I Can Really Cook in my Tiny Kitchenette

Guest Post by Heather Neilson

We are nearing the four month mark of using our basement kitchenette while we are remodeling the upstairs kitchen/dining/family room areas. At first down sizing to such a small area seemed like an impossible task for a family of six, with a mom who LOVES to cook.

It took a couple of years kicking around a few ideas and a trip to IKEA to get inspired.

Here is a video of the installation of the Kitchenette. The cabinets and wall system were purchased at IKEA and installed by us. *note that we planned ahead and put 2X4’s in the wall wherever we knew the wall system would attach. Our home was a basement home from 1939-1944 and we just put a kitchen back where there once was one. It is a walk-out basement and with the kitchenette/living area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom it will make a cozy 700 sq. ft. apartment someday.

Sure, it was cute to look at, but I have been most surprised at how much I can do in this little gem. We eat family dinner together nearly every night and for six people that is no small task. Three of these people are ravenous teenagers. Originally, we had purchased a much smaller fridge, but decided that with all of the milk consumed in this household, a bigger (but still small) one was necessary. The far wall where the “dining area is will revert back to a small living room and the dining table for two you can see part of on the right side of the photo (the flip up kind from IKEA)

I love LOVE LOVE my convection Microwave. I was pretty used to cooking in the Microwave Convection and this year I even made Christmas dinner of Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Mashed Potatoes and got rave reviews from the Children. It is an Amana that I bought several years ago and it fits perfectly under the counter. It was on clearance for $250. Most Convection Microwaves will run about $350-$1,000. Newer ones also have halogen and steam features. There are many over-the-stove models that would also work great that have air filters and lights. I love my Convection Microwave so much that I bought another one for the upstairs kitchen. I can’t believe that these little babies aren’t more popular, because it is pretty unbelievable what you can do in them. There is an element in the back of the oven and a fan that makes it Convection, PLUS it’s a microwave. If you use a microwave safe dish you can combo cook things. In regular convection mode you just use it just like you would it’s larger counterpart and bake and roast to your hearts content. I have even baked a medium and large Papa Murphy’s Pizza in here at the same time. I have had to get a little creative, but there really isn’t much that I haven’t been able to do in my kitchenette.

My LeCreuset even fits for stovetop to oven cooking

 

3 quart covered glass dish from Libby is great for combo cooking

this 12" pan was on the Pet aisle at Cal Ranch for $4. It works great for family sized brownies, casseroles, etc

We were able to make holiday favorites like Chex mix and caramel popcorn in my large bowl

I can even bake bread in here (Oh, and meatloaf too!)

Using the rack from the upstairs convection Microwave I double the amount of cookies I can bake (I also use the bottom cookie sheet as a lid for the "pet" pan shown above).

My second Love in the kitchen is the little $99 Frigidaire Portable induction cooktop.

Induction Cooking uses Electromagnetic technology and turns your pan into the heat element for precise heat control. If a magnet will stick to your pan it will work on this.

60 seconds to boiling, 90 to a full rolling boil

I have pans that stack and can keep one thing warm while another cooks

The one thing that I don’t like about my Induction cooktop is that it emits a high pitch when it starts up and the kids go running…although that isn’t always so bad to have a peaceful kitchen to cook in 🙂

Other favorites:

  • Crock Pot
  • Electric Griddle
  • Waffle Iron….there would be a mutiny if we could not have Waffles on -Sundays.
  • Blender
  • Toaster
  • Hand Mixer ( *sigh*, however I dearly miss my KitchenAid stand mixer)

I have found that I will probably be getting rid of a lot of unnecessary pots and pans and other clutter when I move back upstairs. I have found that while everyone misses having a dishwasher, having a few people in the kitchen to do them by hand is good for conversation and family togetherness. Happy With What You Have Blog

Electric griddle is great for breakfast

 

Portable butane stove with grill attachment

 

collapsible dish pan stores under the sink

 

Popped out and ready to use

 

My kids were sure that NO one else in their whole school had to do dishes by hand, but they have also learned that it's not so bad after all.

 

When I need extra counter space I place my IKEA cutting board over the sink

 

What do you think? Could you use these two things to do nearly all of your cooking? Yes!

