Urban Earth Mom
Eliminating chaos since 1989


How do I cook in a tiny kitchen?

his week we are getting down to one of the most important questions tiny dreamers have: How do I cook in a tiny kitchen?

On many of the tiny builder shows I often see people insist they NEED a full-sized kitchen to be able to live tiny.  Now while I agree the kitchen is one of the most important and most used rooms in the house, often if it because little thought has been given to how the person cooks that they freeze and demand a full-sized kitchen.
There are a lot of considerations around how big of a kitchen you need so I will cover them over the next few weeks in the blog and also live on my Facebook page. There are big and small appliances, equipment, prep space and food storage space.  

Let’s start with the big appliances: The stove, fridge, freezer, and dishwasher.

Back in my 20s I was a chalet girl for a season.  That means I ran a ski lodge in the French Alps for the winter.  My lodge was constantly at capacity and so I cooked 6 days a week, breakfast and dinner, plus an afternoon post-ski snack for 21 people.  All on a standard domestic stove!  If I can cook for 21 on a regular stove then I know I should be able to cook for 2 or 3 on a smaller one.  

How many burners do you really use? How many pans do you have on the go at any one time.  For me that number, it turns out, is 2.  Most of the time I only use one burner at a time but, for Friday night meals I usually have two going: potatoes and gravy! Even if I have friends over for the meal I use the same burners, I just use bigger pots.

How big an oven do you need? Most often the pot I put in the oven is a small one. The biggest thing I cook is a full-size baking sheet with cookies on it.  But there is no reason I can’t use two half sheets and put them on two shelves.  In fact, this is what I will be doing this spring: switching to a half sheet.  This gives me the opportunity to try out a smaller oven in a cheap and easy way.  I just pretend the oven can only fit half sheets!  It’s low cost and low risk because I haven’t committed to anything other than a couple of new cookie sheets

How packed is your fridge?  Do you throw away a lot of food from the fridge? Americans throw away a huge amount of food daily, some families throw away almost half the food that comes into the house!  One of the habits I committed to cleaning up as I became more intentional and downsized my footprint was wasting food.  Even if I commit to composting wasted food I still felt guilty about throwing it away.  

The first place to tackle in reducing food wastage is the fridge.  This is what I can created a clean the fridge challenge which you can sign up for here:  Fantastic Fridge Challenge

 One the fridge is clean and organized, and you have forgiven yourself for the amount of food you just threw away, it is time to start thinking about what you use and how much you use.  This is a subject for a future blog.

Moving on to the freezer…
This is just like the fridge; full of food we never needed, only colder.  When I first started my path to tiny I had a full-sized fridge/freezer and a big chest freezer.  For three of us. It was always absolutely full to the brim all the time.  Periodically I would throw food out of there too.  So much waste.    Again, I took it slowly to see how much freezer space I really needed.
Step 1 – eat down the food in the freezer.  This took a few months and as a bonus my weekly grocery bill shrank to almost nothing!
Step 2 – once the freezer was empty I cleaned it out, defrosted it and then turned it back on again so it would be available instantly if I realized I really did need it.
Step 3 – after a month of running an empty freezer I switched it off because I hadn’t needed it.
Step 4 – I got rid of the freezer by donating it to a friend.  

That was a couple of years ago now and I haven’t missed it. The freezer on top of the fridge works out just fine in fact it has helped me become more intentional and eat better as there isn’t enough room to stockpile the ice cream anymore!

 Lastly the dishwasher
I do have a full-sized dishwasher but could probably use a half sized one.  I like the draw dishwashers but haven’t investigated them much.  With only two of us and only a couple of pots and pans to wash each day I run the dishwasher once a day and it is about ¾ full.  I work from home most days so I have dishes all through the day.  If I worked in an office I’d be forced to contemplate running it every 2 or 3 days or running it half empty.  I’m not ready to get rid of the dishwasher because I do love being able to have the dishes washed while I do other things.

If you’re ready to get started on tiny-sizing your kitchen  drop me  message or sign up for the fridge clean out challenge here: Fantastic Fridge Challenge

Sarah Moore