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Small Space Cooking: Tips for Tiny Kitchens

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Small Space Cooking: Tips for Tiny Kitchens

Embracing the Challenges of a Petite Culinary Domain

About two years ago, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and move into a tiny vintage trailer. After years of renting larger homes, the prospect of downsizing to roughly 180 square feet was both exciting and daunting. But as a self-proclaimed foodie and cookbook hoarder, my primary concern was how I would adapt to cooking in a minuscule kitchen.

You see, I’ve worked in all types of kitchens, from commercial behemoths to grandma’s cozy country space. But I’ve learned the most valuable lessons in my current tiny domain. It took some time and patience to get used to my diminutive culinary quarters, but I’ve grown to love the unique challenges it presents. With a little creativity and some handy organizational tricks, I’ve discovered that magical things can happen in even the smallest of kitchens.

Mise en Place: The Key to Sanity

In my opinion, the golden rule of small space cooking is to always, always, always practice mise en place. This fancy French term simply means “everything in its place.” It’s an absolute essential when you’re working with limited countertop real estate.

Big kitchens allow you the luxury of chopping and prepping as you cook, but that convenience doesn’t exist in a tiny kitchen. Instead, I make it a point to have all my ingredients prepped and ready to go before I even turn on the stove. I’ll dice and chop my veggies, herbs, and other components, then store them in small bowls or wrap them in plastic wrap until I need them. If I’m feeling particularly organized, I’ll even use little piles on my cutting board to keep things tidy.

Homecooking Rocks has a great article on the benefits of mise en place, and how it can transform your cooking experience, no matter the size of your kitchen.

Doubling Up: Multifunctional Furniture to the Rescue

In a tiny kitchen, every inch of space is precious. That’s why I’ve become a big fan of furniture and tools that serve double (or even triple!) duty. Take my beloved oversized cutting board, for example. It may seem counterintuitive to have a large prep surface in a petite space, but it’s a total game-changer.

When I’m not using it for chopping and slicing, I simply plop it right on top of my stove, instantly creating additional counter space. And when I need to access the burners, I just move the board aside. I’ve also discovered the joys of an over-the-sink cutting board, which allows me to utilize that often-neglected area.

Another nifty trick is to use tiered cooling racks to double your prep space. I keep my compost bowl on the top tier and arrange prepped ingredients on the other levels. It’s a simple solution that really maximizes every square inch.

Vertical Thinking: Wall Space is Prime Real Estate

In a tiny kitchen, the walls are your best friend. Don’t let that precious vertical space go to waste! I’ve installed wall-mounted shelves, magnetic knife racks, and even a spice rack on the front of my fridge to keep essential items within easy reach.

The Pioneer Woman has some great tips on utilizing wall space, including hanging pots, pans, and kitchen tools to free up cabinet and counter space.

Essentials Only: Curating Your Culinary Arsenal

Let’s be honest – how often do you really use that avocado slicer or melon baller? In a tiny kitchen, every single item you own needs to earn its keep. I’ve made it a point to stock only the essentials, keeping my cookware, bakeware, cutlery, and small appliances to a minimum.

As a food blogger, I can attest that even I don’t need most of the single-use gadgets and appliances that clutter up many home kitchens. A good chef’s knife, a set of reliable pots and pans, and a few versatile small appliances like an immersion blender and hand mixer are really all you need. Trust me, your countertops (and sanity) will thank you.

Cleaning as You Go: The Tiny Kitchen Dance

Cooking in a petite space can quickly turn into a chaotic mess if you don’t stay on top of the cleanup. That’s why I’ve made “clean as you go” my mantra. It’s a delicate dance, but one that’s essential for maintaining order in a tiny kitchen.

One minute, your little domain is spotless, and the next, it looks like the Swedish Chef has wreaked havoc. That’s why I make it a point to rinse and reuse tools and dishes whenever possible, rather than grabbing a new one every time. I also keep a bowl or bag handy for food scraps, whisking them away as I go to avoid a cluttered countertop.

Food52 has some brilliant ideas for keeping a small kitchen tidy, including using over-the-sink drying racks and magnetic storage solutions.

Entertaining in a Tiny Kitchen: Embrace the Challenges

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced in my tiny kitchen is hosting guests for dinner. It can be a daunting prospect, but I’ve learned to embrace the challenges and get creative.

Rather than attempting an elaborate multi-course meal, I usually opt for simple, one-dish wonders like lasagna or enchiladas. This allows me to focus on prep and execution without becoming overwhelmed by a chaotic kitchen. And when it comes to dessert, I’m not afraid to outsource to a local bakery – after all, my tiny space is better suited for savory fare than elaborate baking projects.

The key is to plan ahead, work efficiently, and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help. Your guests will be none the wiser, and you’ll get to enjoy the company without sacrificing your sanity.

The Joys of Cooking in Cozy Quarters

Living and cooking in a tiny space may seem daunting, but I’ve found that it can also be incredibly rewarding. It forces you to get creative, streamline your cooking arsenal, and focus on the essentials. And there’s something undeniably satisfying about mastering the art of small-space cooking.

Sure, I may not have the sprawling kitchen of my dreams, but I’ve discovered that magical things can happen in even the most petite of culinary domains. With a little bit of organization, a dash of vertical thinking, and a whole lot of mise en place, I’ve managed to turn my tiny trailer kitchen into a culinary oasis.

So if you find yourself facing the challenge of cooking in a compact space, embrace it! Get creative, have fun, and remember – the size of your kitchen doesn’t determine the quality of your home-cooked meals. Homecooking Rocks is here to help you make the most of every square inch.


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