Impossibly Tiny Kitchen? 11 Ways to Make it Work!

impossibly tiny kitchen? 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.

Cooking in an Impossibly Tiny Kitchen


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.

making the most of a tiny home and a tiny kitchen

making a very small kitchen work, cooking scratch food in a small space.

 

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.

organizing cabinets

Impossibly Tiny Kitchen 11 Ways to Make it Work!

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:

impossibly tiny kitchen? Make it work! 

 

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34 comments

  1. Julie says:

    I love these tips, Christina! While I now have a really big kitchen, it’s really the first one I’ve had that’s really worked. I wish I’d read something like this back when space was at a premium – it would have helped so much! Ironically, even though I now have lots of space, I still do a lot of what you share here. Just because I have space doesn’t mean I have to fill up every nook and cranny!

  2. Yavonna says:

    It can be Done if you do it !!!!!!! YOUR AMAZING !!!!!

  3. Teresa says:

    How do you manage cooking nutritious meals and watching the kids at the same time

    • It’s not easy. I do a lot of cooking in the evenings and weekends. I do a lot of make ahead meals and freeze them, like my empanadas, hot pockets, and meatballs that are mentioned. I get the kids involved in cooking with me a lot. I have also gotten a lot faster at it all because I’ve done it for so long. It’s a balancing act for sure, but it can be done. Also, I don’t keep infants and that helps A TON! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  4. Rebecca Gonzales says:

    Christina,

    You inspire me!! I love your blog and your heart for what you do!! Thank you for being such an awesome human being and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. Can’t wait to see what else you have to share. 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing your small kitchen! We have a small square kitchen with very little storage, but we make it work too. It can get a little claustrophobic at times, but we’re used to it.

  6. Karen says:

    We live in a 950 Sq foot apt, my kitchen is smaller than yours with less storage space. Toally agree with leaving counter space open and cooking double or triple batches.

    I still cook organic in or tiny space. I use the ancient dishwasher as the place for dishes, bowls, cups, mugs, and cutting board.

    Hubby keeps all his lunch food containers above the fridge, while my son I share half a cabinet.

    I have a pullout plastic drawers for bags, baggies, towels, and snacks. …

    Somehow we make it work

  7. Christina, I love that you’re cooking from scratch for your daycare kids and using your grandmother’s canisters! Yours is a small kitchen, but if you want “impossibly tiny” I’d like to show you the kitchen in the apartment my husband and I lived in for the first 8 years. The apartment was the top floor of a 1910 house that had been converted into 3 apartments, and we never figured out what that odd little corner had been before it was turned into a kitchen. Fortunately, I could commandeer space outside the kitchen for storage as you did when your daughter moved out. As someone who has “been there,” I must say your tips are wonderful! Truly practical.

  8. Shelah says:

    What great ideas for making the most out of the space that you have.

  9. These are great tips! I hate having things out on the counter…it makes everything look so cluttered.

  10. I love this! I’ve never enjoyed cooking, but you make me want to like it. 🙂 Those canisters on your counter top – my grandmother had a set just like them! I think I have them in a box somewhere. I’m going to find them and use them. 🙂

    • Those canisters are one of my greatest joys as far as material possessions. She had little scoops she used in them and when I get to the bottom of them and see her little scoop scratch marks, it always touches me. I know she would be proud of my cooking. 🙂 I’m cooking from where she cooked from. Very special. I used to not enjoy cooking, but when I realized how important nourishment is, I fell in love with nourishing people’s bodies and souls. Thanks for checking out the post!

  11. I totally agree Christina! I have a super tiny kitchen in the apartment that I live in, in the basement of my parents home. I have baked many wedding cakes and other specialty cakes some to feed over 200 people from my tiny little kitchen! Organization is definitely key! I love all of your great ideas. I might need to try some of them out. It’s definitely time for some Spring cleaning I think. (My grandmother had that same canister set….love it 🙂 . )

  12. Kat says:

    Congratulations on an excellent post!! You have been selected as one of our featured entries in last weeks Simple Saturdays Blog Hop!! And I can see why, I enjoyed reading (and learning) your post…I too have a very teeny tiny kitchen. I might even be smaller than yours. 🙂 Make sure and HOP on over and grab your “Featured” button to proudly display on your site, and thank you so much for participating…we hope to see you this week! ~Kat~

  13. Andrea says:

    Awesome post, Christina! I have a somewhat tiny kitchen, too, in my 1400 sf house. I also turn out many, many meals…as well as keeping ferment projects going and bread rising! I also have found that making things in bulk helps. And cleaning as I go…YES. Essential!

  14. Deanna says:

    I totally sympathize with you!!! My studio apartment has a smaller galley kitchen than yours (about the size of many people’s bathrooms, LOL), and I have no pantry. I have 18″ of counter space on either side of the stove, and the counter above the dishwasher on the other side. I only keep 2 appliances out: my juicer and my indoor grill. The others are kept in a storage cabinet in my dining area (no room in my few kit. cabinets). Like you, I got rid of all extra, unnecessary gadgets and plastics that didn’t nest. I utilize the area above my cabinets with decorative storage boxes.

    I also have a laundry “closet” at the end of my kitchen, so I put up hanging shelves on the back of the door, and that is my “pantry”. I have a magnetic hook on the side of the fridge for a few potholders, hooks in my cabinets for measuring cups and spoons like you, and I have a wire 2 tier basket (for mail or whatever) being used for my kitchen towels and such instead. I hung it on the side of the end cabinet with Command hooks since I rent.

  15. AnnRe says:

    Great tips. Our first house was a 750 sq ft 3 bedroom house…our tiny kitchen was also the dining room. Our current house is only 1200 sq ft (which doesn’t seem small to me after our old house!), but while we are fortunate that the kitchen is much bigger…we have even less counter space than we did before. lol I’ve become a pro at being a minimalist and I try to buy things that have multiple uses. Thanks for the post! 🙂

  16. Cynthia H says:

    I used to keep one of those sawhorse tables folded in my basement stairwell for overflow flat surface. I’ve also been known to grab a TV tray.
    I keep a two-step folding ladder clipped to my pantry wall with two broom clips.

  17. My kitchen is o so tiny too! The room is big, but there is not much counter/pantry space! However, that compares to nothing with my DORM! I’ve had to get pretty creative with all the food I need to have!

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