Cooking is an activity that brings people together.
Whether it's appetizers and drinks for a football game or a lavish meal with all the trimmings, inspiration and ideas swirl in our minds as we contemplate all the delicious options we have for creating wonderful food and warm memories for friends and family.
Doing More With Little Cooking Space
Few of us can boast an industrial-sized kitchen that fulfills all of our culinary dreams, so what do we do if we are living in a studio apartment where our kitchen doubles as a storage closet?
Not to worry–it’s still possible to create masterpiece meals with a few simple hacks for cooking in a small kitchen space.
Read on for inspiration and ideas on how to make your small space the ideal kitchen for you:
1. Clean as You Go
There are messy cooks who leave everything lying around until the last dish has been served, and there are those who efficiently clean and tidy up as they go, resulting in less stress when it comes time to do the dishes.
Aim for the latter if you are working with a tiny kitchen space; it’s a pretty sure bet that you don’t have the counter space for all of those leftover shrimp tails.
Organize as you go, and you’ll find that the little space you do have is freed up for food prep rather than garbage storage.
2. Consider a Burner Cover or Over-the-sink Cutting Board
If you don’t have an abundance of counter space in your cozy little kitchen, consider purchasing a burner cover or over-the-sink cutting board to provide an additional flat surface to complete food prep.
Chop up that mise en place, place utensils on your board for easy access, or even place a garbage bowl on top to house table scraps, package wrappers, etc.
You’ll wonder what you did with your cramped countertops before the addition of this essential kitchen tool.
3. Peel Veggies Into a Bowl For Quick Clean up
Peeling potatoes, carrots, and cucumbers can get messy pretty quickly, especially if you are a novice peeler.
Grab that garbage bowl and peel produce directly into it for quick and easy clean-up.
If you don’t have a bowl on hand, consider laying paper towels on a flat surface and peel directly onto the towels, rolling up all the waste when finished.
4. Speaking of Garbage Bowl….
Rachel Ray coined the phrase as she quick-chopped and prepped her way to food fame; her garbage bowl technique has saved many a cook some sanity in the kitchen when trying to prepare a meal.
Grab one of your largest bowls and use it to throw literally everything away that you don’t use in your actual meal.
Cans, boxes, packages, and food waste can all go in this bowl for quick and efficient organizing as you go.
Dump the bowl once when you’re done, give it a quick wash, and you just saved some time and trips to the waste receptacle, which may be getting in your way in such a small space.
5. Use a Tiered Cooling Rack to Hold Ingredients or Finished Plates
That cooling rack isn’t just for cookies anymore! Think outside the rack when it comes to what you might use it for.
As you prepare plates for family or guests, place them on racks while you put the finishing touches on the table.
Use racks to place ingredients in a safe place while you prep your dishes.
When not actively being used for cooking, these same racks can be used for holding spices and pantry ingredients that you like to have within reach as you cook.
6. Rinse and Reuse Utensils
Don’t clutter up your countertops and sink with a bunch of utensils that you really don’t need to use!
All of that extra equipment will make cleaning up even harder when you’re finished with your delicious meal.
Consider rinsing and reusing utensils such as cutting boards, measuring cups, and tasting spoons to make cleanup a snap.
Keep a sink full of clean dishwater on hand to wash as you go, and you’ll improve cooking and washing efficiency.
7. Install a Tall Faucet For More Efficient Cleaning
If your kitchen budget allows, consider adding a tall faucet to help make your cleaning efforts easier.
It’s no longer a struggle to get that stockpot in your tiny little sink, and if you happen to have a faucet with a sprayer, all the better!
Now if your little room would just accommodate an automatic dishwasher.
8. Buy Some Multi-Tasking Gadgets
Yes, we know that an Instant Pot takes up some counter space, but it can do so much more than slow cook your Sunday roast.
Use it to pressure cook, air fry, bake, saute, and so much more with multi-tasking gadgets such as these in your kitchen.
They are well worth the extra counter space if you can apply several different cooking methods with one simple gadget.
Another item to consider adding to your cooking arsenal is a good immersion blender.
Not only are they efficient and easier to use, but they can also replace several clunkier, space-hogging appliances that you no longer need.
9. Create Some Innovative “Drawers”
If you have some extra hollows in your kitchen in between cabinets and appliances, consider designating this space to store some pots and pans.
Place them on a large, flat cooking sheet and stack neatly, sliding under cabinet space for easy access when you need them.
