Those who live in small apartments with similarly proportioned kitchens should never be dissuaded from cooking at home. There's nothing quite like a wonderful home-cooked meal; Especially here in Mt. Pleasant where residents have access to high-quality local meat and produce via the weekly farmers' market.
Even most commercial kitchens are extremely small compared to the number of people they serve. With a little bit of planning and a few simple tricks, you can cook for yourself and your guests like a master chef.
The most challenging part of small kitchen cooking is storage. Cabinet, counter, and drawer space are prime real estate in a tiny kitchen, so it’s essential to maximize every square inch you’ve got.
For example, a small gap between your fridge and an overhead cabinet can be used to store a baking sheet or cutting board. There are also many renter-friendly ways to take advantage of unused wall space for things like magnetic knife strips, hooks for hanging pots and other utensils, or shallow shelving for spices and other small items.
Keeping your cabinets organized is critical to creating the most space and preventing having to dig around (and create more of a mess) when you need something. Make sure to stack storage containers by size, and make use of accessories like baskets, dividers, and more.
Consider keeping canned goods and other non-perishables in an area outside the kitchen to save more space.
Stick to the Essentials
The truth is most recipes can be made with just an oven, stove, and microwave. Try and eliminate appliances you rarely use. Sorry, there’s just not enough room for that pasta maker!
Appliances you sometimes use, like a blender, toaster, Crock Pot, or food processor should be stored somewhere outside the kitchen to make room for the essentials.
Only have as many place settings as you would usually have people eating. When you entertain, use paper plates and plasticware instead. This will save you a significant amount of cabinet space, which can make all the difference in a small kitchen.
When it comes to pots and pans, think about how many you really need to get the job done. Most people can get by with just one saucepan, skillet, soup pot, and baking sheet. Don’t go out and buy a 12 piece set when you only need five or six.
The same goes for knives and other utensils. It’s likely you only use one knife for the vast majority of your cutting. One good chef’s knife and a paring knife should do the trick. Plus, you eliminate the need for a block and save even more precious counter space.
For other utensils, try having just one ladle, spatula, wooden spoon, and whisk. Barring a few others specific to the dishes you commonly prepare, these should be enough to get by. Again, think of ways to hang them so that they are as unobtrusive as possible.
Prep for Prep
Prep is a sore spot for small-kitchen chef’s, where their lack of counter space becomes very apparent. By conducting as much of your prep in advance, you can give yourself maximum space when it’s finally time to get cooking.
See if you can prepare any of your sauces ahead of time. This also gives you a chance to wash and reuse the pan and spoon if you’ve taken the advice above. Vegetables can be pre-peeled and sliced and stored in the fridge.
Also, you can create more counter space by buying a cutting board that can lay over your sink or the burners on your stove when you aren’t using them.
If you’ve got space elsewhere in your apartment, consider buying a rolling kitchen cart you can use for the more prep-heavy recipes.
Master the “Clean as You Go”
Dishes waste valuable counter space. To master small-kitchen cooking, learning how to efficiently rinse, wash, and reuse dishes while cooking is essential, especially if you’ve elected to reduce the number of pots and pans you own to a minimum.
Most recipes include a little bit of “down time” where you could be washing and drying a dish to be used again for the next step of the recipe. Making maximum use of this time helps you get the most out of your minimal inventory and helps relieve some of the overall dishwashing burden.
You can also apply "clean as you go" to your prep. If you’re breaking eggs or peeling potatoes, you can place a paper towel on the counter first for the eggshells or skins. Then, cleaning up and restoring your counter space is just a matter of grabbing the sheet and throwing it away.
Organization & Efficiency is the Key to Small Kitchen Cooking
A small kitchen shouldn’t prevent you from preparing delicious meals for yourself, family, and guests. Many of the world’s most renowned chefs work in spaces that are a lot smaller than you’d imagine.
The secret to successful small kitchen cooking is all about efficiency and planning ahead. A well-designed apartment kitchen will actually be easier to use because you’ve eliminated a lot of the clutter and only have what you need on hand.
By having a well-organized kitchen with only the most critical components available, you might find it more liberating than limiting.
Enjoy Plentiful Kitchen Space at the Vintage Apartments
Here at the Vintage, our kitchens are outfitted with spacious cabinetry. Plus, the high end finishes make cooking in your apartment a luxurious experience. If you want to enjoy living right in the heart of the city, but just can’t sacrifice having an accommodating kitchen, schedule a tour today!