 

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Sarah - January 13, 2012 Reply

This is great! You are inspiring me to do more in my own little kitchenette. All to often I use it as an excuse to GO OUT!

Kathleen - January 13, 2012 Reply

Heather thank you so much for this post. It truly IS amazing what you can get from a microwave/convection oven and a burner (or two). I want to put a tiny kitchen of my own together and was wondering if a microwave/convenction oven and a burner could do the trick. It is so nice to have confirmation from someone with firsthand experience that a mini-kitchen is definitely do-able. Thanks again!!

Michelle - January 13, 2012 Reply

excellent use of space! but i have to say – this kitchen is bigger than a lot of NYC kitchens 🙂

MelD - January 13, 2012 Reply

Absolutely, well done! We in Europe are used to much smaller kitchens and appliances, but it must be more difficult if you have to downsize, never having known different.
Even here, people are getting used to bigger kitchens and mine seems very small to many, though I think it’s plenty big enough and wouldn’t mind if it was even smaller. Swiss sizes of appliances were even narrower than the European standard until recently, and that is what is still in my kitchen – the stove, oven and dishwasher are only 21.5″ rather than the usual 23.5″. My mom has a dishwasher that is only barely 18″ wide and that is what I want if we ever redo the kitchen, it’s plenty big enough. My heavy pans need hand washing anyway and you can still get a dinner service for 9 into it! I also have the standard European 4 ring stovetop but only ever use 2 of them, so again, were I redoing, I’d go for only 2 or 3 rings (for my husband, who uses as many as he can get!). I use my microwave for just about everything, but a combination with convection would pretty much replace a regular oven I would imagine.
Oh, and I am not hugely minimalist or anything, just one of any tool or pan is usually enough LOL and I do cook for between 3-8 people on a regular basis and not just one-pot meals, so it’s not like we’re just the two of us or anything!

    Whitworth Deen - December 9, 2013 Reply

    A very interesting, cheerful read. Many thanks. Your enthusiasm encourages me to cook more. Since I became care-taker/assistant/penyata to my elderly Mother, I have learned that the crock pot is a gift from God (a small one for hot oatmeal for breakfast and a large one for dinners/frozen meals.) Also, I enjoyed reading the comments of the Swiss lady telling of the virtues of the smaller appliances used in Europe. The USA and Europe have much that we can learn from each other.

Julie - January 13, 2012 Reply

I also read this post with great interest. I’m in the process of planning a tiny house (400-440sq ft)
and the kitchen is going to be MOST important. Good to see alternative cooking methods mentioned as well. Yeah crock pots!

http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/ - January 13, 2012 Reply

Why do we spend $20k or more on kitchens in standard houses!?! this is what keeps america at the grindstone all their lives ! When we have great solutions like this .The two most expensive rooms in a house are the kit and bath !Why? because we go overboard !! This is a great post .I like the inovative use of space and great gadgets .;)

blessed - January 13, 2012 Reply

Just in case your kids are interested–we are a family of 6 in a 550 sq ft. house, and we do all our dishes by hand too! Frankly, it’s kinda fun, and if you are like most people, you would be half washing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher anyway. : )

Darren Genge - January 13, 2012 Reply

Love the post…

alice h - January 13, 2012 Reply

Good practical info, especially the convection microwave oven. Nobody I know has one but this has definitely provided a good view of what you can fit in it. I can bake bread, cakes and cookies in my toaster oven but it’s not very insulated so likely not energy efficient. This looks much better. Lots of prep space in your kitchen too.

Bob H - January 13, 2012 Reply

Nice & functional, great small kitchen. This is a great kitchen layout for a small house or cabin. Good luck with your great room remodel.

Tom - January 13, 2012 Reply

I can’t quite make out the name on the grill attachment for your butane camp stove. Where did you get it?

    Heather - January 14, 2012 Reply

    It is called JoyCook. It is a company out of Korea, I believe. Camp Chef makes a similar model.

jgodsey - January 13, 2012 Reply

please look at the picture again…this is not in any sense of the word a TINY kitchen and i am a little offended that it is labeled so. that room is enormous compared to many found in small apartments. i WISH i had that much room in my kitchen. as it is, mine is 1/3rd the size with no room for a table.

    alice h - January 13, 2012 Reply

    I’m sure they’re just referring to the working bits, not the surroundings. The amount of counter space and types of appliances and space they take up are similar to something you would use in a tiny or small house, though probably you’d put in a smaller fridge.

terminalcitygirl - January 13, 2012 Reply

Lots of great ideas here that folks can use in a kitchen of whatever size. Thanks for sharing.

Eric - January 13, 2012 Reply

I spent 10 years in paris and this this how I was doing it 😀
…memories ! 🙂

It works just fine ! good job !

Nerida - January 13, 2012 Reply

Love my convection/microwave as well, cant remember how I ever managed without it. Dishwasher? Thats what you have kids for 🙂

Scott - January 13, 2012 Reply

Very slick kitchen. I’ve always loved the microwave/convection oven combo idea. You have some great ideas in there. Thanks for the post.

tucson computer rental - January 13, 2012 Reply

Having nice furniture in my house is something that brings joy to my heart. When I walk into a room full of color- cordinated, furniture and paintings, my face lights up. Let’s keep it classy people.

    Mambocat - January 19, 2012 Reply

    Not clear if your comment is a compliment or a complaint. There is certainly nothing “wrong” with the efficient use of space here and wise choice of items.

brooklyngreene - January 13, 2012 Reply

Thank you so much for sharing this! I love your take on all of this and your small kitchen really seems like a big kitchen and so well thought out. I love it!

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - January 13, 2012 Reply

I love my Induction One-Burner Cooktop too (DUXTOP $69 on Amazon). I keep my kitchen so minimal for tiny living – the DUXTOP and one Lodge Deep Cast Iron Skillet and a Microwave. Thank you for all of the info on Induction Microwaves because I’ve been tossing around how to do baking without adding an appliance, and now I don’t need to because of your knowledge. I can just give the Microwave away and get one that’s Induction and still only have my two kitchen appliances. Thank You So Much!

Agent L - January 14, 2012 Reply

I cut a hole on my counter top to fit my induction cooktop single burner. It lays flat on the surface that way.

I always use it and its awesome. I get so much from my kitchen.

Liz - January 14, 2012 Reply

I don’t usually comment (although I love this website.) I really enjoyed this article, because it seemed like a great between step when going from a big old American kitchen to a tiny kitchen. I’ve been slowly downsizing my kitchen – I don’t like to cook much anyway – and this has given me some more solid ideas to do it. Nice job!

manzur alam - January 14, 2012 Reply

nice blogging..i think lot of information about kitchen. what a great idea just keep it….thank you

Heather - January 14, 2012 Reply

Thanks for your comments everyone! I agree that many kitchens are indeed much, much smaller, but the picture was taken with a wide angle lens, which makes things seem bigger (and I was kneeling on the floor because the ceilings are 6’9″ tall in there.) It seems allot smaller when you get my teenagers and husband in there who are all over 6’2″ 🙂 If I were to do it all over again I would probably go with an over the stove Microwave/Convection because it has the fan and lights built in to the unit and then see if I could find someone in Europe to buy the 2 burner built in induction cooktop from IKEA since it is not available here in America.
Many people in my area have homes that are so big that you could literally take my entire home and turn it up on end and that would just take up their living room It just doesn’t make much sense to heat and cool such an area and I love the tiny house blog because of the mindset that simple and smaller might be better. My teenagers would like to build a Tiny house on wheels while they attend college, because they agree that the size of your home does not correlate with one’s happiness and peace of mind.

    M. - February 1, 2012 Reply

    Would the electrical connections of the IKEA unit be compatible with US systems?

Claudia - January 14, 2012 Reply

Thanks for sharing all your great ideas! To be honest, I find a small kitchen like yours far more efficient than the big kitchens you often see on HGTV, because the latter encourage people to stow away far more kitchen gear and dishes than they use.

I’m house-sitting for some friends who have a kitchen three times the size of yours, and I’m constantly having to walk from one end of the room to the other. Nothing is quick and easy. It’s a lovely kitchen with all the bells and whistles, but yours is so much more practical!!

DeeDee - January 14, 2012 Reply

I would love to have some of your recipes, cooking times, etc. We have an Advantium convection microwave, but I have never tried to “cook from scratch” in it.
Thanks!

