Endless Contests: Small Kitchen Stories

Smallest. Kitchen. Ever.

Surely I’m not the only one here who complains about the size of their kitchen. Moving a few months ago from Delaware to New Jersey, we went from a duplex that had a remarkably large kitchen to a rowhouse with a ridiculous tiny kitchen, almost an afterthought in the 100-year-old home.  I have lived in apartments and homes that have had small kitchens before, but our new kitchen takes the cake in terms of function and feng shui. When we moved in, there were only cabinets and counter space on one side of the kitchen, and those were all quickly filled up with only a tiny fraction our kitchen-ware. The microwave and dish drainer took up the minimal counter space. We added metal shelving and a kitchen island on the other side of the kitchen, and that island now serves as our one and only prep surface.


Generally speaking, the size of the kitchen is not a problem if we I’m whipping up something quick. However, when I am feeling ambitious and want to make something like enchiladas, or even Indian food, which require a lot of ingredients, I have developed a few methods to keep myself from losing my mind:

First, I must stay organized. Gone are the days when I could start cooking a meal before finishing the prep work for it. Now, I must chop, slice, and measure everything out, and place it in appropriately-sized bowls before I can heat up that stove.

Second, we often use the overflow space that is our dining room table. Typically, when we are making pizza, my husband will work out the dough while I chop veggies and grate cheese, which we can’t both do in the kitchen. So we’ll use the kitchen table as a secondary prep space. I do this when baking things like cookies and pies as well.

The most unfortunate thing about all this is that it has significantly affected my interest in cooking big meals and baking things. The thought of crafting something elaborate in the kitchen now brings along the added logistical stress of figuring out where my Kitchen Aid mixer or my food processor is going to go. I have a wistful nostalgia for those carefree days in the First State when I could  dance in my kitchen. Yes, actually dance. Now I can barely turn sideways without running into something.

So, small-kitchen users, I know you’re out there. How do you deal? What solutions do you have for making delicious meals in small spaces, and for maintaining your sanity and love of cooking?

PS – Think you have the smallest, most ridiculous kitchen of them all? Send a pic to contests@endlesssimmer.com. We’ve got a special prize waiting for the eater with the most ridiculously tiny eating space.

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  • belmontmedina September 23, 2009  

    Sad. My kitchen now is pretty big, but in the apartment I had before, the kitchen was a 5×7 hallway. I had more counterspace in my cubicle.

  • gansie September 23, 2009  

    where does all your tupperware go?

  • Lyndsey September 23, 2009  

    The most heavily-used tupperware goes on one of the metal shelves in the kitchen. The less popular items are in a closet in the dining room that we converted to a pantry.

  • Britannia September 23, 2009  

    Can you come up to DC and give my bf a helping hand in organizing his kitchen, its ridiculously tiny with only (approx) 1.5′ x 2′ area of empty counter space for prep work, I’m sure you can imagine the size of his chopping board!!

    Did I forget to mention that it is painted a gross witch colored green. Lovely.

  • La Morgan September 23, 2009  

    We have a similar galley-style kitchen, but the entrance is slightly offset, so we bought 6′ high shelves to store pots & foodstuffs there. Makes the entrance rather cramped & crooked, but it’s better than in the kitchen. Also I am a big fan of ceiling-mounted pot & pan hangers – if you have strong enough walls, you definitely have space to have a horizontal pot hanger sticking out from your shelves. Just make sure it’s not at forehead level.

    You can get dish racks that attach to the wall and fold up over the sink instead of sitting on the counter. Finally, I have really been working on one-pot meals (which more often than not just means using the same pot twice when cooking a meal.) The enameled dutch oven & cast iron pan are both critical to this strategy.

    If all else fails, try a trap door? 😉 Or shelves under your dining room table.

  • Raizy September 23, 2009  

    My kitchen is just as small as yours, but because I keep kosher, I have to divide up the counter space (one side for meat dishes, one side for dairy.) This leaves me with exactly 14″ of counter space to cook meat and poultry meals. It’s a miracle that my family eats at all.

  • Alex September 24, 2009  

    But what am I supposed to do with a teeny stove? (Good stuff Lyndsey!)

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