28 AM on March 14

I have been in your situation (stove-less) and I used a friend's kitchen (to cook together and separately) for bigger projects and batch cooking/baking. Do you have someone who lives close by? Or, better yet, a neighbor who might be open to this?
posted by annaramma at 11:41 AM on March 14

I have a one burner electric hot plate I got for my studio. The hot element is cast iron, so it heats evenly. I picked up a new oster toaster oven for $30, bakes all kinds of stuff, fish, potato wedges with a little olive oil fresh garlic and seasoning salt-18 minutes at 425 or so. I cook a lot but hardly ever am I using more than one burner for meals.
posted by Oyéah at 11:42 AM on March 14

I have a client who wants separate burners in his new kitchen, because it irritates him when the pots and pans are too close together on the stovetop. He has a huge family, and their pots and pans are big. So I've researched it, and I'm quite fascinated by the options. We're probably going for two gas burners and one induction top. The gas burners need to stand on a non-flammable surface, and we need to find a place for the gas container, but it will end up cheaper than a stovetop, more efficient (because the client can use the right burner for the right task), and much easier to keep clean. I think they are probably even going to keep the induction top in a cupboard when they don't need it, for even less clutter and cleaning. (And it may end up with three separate induction tops, because his wife is scared of the gas). The oven is going to be built into a cupboard. I wish I'd had this idea when I renovated my own kitchen.

Back in my very first own kitchen, 30 something years ago, we had two gas burners and a toaster oven in a tiny kitchen. It was great and we cooked all the food, but I still felt it was an upgrade to get a proper stovetop and I haven't thought of the old style as a possibility since till this client turned up. Now when I look at it, I think the allure of the "proper" stovetop was more about looking like a normal family than anything practical.

In your situation, I'd rather buy a portable cooktop than an Instant Pot, even though I use my pressure cooker very often. I think there are more options with a cooktop, and I would personally tire of only eating stuff that can go in a pot. Stuff like stir-frying, frying and egg and bacon, or a burger are all nice, and they are also very fast food options if you are arriving home late.
posted by mumimor at 12:05 PM on March 14

Don't dismiss something like the George Foreman grill. I used to laugh at them, but they do a great job with meats, tofu/tempeh, veggies, pressed sandwiches, quesadillas, etc. The newer ones have removable grill plates, so they're easy to wash. They are fast and effective and with some good spice blends from Penzeys or similar, you can have an easy and healthy meal prepped in no time.
posted by quince at 12:12 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]

InstantPot is very versatile and you can easily make meals with that plus your rice cooker and toaster oven. One of the things I really appreciate about my InstantPot is that there's a saute option, so you can caramelize onions or just fry whatever. If you don't already have a roasting tray for your toaster oven, get one and you'll be decently set up.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:40 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]

Portable induction cooktops are fantastic and I highly agree with getting those so you can essentially have a working stovetop. Keep in mind not all cookware will work on induction cooktops (it needs to be a magnetic grade of stainless steel. It's super easy to test: if a magnet sticks to the underside of your pot, it will work!) so you may want to pick up a convertor disk that will transfer the induction heat to your non-induction ready pans.

Another thing to consider: induction cooktops are safer than something like a griddle or electric skillets because they only heat the pan directly. When you remove a pot from them, the cooking surface is basically room temperature. I would feel a hell of a lot safer leaving one plugged in than I would with anything else. They also offer more versatility since you can use whatever pan is needed for the task.

Or, if you rarely use a frying pan, you really can do a lot in an Instant Pot since the sauté feature will let you do things like bring water to a boil or pan fry anything. But keep in mind it's a deep stock pot style insert so you can't, like, easily make pancakes in it because it'd be too hard to flip. As far as I know, you can't adjust the temperature of the Instant Pot while using it to sauté so it will always be medium-high so that cuts down on options.

Instant Pots give you a lot more bang for your buck than most slow cookers since they do have the sauté function and a bunch of different modes (like for rice, though you already have that covered), and personally I find it much easier to make a quick meal in the Instant Pot than to plan out the slow cooking timing. It's nice to brown meat before cooking, too, something slow cookers require either a stovetop for (if the insert is stovetop safe) or a stovetop + pan for if the insert is non-removable/stovetop safe.

One last thing I'd buy: I use an electric kettle to heat up water for tea or for oatmeal packets. I have a variable temperature one so that it does more temperature than just boiling, but if you don't need that feature they're pretty cheap. You could use it to rehydrate things like rice noodles that don't need to be boiled for a long time to soften.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:02 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

If you make three lists of: food you like to eat, food that makes you healthier, and food that's not too much hassle to cook, what's the overlap? Then pick the kitchenette tools that make those.

Like, my household is beans-and-soup-happy, so we used to use stovetop pressure cookers and were early enthusiasts of the Instant Pot. But lots of people only need a wok or skillet and a little rice maker. Some people live off the grill. A raw foods housemate only needed a really sharp knife and some Cambros for soaking.
posted by clew at 1:37 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

I listed my favorite appliances in a recent answer; I have a stove and oven but use those appliances 90% of the time.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:01 PM on March 14

I live in a studio that has a sink/countertop area and a small fridge but no real stove or oven. I get by very well with a combination of a toaster oven (which you mention you already have) and a portable induction burner. This is the one I use, but there are lots of others out there too. I've heard the one IKEA makes is pretty decent as well.
posted by second banana at 3:49 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]

We don't have a functional full sized range/cooktop/oven, and it's been 9 months now and we're not worried about it. We are three people in one apartment and use, with at least daily frequency:

Electric Kettle (cordless generic)
Microwave Oven (generic)
Toaster Oven (frozen pizza sized)
Instant Pot (actual)
Blender (vintage oster)

Weekly or so we use:

Contact Grill (t-fal)
Air fryer (also t-fal)

The IP unit is good for sauteeing as well as cooking up pasta, anything that wants to be browned or simmered. We don't have a hot-plate or induction burner; the IP does most of that for us, the contact grill and air fryer do the rest with much less grease spatter than a open frying.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:54 PM on March 14

What do you like to eat? I like soup, stew, chili, so a crockpot or Instapot would be great for me. And I stirfry, so an burner of some sort, or even an electric frying pan.

I see free stoves on craigslist/free frequently.
posted by theora55 at 4:50 PM on March 14

Nthing the George Foreman grill. I love mine for making burgers, chicken breast, steaks and pork chops. They cook quickly and have a nicely grilled flavor. Mine also functions as a panini press, and a griddle for cooking eggs, bacon and pancakes.

I use my crockpot a lot. I do a couple different bean soups, vegetable soup and chili over the course of a month. Of course if you are making a big pot of something, you'd want some way of re-heating the leftovers in which case you might want to get a small microwave or hot plate. Or possibly you could do it in the toaster oven, in a casserole dish.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:51 PM on March 14

We picked up an instant pot after the last instant pot thread (the mini) and ended up using it while our stove was out of order for two weeks. Steam with broth for some good no-added fat meals.

Rice cookers can be used for some additional grains like quinoa, but unfortunately not grits.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:58 PM on March 14

« Older Privacy covering for a chain link fence?   |   Why do I have $1000 in my google play account? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments