Last fall, we moved to an 1100-sq-ft apartment with a fairly small kitchen. It’s maybe half the size of what we had before, plus we’ve added another family member. Cooking for 6 (and in a few months, once the baby eats food, 7) in a small space is a challenge.
But, it’s doable. It truly is, and I’m going to show you how I make it work in my kitchen.
Here’s what I have in my kitchen, and where!
This is the counter right next to my sink. Here, I have my Kitchen Aid mixer (a 6 qt mixer that I use for making sourdough bread mostly, and sometimes for whipping cream, frosting, etc. I tend to use my immersion blender for smaller amounts).
Next to that is my juicer. (I have this one.) Sometimes I use it more than others. I like to juice combinations of kale with apples, pineapples, or oranges and add lemon and ginger. I do blends of fruits, veggies, and herbs in my juicer.
If I am attempting to ferment veggies, they would usually sit over here.
Next to that, right up against the sink is my Berkey water filter. This makes it easy to fill!
This is the counter on the other side of the sink. And yes, it often looks like this. There are empty milk jars that need to be returned to the farm, fresh fruit, and kombucha bottles. This is where kombucha goes for its second ferment.
And of course, my dehydrator is here. I use that for drying herbs, making jerky, dehydrating liver for liver pills, and lots more. It can be used for incubating yogurt, rising bread, drying sprouted grains, making dried fruit pieces or fruit leather, and lots more. It’s pretty important for preserving shelf-stable items.
Right next to the counter is the side of my sink that I use as a drainer — it has a metal rack in it for drying hand-washed dishes. I also put meat to thaw in here in the morning in preparation for cooking dinner each day.
Below this counter are cupboards where I keep all the pots and pans. On one side I have all of the pots/frying pans nested (there are 3 frying pans and 3 ‘normal’ pots, plus 2 large soup/stock pots). On the other side, I have all my baking dishes nested — 4 9×13 pans, 1 10×15 pan, a round roast, a 7×11, and 4 loaf pans. Yes, I really need four of each of the loaf and 9×13 pans. I often use 2 – 3 at once and if I make a second dish, need the remaining one(s). This, of course, is only because I have a large family. My mom never used more than one because we had a family of 4.
Sometimes, if I am attempting to ferment water kefir, it sits here.
And on the other side of the kitchen….
This counter is between my fridge and my stove. My blender is here (the Vitamix I use *daily*), and my crockpot is here (which I use constantly to produce chicken stock).
The crockpot. I roast a chicken typically every Monday, sometimes a different evening. The bones then go into the crockpot, and we add water and turn it on low. We take stock out as needed for soups, gravies, sauces, etc. and use it all week. Then we toss out the bones and start over. Sometimes, I buy bags of bones from a local butcher and I take out the stock about every 12 hours for the first couple of days, let it cool, and freeze it. This is really helpful in busy seasons, when sometimes we forget to make stock for a week or so.
That mason jar there, in the middle? That’s my sourdough starter. It is usually on my counter so that I can bake with it every few days. I make several loaves of bread. It’s easy — I just use this recipe.
And on the side of the fridge, at the edge of the picture, those are my oven mitts. I have them hanging on magnets here, which is a great space-saver.
This counter is where most prep work happens, unless I use the kitchen table.
This is the top of my fridge, right next to that counter. Here, I have my kombucha jar. This keeps the sourdough and kombucha apart, plus any other ferments I might be attempting. I’ve gotten creative in the small space. 🙂
On my fridge, with the round yellow magnet, you can see my meal plan. That helps me stay organized in this space.
I also keep glass pitchers and coconut oil up here. Above the cabinets, there are my herbs and spices. I have several bags of my favorite ones! Down further, on top of the cabinets, we have some large glass bowls, bulk food items (oats, wheat berries) and extra mason jars.
Streamlining Cooking in a Small Space
That’s how my kitchen is organized. I have several appliances on the counter — the ones I use most. You’ll notice that I don’t have items like a toaster or other ‘typical’ appliances out. I don’t use those as often. I do have some of these more typical items which are stored either in my pots and pans cabinet or in the laundry room. And I also have a deep freezer that is sitting in my living room because, well, there’s no space for it in the kitchen.
I try to keep cooking simple. Big pots of soup are common and easy to make — chop veggies on the counter and simmer on the stove. I also make casseroles with rice or potatoes layered with meat, cheese, and veggies in my big baking pans.
Our go-to meals in the spring and summer are smoothies and salads. These are super quick and easy to make. Real food does not have to be complicated!
As I am preparing thing, I immediately add dirty dishes to the sink or dishwasher, and I wash as I go. I also do cleaning in the morning and before bed. I do not cook in a dirty kitchen simply becasue I don’t like to, and it’s pretty difficult to make it work anyway.
This fall, we’ll be preserving large amounts of food in this kitchen, and storing it. I’ll share how we do that when the time comes!