The first house I lived in after getting married measured in at a whopping 300 square feet, and our second home was a veritable mansion at 700 square feet. As you can probably imagine, there was a lot of side-stepping around furniture, pushing couches against the wall so that we could unfold the table leaf, and bumping shins and thighs into protruding furniture. But hey, it was home.
As a person who loves cooking, one of the most challenging parts of having such a tiny residence was that the kitchen was crowded and cluttered most of the time. We had a half-sized fridge, a half-sized oven, a half-sized microwave, one drawer, and only two square feet of countertop space for goodness sake! How do you cook well for anybody when you’re that cramped?
If you’re in a similar situation, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect of hosting a family feast for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but don’t fret. We have put together a list of some great ideas that will let you cook up a storm without the chaos that can accompany a tiny kitchen.
1. Mise En Plas
The French term “mise en plas” is roughly translated to mean that there’s a place for everything and everything in its place. Before you even think about starting to cook your Thanksgiving dinner, you need to clean up. Start by cleaning out the fridge and freezer. You’re probably going to be making a few of the dishes days in advance, so make sure that you have sufficient space in your refrigerator to store things.
As you do your prep work in the days leading up to and on Thanksgiving, make a concerted effort to clean as you go. Rinse out measuring spoons and tasting spoons as you use them, so you’re not cluttering up your countertop space with multiple sets. Peeling vegetables over a paper towel or newspaper is another easy way to clean up quickly. Not only does cleaning as you go help you stay focused and clutter-free, it will save you from having to spend all night cleaning up.
2. Think Mobility
If your kitchen is small, you’re going to have to be adaptable. One of the ways you can use other areas in your home besides the kitchen for food prep is by using alternative cooking appliances. Instant Pots, air fryers, slow cookers, and hot plates can all be used in different parts of your house (or on the back porch, depending on weather). That way, you can reserve your kitchen for the work that can only be performed there.
You should also look into temporary solutions to your small kitchen problems. You can easily collapse and stash away over-the-sink cutting boards, rolling carts, and card tables when they’re not in use.
3. Break Up the Bird
The traditional Thanksgiving meal typically has a gigantic, golden-brown bird sitting in the middle of the table, but you might not have the space to cook and serve such a bird. If you were like me, my oven simply wasn’t big enough for anything larger than a single chicken, much less a 25-pound turkey!
If this is the case for you, you have a few options. There are several resources out there showing you how to pre-carve your bird so that it takes significantly less time and space to cook. We tried one of these techniques at our Thanksgiving dinner last year, and it was honestly the best turkey dinner I have ever had in my life – bar none!
You could also either forgo the bird or choose a smaller one altogether. A chicken, duck, or Cornish game hen would do nicely.
4. Prepare Ahead of Time
As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to save kitchen space on the big day is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Start by making a list of all of the things you need to make and then divide that list in two ways:
- Things that have to be made the day of
- Things that can be made in advance and then either frozen or refrigerated.
Cranberry sauce, stuffing, pies, and even the turkey can be made in advance and reheated to help ease some of the burden in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day.
It’s also ok to accept help when people offer to bring something to the meal because that’s one less thing that you need to prepare. And, of course, don’t forget the value in some store-bought foods. Pre-purchased rolls, whipped cream, cranberry sauce, and some types of pie can be just as good as homemade and much more convenient in a cramped kitchen.
A little bit of ingenuity can go a long way in making a tiny kitchen more functional, but if you’re ready for an upgrade, call your Seattle kitchen remodel specialists. We can help you make existing spaces more functional or present you with ideas for opening up more space for your kitchen.