On Tiny Kitchens: Seven Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

Myth: You can’t cook in a small kitchen.

Reality:  Bollocks!  You just need to get creative.

I live in a 250 square foot Manhattan studio, and I cook from scratch all the time.  Granted, my 250 sq ft is extremely well laid out, and I have the luxury of an “eat-in kitchen.”  This means that on top of my four square inches of counter space, I have room for what I’ve dubbed my Multi-TaSkEr.  “Multi” from the Latin word meaning “many,” and TaSkEr being a Smurd made up of table + desk + counter.

Here are seven tips I’ve discovered for cooking in a small kitchen:

1) Create space

There’s plenty of ways to create storage and counter space.  Start by going vertical.  My studio came with one cabinet above the sink, one cabinet below, and no drawers.  I brought in my multi-TaSkEr and a tall thin pantry that my mom found for $69 at Big Lots.  Yep, Big Lots. A letter box from Pottery Barn was turned into a wall-mounted spice rack.  I’d originally planned on installing cup hooks to hang measuring spoons and the like, but I didn’t need to in the end.

2) Find alternate surfaces

I had a studio-dwelling friend who used to wash her floor, tape down newspaper, tape down wax paper, put down a floured pastry cloth, watch where she walked, and roll out her cut-out cookies.  If that grosses you out and you live in NYC, well, you also ride the subway.  So there’s that.

3) Let the butcher do the work

Don’t let a complicated, space sucking cut job prevent you from making a stuffed pork loin.  There’s no shame in asking the butcher to butterfly or de-bone for you.  It’s what they’re there for.

4) Clean as you go

Besides making your after-dinner job easier, cleaning as you go frees up counter space and pots that you may want to use again later on in the recipe.

5) Only get the bare essentials

You don’t need an entire block of knives or a KitchenAid Mixer to make great meals.  (But I want one.  Real bad.)  Those 10-pc sets are tempting, but spend your money on a few quality things.  Quality cookware will last a long time, and you won’t believe the difference it makes in your cooking.  For starters, I highly recommend splurging on this set from All Clad, which comes with your three basic pots and pans.  You’ll also probably want a 12 inch non-stick skillet.  And if you’re like soups, stews, and sauces, save up for a 5 1/2 qt Le Creuset (they have an outlet if you’re really looking to save.)  For knives, start with a chef’s Knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.  I promise that’s all you really need.

6) Stock the basic ingredients

Don’t let being under-stocked stop you from cooking!  You don’t have to run out and buy turmeric and marjoram, but pick up the basics.  A good place to start is extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, a pepper grinder, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  (Sorry parsley.)

7) Stop making excuses and just do it

Above all, it comes down to actually wanting to cook.  Nobody is forcing you to do it.  So if you want to, don’t be lazy.  Get creative, stock up on the basics, and make it work!

Do you have a small kitchen?  Tell me how you deal with it in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “On Tiny Kitchens: Seven Tips for Cooking in Small Spaces

  1. Tiana says:

    My favorite creative surface maker: I used to pull out my kitchen drawers and put cutting boards across. Double the space in seconds!

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