How can you make great meals in a tiny kitchen? How do you decide what equipment to buy and what to skip when you hardly have room for an oven? And how do you entertain in a small space? Cara Eisenpress, coauthor of the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen and of the cookbook, In The Small Kitchen, has the answers.
Clever Cookstr is joined today by Cara Eisenpress, the cofounder of the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen and coauthor of the cookbook In The Small Kitchen. She’s here to explain how you can make fantastic meals even in less than ideal environments.
Here are Cara's eight tips for cooking in a small kitchen:
#1: Don't worry so much about perfect equipment
You can probably cook with whatever you inherited or bought on sale. As you go, you'll see where there are actual gaps in your equipment, and only then does it really make sense to add to it.
#2: Think about where you're going to store something before you buy it
I had never really been a minimalist in my life before I moved into a small kitchen. But lugging things in and out of cabinets and having things fall on my head if the shelf was too crowded really taught me to pre-edit.
#3: But you don't have to edit everything
Even in a small kitchen, you should make room to hoard the stuff you love. I hold on to all kinds of edible odds and ends because I never know when they'll come in handy. Two days ago, I finally used the tomato juice I'd saved when I used the tomatoes from a can in a tagine. I used the juice to braise some pork. I also have an enormous collection of dish towels so I don't have to do laundry a lot.
#4: Invite people over first
Figure out where they'll all sit later. I'm now living in my first apartment where we've had room for a real table, but we still often end up sitting around the coffee table because it's kind of more fun.
#5: Figuring out timing is everything
If you're learning to cook, don't try to do two things at once. Have no more than two burners going at the same time, or better yet, one thing on the stove and one thing in the oven. As you cook more, you'll start to see what tasks you can fit in while, say, the water's boiling. Then you can graduate to three burners if you need to.
#6: Spread out the prepwork
Sometimes I'll make some rice the night before as I clean up dinner. Then I can make fried rice the next day. There are a lot of little ten-minute tasks you can probably fit into your routine that'll make future dinners and lunches easier to put together, like toasting nuts, making vinaigrette, or roasting veggies.
#7: Not every meal has to be the best meal ever
This is an empowering thing to remember when you're tired or overcook your yolks past gooey!
#8: Just cook!
You'll get better and more confident as you go, and then you'll have more fun.