If you haven’t used them in a while, take them down and give them a quick rinse before attempting to prepare your mushroom risotto, or you’ll find that it takes on an earthy quality.
10. Consider a Fold-Down Table
Fold-down tables are so cool!
They come from out of nowhere, providing extra counter space or a nice place to chill with your favorite beverage while you watch that lemon meringue pie you made to satisfy that mad craving for something sweet and tart.
Host an impromptu tea for a friend who stops by unexpectedly, or use it as extra counter space if you find yourself up to your elbows in new recipe directions.
Regardless of how you use it, it’s bound to become one of your favorite hacks when working in your quaint kitchen.
11. Use a Magnetic Knife Strip to Hold Paper Recipes
Get your paper recipe up and out of reach of spills by affixing it securely to a magnetic knife strip.
Grab a magnet off the kitchen to hold it securely in place, and you now have your directions at eye level when whipping, chopping, basting, and baking.
12. Stow Your Baking Pans Above Cabinets to Free up Space
Baking enthusiasts, breathe a sigh of relief. Some of that overhead space above your cabinets can be used to store your most treasured baking pans.
No longer will you have to rummage for a pan at the last minute when whipping up a batch of macaroons; you have everything at arm’s length and ready to go the next time you’re inspired to craft culinary confections that will make your keto friends salivate with envy.
Make them rethink their health choices with your clever use of sugar, butter, and flour. Oh, so delicious!
13. Use Your Oven For Storage
If you are working in a really tiny space, consider using your oven for storage when you are not actively using it.
Stacking pots and pans cleverly inside one another will ensure that you get the most bang for your buck out of this little appliance.
Just make sure you don’t start to preheat for your next meal without clearing out your pots and pans!
14. Install Hooks and Wall Mounts if Possible
Installing wall mounts and hooks is a great space saver; use them to hang utensils, light pots and pans, dishes, and even glassware to make your kitchen look neat and tidy.
Install in places where you won’t bump into them, yet make sure they are within arm’s reach if you need to grab and stir, plate, or pour.
15. Create Your Very Own Pantry!
While it’s not likely that you have a pantry in your tiny little kitchen space, consider installing your very own pantry that fits your needs, style, and budget.
Your new pantry could be something as simple as a skirt across a kitchen sink bottom, a series of floating shelves, or even an inexpensive cabinet off of Craig’s List.
Quite often, you can set up a cozy little nook for packaged foods and storage bins for under $30, and it will add style and ambiance to your kitchen.
16. Organize Kitchen Gadgets in the Order in Which You Use Them
If you are a spice guru, make sure you store all spices in a place where you can easily access them.
If you don’t fancy yourself a baker, it is not necessary to keep that springform cheesecake pan within reach; switch out gadgets that you rarely use with things that you use on the daily, and you’ll be far less frustrated when trying to prepare a meal or snack for yourself.
17. Mount a Drying Rack to The Wall
Dish drying can take up not only space, but time. You may not want to take time to dry and store items right after heavy meal prep.
In such cases, a drying rack is ideal for saving some space and giving you a breather.
Affix a drying rack to the wall and keep delicate dishes secure while they dry, giving you space for larger items such as pots and pans in the sink.
Circle back around and reorganize dried dishes when you have a minute, and you’re good to go for your next culinary session.
18. Use a Basket For Hanging Produce
It’s a pretty sure bet that you don’t have a full-sized refrigerator in your small kitchen, and this can make food storage difficult.
Add a hanging basket above your kitchen sink for produce, and keep a handle on freshness while you free up space in your icebox for things that need to stay cool.
19. Add a Lazy Susan For Condiments
Whether you store your condiments on the counter or the fridge, the lazy Susan is a great tool for keeping everything contained while allowing you easy access to your favorite sauces, sips, and spritzes.
Now must make sure you don’t confuse the tabasco sauce for ketchup, or it’ll be an uncomfortable day.
20. Hang Cleaning Supplies on a Tension Rod
Kitchens need cleaning, to be sure! Keep cleaning bottles at a minimum by installing an under-the-counter tension rod for those things you need to keep within reach.
A word of caution, however–don’t intermix food items and chemicals, or you could find yourself with a trip to the emergency room in the middle of an impromptu dinner party.
No matter what your square footage is, you can make kitchen magic happen with the clever use and implementation of these hacks.
Demonstrate your passion for cooking and a penchant for organization, and see just how much fun you can have as you treat yourself and delight family and friends with your delicious dishes.