Impossibly Tiny Kitchen? 11 Ways to Make it Work!
Do you feel like your kitchen is too tiny to cook in? Space is at a premium in my small 1,100 square foot home and I have a very tiny kitchen. I run a full time daycare and preschool and we still live in here. I make several scratch meals a day in my kitchen. I have cranked out hundreds of cupcakes, raised $800 selling homemade bread, and even had a dinner making business for over a year in here.
You might think I have a lavish fancy kitchen to enjoy, but I have the tiniest, most low tech kitchen you could imagine. It’s an itty bitty micro galley tiny kitchen. My kitchen floor is 4 feet wide. I know there are smaller kitchens in the world, but for feeding 10 people a day? It doesn’t even seem possible that I could cook so much with so little room. While I’ll admit that if Extreme Makeover Home Edition came over, I would totally take them to my kitchen first, there are a lot of ways you can work around lack of space in a work area.
Why make everything yourself when Betty Crocker will do it for you? Especially if you have a tiny kitchen? Because it tastes much better than processed food and we avoid so many chemicals, additives, and unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt. My goal is to serve food as fresh and healthy as possible for the best nutrition and health of all of us.
I love cooking for my kids and family. It makes me feel like I’m giving them a gift of love and health. My mother and grandmother always nurtured with food and I imagine them when I work in the kitchen. I know good health means a good life, and its uber important to me. I would love to have a more user friendly kitchen, but I don’t, so I make the best of what I have. I have learned a few things along the way.
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1. Keep as little on the counters as possible.
I have four small squares of cabinet space, so my first order of business is to keep those squares as empty as I can. I can’t have a lot of appliances or sit abouts in the kitchen. I have a kitchen aid mixer I use constantly. It’s heavy and it’s not practical to store it away. It probably wouldn’t fit in any of my tiny cabinets, so it has a spot on the counter along with a cutting board and my compost bucket for kitchen scraps.
I also keep my wheat grinder out for the same reason, it’s too cumbersome to move around. Next to it I have canisters with sugar and both kinds of wheat berries I grind. My canisters are one of my most precious belongings as they were my grandmothers and I cooked with her from them. All four of them won’t fit on the square, so one rests in the cabinet, but every time I use them, I think of her and smile. Sometimes when I get down to the bottom of the canister, I see her scratch marks from the scoops she always used and I get a little tear or 50 thinking about her thinking about me cooking by her example. I sure miss her…
One of my squares is totally empty for rolling out dough or whatever and it’s also the square I set all the dishes on for meal prep and where I fill all the cups for the kids. The fourth square has a canister of utensils that won’t fit in my tiny drawers and a set of bowls that hold counter foods like onions, bananas, avocados, or tomatoes. The bowls are on a stand so it takes up less room than just setting the foods on the counter.
I have some spice jars that go with my grandma’s canisters behind this square. I just screwed the little shelf that holds them into the wall to save a bit of space. Anything else has to be lugged in and out including my juicer, toaster, blender, and whatever else I want to use. Cabinet space is quite limited as well so when my daughter moved out I turned her room into a pantry to store serving dishes, bulk foods, and appliances such as crock pots. You gotta do what you gotta do when you have a tiny kitchen.
2. Add counter space.
If you have room, you could add an island or folding table in the kitchen to make extra work space. If I put anything in my kitchen, I wouldn’t be able to walk in there. There is barely room for my trash can.
3. Buy in bulk.
I love to buy in bulk because it saves so much time and money. I have a lot of my staple goods in 5 gallon buckets in my pantry room. I have the top of my refrigerator and drawers under my washer and dryer filled with storage items as well. Whatever you can think of to stay organized will help you be more successful in the kitchen.
4. Cook in multiples.
I cook everything in multiples to save precious time. Once you get everything out to make muffins, you’re going to make a mess, so why not make a lot and only have to clean it up once. Muffins freeze great. If you’re going to double the batch, why not quadruple it? I’m cooking for a lot of people, so you may not want to make 9 batches of pancakes like I do, but make it worth the cleanup. Get all the mess out, crank them out for an hour or two, and freeze them in meal size portions for the days you need them.
5. Stay organized.
Staying organized is important when managing a small amount of work space and a big project. Plan out what order you will prep and cook in so you can manage the use of your space.
6. Keep only necessities in your tiny kitchen.
With space at such a premium, let go of some of your single use gadgets. For instance, I have a micro plane and grate my garlic with it and use it for other grating instead of keeping it and a garlic press. The micro plane can do more things, so I opt for it.
7. Clean as you go.
Dirty dishes piled up take up a lot of room. Wash up the big stuff as you get done with it. The after meal cleanup is much easier and you won’t fill all your work space with dishes.
8. Use your sink.
A cutting board over the sink can save space for more prep somewhere else. Make sure you have one that will adjust or one that is wide enough to straddle the sides of the sink.
9. Make the most of your cabinet space.
Nesting bowls and containers are a must. Less stuff stored in a smaller footprint is the only way to fit everything you need in your kitchen. The cups I choose for my daycare kids, the mixing bowls and cups I have, and my storage containers all have to fit in a stack or they can’t stay. There is just no room for them.
10. Hang up anything you can.
I have mixing cups hanging on the inside of my cabinet doors to save precious drawer space. Plus it makes them easier to access. I also have my mom’s biscuit cutter and measuring spoons hanging on the wall above my canisters as decorations. We cooked together with them when I was a kid. They make me feel good and to me they are beautiful! My paper towels and jar opener hang off the bottom of the cabinet as well.
Anything I can hang saves me valuable counter or storage space. I have trivets on the wall for décor as well as my garlic braids and dried peppers for cooking. To me it’s art. We grew the garlic and peppers with our own hands. I love looking at it. Before buying anything I consider what footprint it will take up. That is a big deciding factor on which one I chose. If I can get a wheat grinder that is tall and skinny, I will choose it over a wide one because it takes up less space in the tiny kitchen.
11. Be creative about space to use for a big project.
When I make a big batch of baked items to freeze, I use the dining room table as a cooling area to keep the buildup out of the kitchen. This is less effective when the kids are here and eat the side off of loaves of bread or bite off of the cookies, but it can work if you have 73 eyes or a security system installed on your dining table or something.
Don’t think you can’t cook for your family if you don’t have all the latest stuff or a huge space to do it in. I am cooking for 6-8 kids a day plus my husband and I on this tiny piece of real estate. A tiny kitchen doesn’t stop me. My mom had a cake decorating business in a kitchen even smaller than mine once. She baked dozens of cakes in it. It’s all in your perspective.
You can make good food in a tiny kitchen
To me the importance of a wholesome meal far outweighs working around the challenges of a one butt tiny kitchen. Take some time to think about ways you can use your kitchen more effectively and you can make your life a whole lot easier. Creating in the kitchen is a beautiful art that can be enjoyed for more than just its beauty and flavors. It gives life and health. It is love.
Don’t forget to pin this tiny kitchen for later: