This tip comes after working between many kitchens with less than ideal space. I know there are a lot of people that cook out of small kitchens and not having space can be extremely frustrating. Over the past few years, I have cooked in my NYC apartment kitchen with less than 10 feet of counter space, and in a couple other kitchens with about 30 feet of counter space. Anytime I was cooking for more than four or five people, I would seem to run out room. This tip is to help people get organized in tight spaces.
The first thing that I would recommend is to put bins or small removable shelves in the cabinets or pantry. I know a lot of the stuff I have isn’t tall enough to reach the next shelf, so having one of the racks or shelves that can create multiple tiers in the cabinet can add extra storage. I liked using bins for things like sweeteners, specialty flours, or anything that comes in a small bag. They can easily be put into a bin or basket by category and stacked or neatly set next to each other to create a less cluttered pantry.
I also recommend a big cutting board. When my counters were filled, a board that set over the sink was nice. It provided a lot of extra prep space while not using more counter space. This was something I did almost every day when I was living in New York. There were times when I even used the stove as a prep space because the sink wasn’t enough.
One of the most helpful things I learned from working in small kitchens is to prep everything before I began cooking (mise en place–setting everything in it’s place). It is still relevant today, but it is especially necessary in a small kitchen. If I put everything in little bowls ready to go, cooking was so much easier. When I set everything up and have all of my ingredients in order, I don’t have scraps all over the place; I am not knocking things off of the counters (very guilty of this); and I am not wondering if I accidentally hid something from myself just to get it out of the way so I could cook or prep something else. Using that tool was incredibly valuable to me. There were too many times when I wouldn’t feel like organizing my ingredients and something would fall on the floor while I went to make sauce or I would knock a pan off of the stove trying to turn around and cut vegetables. It’s simple, if I would have had everything prepped and ready to go, things like that probably wouldn’t have happened!
I hope this tip has some value to those who are struggling with smaller kitchens. It is something that took me years to adjust to, but simple solutions make a world of difference when it comes to those things.