Cooking isn’t just a necessary part of life for many people: it’s an enjoyable hobby and creative outlet. If you love the culinary arts, you undoubtedly appreciate having a spacious kitchen to work in, but that’s not always a reality — especially if you live in a tiny apartment.
Perhaps you used to enjoy cooking, but your new tiny kitchen makes you feel stifled, or maybe you’ve always had a small kitchen and don’t think you have enough space to cook — neither of these have to restrict you. There are ways to enjoy cooking again (or for the first time), no matter how few feet are between your stove and refrigerator. Here’s how.
1. Multiply your prep area. An ideal cooking area allows you to spread out and multi-task through the process of preparing a meal, but counter space is scarce in small, compact kitchens. To address this, first make sure you’re not cluttering available counters with unnecessary items that aren’t used on a regular basis. Secondly, here are a few suggestions for multiplying your prep area even further:
- Use a glass-top stove as another countertop (just make sure all the burners are off!)
- Place grate covers, cookie sheets, or large cutting boards over conventional stove tops.
- Span the sink with a cutting board (you can even buy one especially built for this purpose).
- Lay a cutting board or cookie sheet across an open drawer.
- Utilize tiered cooling racks to hold prepared materials or prepped dishes.
2. Clean as you go. Not only is there precious little prep space in a small kitchen, dirty dishes and messes take over quickly. Cleaning up as you go keeps the work area clear and means less cleanup when you’re done.
- If you know you’ll be using multiple measuring spoons, cups, and prep bowls, choose one of each and rinse them out in between uses.
- Peel produce and make floury messes over a plastic bag, paper towel, or designated scrap bowl so they can be easily scooped up and discarded.
3. Prep smart. Have you ever noticed how chefs on cooking shows already have everything measured out and ready to go? This isn’t just for appearances: it’s actually a great practice for every kitchen! For instance, if a recipe calls for chopped vegetables, a homemade sauce, or roasted garlic, complete these tasks ahead of time so they’re not all competing for prep space when it comes time to cook. When you’re working on a multi-step recipe, split it up into several small jobs you can complete in advance and then ‘assemble’ smoothly. You’ll not only work smarter, you’ll look and feel like a pro.
4. Convenience is important. Having to get items in and out of deep or high cupboards on a regular basis will not encourage your ambition to cook. Keep frequent-use items easily accessible, even if that means:
- mounting pots and pans from a wire hanger.
- storing cookie sheets on top of the cupboards or refrigerator.
- using magnetic spice tins directly attached to your stove.
Don’t worry about whether a storage solution seems odd as long as it’s functional for your cooking habits.
5. Get the right gadgets. Smaller kitchens will allow fewer small appliances and gadgets, so it’s important to get tools that can either:
(1) perform more than one function, like a Bin 8 Multi Kitchen Tool, or
(2) do their job exceptionally well, like with completely nesting pots.
Other gadgets tiny kitchen cooks find indispensable are:
- an immersion blender
- an electric portable range or hot plate
- a crock pot (because it can be plugged in anywhere)
- a toaster/convection oven
Not all of your appliances should live on the counter unless you use them daily. Store them in a cupboard or even in another room until they’re needed.
6. Make simple renovations. More than one tiny kitchen cook recommends replacing a regular-height faucet with a taller one, which allows you to fit larger dishes in the sink. It’s an inexpensive and easy upgrade your landlord should approve. Another simple space-creating solution if you don’t have enough cupboards is to install cheap shelving and store everything in the open (it also happens to be a popular trend).
7. Stick with simple recipes. Cooking in a small kitchen will take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to a larger one. Although it’s possible to ‘cheat’ on complex recipes by using fewer separate bowls and pans for each step, it’s best to start simple to get a feel for what your kitchen can handle. Besides, basic recipes that only require 1-2 separate steps and little prep space can be just as delicious as more elaborate fare.
Tiny living means sacrificing a bit of space, but it also allows you to get more creative about how to continue enjoying your favorite hobbies. Practice a few of these tips and don’t stop cooking!