I take my kitchen for granted.  Last year, I turned 50 and decided that what I really wanted for my birthday was an upgrade in appliances.  We spend the majority of time in our kitchen, so this was the equivalent of new furniture to me.  Our dishwasher with the robin’s egg blue liner survived the 50’s and our white stove top had nasty splotches of burnt yellow in several spots.  The microwave was not awful, but once you replace the stove, the microwave has to match.  We kept our white frig since it was still fairly new.

Today I met someone that does not have a functioning kitchen.  Her frig is the college dorm type where the freezer is a layer of useless frost.  She’s very limited with space and cannot keep much perishable food. She only has a microwave and a toaster oven to cook with.  In addition, she’s on a limited budget. I didn’t realize how good I had it to have functioning appliances.  I was so spoiled to want new ones.

Her main concern was “what can I cook given what I have and still eat fairly healthy”?  She’s been living on grab and go foods at our local grocery, some that were healthy and the others pretty processed. Below are 3 simple recipes to create with limited cash, space and appliances.

  1. Black bean burritos.


1 can black beans, drained and rinsed


2% milk shredded cheese

4 whole wheat tortillas


  1. Place the beans and 3 Tbsp. salsa in a microwave safe bowl and mix together. Microwave for ~2 minutes, stir and microwave again for 2 minutes.
  2. Place 3 Tbsp. black beans on a whole wheat tortilla with 2 Tbsp. shredded cheese.
  3. Roll up and eat with additional salsa.

Makes 4 servings.


  1. Green eggs, no pan


1 egg

1 tsp. water

Non-stick cooking spray

1 cup fresh spinach leaves or other chopped veggies (onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.)

1 tsp. shredded cheddar cheese

1 whole wheat English muffin (optional)


Spray the inside of a small, glass cereal bowl with non-stick spray.

Crack 1 egg and add 1 tsp. water and scramble the egg in the bowl.

Place fresh spinach over the egg and microwave for 1 minute.

While the egg is cooking, toast the English muffin.

Take the egg out of the microwave and sprinkle cheese over the spinach.

Microwave the egg again for 20-30 seconds until the cheese is melted.

Take the muffin out of the toaster and put on a plate.

Fold the egg over twice and place on one half of the muffin, then place the other half of the muffin over it to make a sandwich.

Makes 1 sandwich, but more can be made.


  1. Thai peanut noodles with chicken


1 (16 oz bag) cooked pasta (Barilla)

1 can cooked chicken, drained

2/3 cup peanut butter

2 Tbsp. Teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup water


Place cooked pasta and chicken in a bowl

In a separate bowl, combine 2/3 cup peanut butter, ½ cup water and 2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce.

Microwave the sauce for 2 minutes and stir when done.

Pour peanut sauce over the noodles and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

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