My kitchen is smaller than most. It surprises a lot of people when I tell them that I do all my cooking on a surface approximately 1.5m x 500mm (including the hob and sink), have 6 half-size cupboards to house food, plates, pots, pans and gadgets, an under the counter fridge with a box freezer and a tiny oven with one shelf. Yet somehow, I still manage to plate up 3 ‘from scratch’ meals a day. Don’t get me wrong, I have nightly dreams about the day I am able to cook in my beautiful, functional, HUGE kitchen… but for now, I have to make do with what I’ve got.
‘Not having enough space’ is a common excuse as to why people don’t cook, especially why they don’t cook healthy Real Food. It wasn’t easy at first and took a lot of getting used to, but along the way, I have perfected a handful of tricks, culled my kitchen gadgetry and kept only what justified the space it used.
Tiny House living is a big trend. More than that, it’s the only way for a lot of people, myself included. For anyone cooking in a Tiny Kitchen, this one’s for you.
Food processors are King
You may be surprised to see this one at the top of my list. They’re big, clunky and come with loads of parts, but they earn their keep. I use mine every day, sometimes more than once. It speeds up cooking time and when cooking from scratch, means that you can make anything you need to using one piece of equipment rather than 5. Some come with nifty integrated drawers to house all the parts.
Use a mandolin
1.5m x 500mm INCLUDING hob and sink. That leaves me approximately 300mm x 500mm to chop, peel, slice, dice and the rest. Using a mandolin takes away the need for a chopping board as you slice straight into the pan/bowl/dish. All these things could be done in the food processor but when I’m chopping a single leek and courgette, I’d rather wash up a small mandolin than a processor bowl and blade.
Keep dry goods in the packets
Jars look beautiful and are totally Pinterest worthy. Dog-eared packets, not so much. I wish I could decant all of my beans, seeds and nuts into jars but it just wouldn’t work in my kitchen. I squeeze all the air out of packets each time I use what’s inside, meaning they can be packed tightly in the cupboard. Bag clips come in handy.
Don’t keep cutlery and crockery you don’t use
This takes me back to my days as a student where each person owned 2 of everything and nothing more. Only keep what’s essential and gets used at least every other day.
Use what you’ve got
This one not only saves space but makes for great ‘Ifit’s’ creations, too. If a recipe calls for pumpkin seeds but you only have sunflower seeds, use them. Don’t go out and buy a whole packet of pumpkin seeds that will take up space you don’t have. If you need spinach but only have kale, don’t sweat it. When it’s the 28th of the month and you’re out of cash with ‘no food left’, raid your fridge, freezer and cupboards, chuck it all together and see how it turns out (a.k.a. Ifit’s). I’ve made some of my favourite recipes this way.
Be choosy about what you buy
Everything that is in my cupboards comes from a perfected list of foods that I cook with and eat all the time. Anything that I don’t use at least weekly just doesn’t make the cut.
As always - EAT REAL FOOD!
Real Food often doesn’t need packaging and when it does (such as dry goods), it’s minimal. Packaging from processed foods is usually way OTT (2/3/4 pieces) and takes up valuable space, not to mention adds unnecessary and harmful waste to the planet.
Even if your kitchen is comfortably sized, take a look at what you’re holding on to. Having a good old clear out and being able to see what you’re working with can make cooking from scratch so much more enjoyable.