Please welcome Sara Kay from Why I Sing, who you may know as our gluten-free Sourdough eCourse teacher. On the blog today, she's wearing a different hat. She's sharing really good advice for storing, serving and enjoying real food in a small kitchen. I hope she inspires you to do more with your space! –Wardee
An unexpected series of events this Spring landed me and my husband, three daughters, and dog and cat in a third floor, 1000 square foot apartment for the summer. Thankfully, for us this is just a temporary situation. But I’ve had to figure out a way to feed our family well from a very tiny kitchen. I find it funny that I rarely see anyone carry groceries into our apartment complex. Most people here must eat out for every meal!
A small kitchen is a long-term reality for many people, but it needn’t keep you from providing healthy, delicious meals for your family. Here are some tips I have discovered, to help make cooking real food possible in a small space.
1. Empty the dishwasher as soon as it finishes, and take care of dirty dishes as soon as possible. If the sink is full of dishes and the counter space is occupied, you'll lack space, and therefore motivation, to cook.
2. Wipe off counters as you go. A clean kitchen is an inviting kitchen, even when it’s a small one.
3. Avoid letting paperwork pile up on the bar/counter space. Get a filing cabinet and use a few minutes each week to file away papers. Get a plastic vertical file folder holder or 3-ring binder for the counter top, to keep bills and important papers accessible, but organized. Go through the mail right when you bring it in, toss the trash, and file the rest.
4. Only keep appliances you use daily on the countertop. Others need their own dedicated space in the pantry or cabinet. If you don’t have space to store them, you need to simplify.
5. Cover bowls that are in use with plates so they can be stacked — in the fridge or on the counter.
6. Use a funnel to pour cooled broth, whey, etc., into narrow jars that take less space in the fridge than a bowl. I use jars that held juice.
7. If you have a pantry, keep a shelf space clear for longer ferments like water kefir and kombucha.
8. Don’t allow anything but kitchen stuff in the kitchen. Shoes, purses, mail, toys, all need to have a different place to live. Sometimes it’s easy to come home and unload in the kitchen, but that slows you down when you have to work in there often.
9. Use the middle of the stove, between the burners, for overnight soaking. It’s warm and safe. I sometimes stack bowls covered with plates three high!
10. Clean out, throw away, sell, and/or donate any dishes or appliances you no longer use. You can always replace these, but if they aren’t useful to you this month, they are keeping you from working efficiently.
11. Go easy on yourself. If you could see what my kitchen looks like as I type this, you would see that I don’t always take my own advice! The kitchen is a daily project, a constant effort, and everyone gets tired sometimes. Small spaces are especially unforgiving in this regard. Do the best you can, and take baby steps toward where you want to be. There’s always tomorrow!
Do you cook real food in a small space? What tips would you add? What helps you put good food on the table with a smile? Please share in the comments. And if you have questions for Sara, please ask!
And, hey — don't forget! Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of the real food progressive dinner, Whole Foods for the Holidays. I'll see you right back here for the first course: soups. Mmm… I've got a super good one to share. I hope you'll link up your own soup posts, too! –Wardee
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