Loving Your Tiny Kitchen – Space Savers & TricksYum
Anyone who’s rented in the city knows the pain of having a genuinely tiny kitchen. Having rented in central Dublin for years now, I’ve had to make my peace with the fact that almost every city centre apartment comes a small kitchen.
Rather than getting frustrated (like I wasted time doing), you’re far better off maximising the space that you do have!
Here’s some of my tips for making the best of your tiny kitchen space:
Plan & Prep
Moving into a small kitchen can be daunting, especially if you’re used to working in a bigger space. You might have loads of gear, and be thinking where will I put it all? The answer is: In storage. Whatever you don’t need should be boxed up and stored. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
What you really need are the essentials. For example, my basics include 2 good saucepans and a good non-stick frying pan, a cast iron skillet, a baking tray, a roasting tin, and the utensils (spatula, slotted spoon, whisk – the general business). This is the stuff I use everyday without fail. Outside this, stuff should be boxed and out of the kitchen.
If you, like me, use the slightly more unusual bits of kitchen gear more regularly (madeleine pans anyone?), keep them close to hand, but out of the way. Boxed up in the storage room or garage is a perfect place. Clear of dust and dirt, and somewhere easy to reach, but not cluttering up the kitchen area. Should you need them, it’ll be a matter of seconds to go get it.
This one took me ages. I was insistent that I could manage to keep all my gear in my microscopic kitchen. I was wrong.
Out-Of-Kitchen Storage aside, there’s a couple of things I couldn’t do without, which make life easier in the kitchen:
- The Spice Rack: Do you, like me, have a million different types of spices, seeds, and seasonings? If you do, you’ll know what it’s like to open a press and have all these little bottles fall on you at once. A spice rack will keep all these bottles in one place, in easy storage, and at hands reach – right where they should be! Of course this space is limited, so keep all your most used spices here. The other more unusual spices we’ll keep in our “mini pantry”.
- Keep pots and pans up high and out of the way. This means hooks (if you can install some), or storing them on top of the kitchen cabinets or fridge. I keep my large pans (paella pans, big frying pans, etc.) on top of cabinets. Mostly because they won’t fit inside the cabinets themselves. Still, they’re up and out of the way – where they should be!
- Surface Space: This was a breakthrough for me. I have so many chopping boards that take up so much space. Mistake! The revolution occurred when I discovered this beauty of a chopping board. It practically replaces counter surface and saves on having to have extra chopping boards around. For the sake of hygiene, keep one or two extra smaller chopping boards around for meat and fish, but this board will be great for slicing bread, chopping and peeling veggies, and all those other bits and bobs!
Keep It Clean
This is where I struggle. I’m a messy cook. If you have a small kitchen, this is going to cause a problem or two. After entertaining (or maybe just making dinner in general), the place can look a bit chaotic. The best thing you can do here is clean as you go. If you’re cooking pasta and you have a pan with the last of the sauce, clean that bad boy straight away. Cleaning a saucepan fresh off the hob? Easy! Cleaning a saucepan that’s full of dried, crusty tomato sauce? Traumatic.
In any case, the more crap you have on the counter, the harder cooking will be. The worse you kitchen is looking, the harder it’ll be to get up and start cleaning! Try keep on top of it as you go, and your kitchen life will be so much easier.
I dream of the day when I’ll have my own designated pantry. Filled to the brim with pasta, rice, dried goods, cans, bottles, and spices.
Until that day arrives, I’m making do with what I refer to as the “Spice Cupboard”. Since college, I’ve always had one very pungent cabinet, filled with every spice imaginable. Outside of your array of spices in regular use, there’s obviously going to be more that don’t fit in the spice rack. This is where our mini pantry comes in. Designate one small cupboard as a space for storing everything spice, dried, canned, or jarred. Not only does this mean that you can find everything very easily, but you’ve also got a good idea of what’s in stock – which helps you overspending when you’re doing your weekly shop!
Moving on from designating spaces, when you’re working in a confined space, it’s important that you don’t overdo it on your weekly shop. If you buy too much, there’s simply no place to store it, and over-filling cupboards is a dangerous game. We’ve all been hurt by that one!
Keep stock of what you have, and know what you need to buy – especially when it comes to pantry items, which may sit in the cupboard for months. This means you’ll avoid buying too much, and spending too much!
Don’t be put off by a smaller kitchen space, especially if you’re just cooking for one or two. In an ideal world, we’d all have a huge, endless kitchen, but in reality, it ain’t gonna happen. Build a good system around your tiny kitchen and in no time you’ll have your storage, cleaning and chopping problems smoothed out and utterly functional again!