    Heather - January 14, 2012 Reply

    Hi Dee Dee,
    An Anvantium would be a really fun thing to have. I think they are the nicer ones that also use light to cook things even faster. Have you checked out some of the videos on the GE site?
    http://www.geappliances.com/products/introductions/advantium/explore_gallery.htm
    Yours should come with allot of pre-programmed settings for cooking times. I’ll have to look for a bit to find a couple of favorite recipes.

      Heather - January 14, 2012 Reply

      I do allot of make one main dish and then use the leftovers for something different the next day (Roast beef, gravy and mashed potatoes for Sunday Dinner turns into Beef Stroganoff the next night using the leftover beef and gravy)
      Here is what I do with leftover grilled or baked chicken: (Not an exact recipe…..adjust as needed)
      Curry Chicken Salad
      Mix everything in a large bowl:
      1-2 Chicken breasts cooked, refrigerated, and chopped
      2-4 stalks of celery sliced
      2-4 apples cut into bite sized pieces
      2-4 cups of red or other dark seedless grapes cut in half
      ½-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
      ½-3/4 cup Mayonaise (you can also use plain Greek Yogurt with a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar or Mix the two ) I usually mix the two. Add more Mayo or yogurt if it seems dry.
      Add Curry to taste and Mix
      Use as a Sandwich spread or mix in with cooked, drained and cooled bowtie pasta

Missy - January 14, 2012 Reply

Love this blog post. Having lived in an rv for the last 8 years, I know small kitchens. With that said I will also say that I have gleaned several ideas that I will be including in my newest rv kitchen. I love the collapsible dish pan. May I ask what brand of pans you are using. I have been looking for new pans and want multipurpose ones for an induction. Thank you.

    Heather - January 14, 2012 Reply

    Hi Missy,
    They are called “Worlds Finest” and are a knockoff of the Waterless cookware that you may see demonstrated at home shows, fairs, etc. A set should run about $299-$350 on Amazon. The blue one shown is LeCruset, but I think that Lodge and even Better Homes&Gardens(at Walmart) make a pretty good version of enameled cast Iron. I also have some antique cast Iron pans that work great on the Induction. Pretty much anything that a magnet will stick to.

Dana - January 14, 2012 Reply

We are a family of 12 that downsized from 2400sf to less than 400. We fulltime in our RV, and love the simplicity. The kitchen has been the hardest part to downsize since I love to cook, and I have to cook a lot (portions!). I couldn’t do without my crockpot! I would love to replace the micro in the toy hauler with a convection oven…

Hazel - January 15, 2012 Reply

This is a perfect sized kitchen not a ‘tiny kitchenette’ IMHO, about the same size as my eat-in kitchen.

One way to limit the need for space is to eat vegetarian meals; this limits the prep, the mess, the grease, and the clean-up. Rice, pasta, quinoa, barley, beans, lentils, tofu, veggies, and fruit make up most of my diet. Easy for small spaces and good for health and the environment.

Sarah Weisiger - January 15, 2012 Reply

I’ve been using a Cadco Compact Countertop Convection Oven and Cast Iron Heavy Duty Range (single portable cooktop)
http://www.cadco-ltd.com/index.html
for over 12 years and love the simplicity of the appliances. They sit atop an antique workbench that is about 9 feet long and serves as my kitchen counter. I don’t currently live in a “tiny” house and people often ask me why I don’t get a “normal” stove. When I build and move into my dream tiny home they will come with me. Once you go tiny you never return to “normal”.

Tiny House Living – January 16, 2012 | Tiny House Living - January 16, 2012 Reply

[…] I Can Really Cook in my Tiny Kitchenette tinyhouseblog.com Guest Post by Heather Neilson We are nearing the four month mark of using our basement kitchenette while we are remodeling the upstairs kitchen/dining/family room areas. At first down sizing to such a small area seemed like an impossible task for a family of six, with a mom who LOVES to cook.  […]

di - January 29, 2012 Reply

Other ideas:

-Try one-pot recipes.
-Store a portable stovetop, stackable pans and weekly dry goods under a kitchen sink.
-Store eating / cooking utensils in a tall, narrow basket on a window sill.
-Use a pot as a mixing bowl and a mug as a ladle.
-Use a spoon or mug to measure and a fork to whisk.
-Rather than a plate, use just a bowl.
-Rather than a glass, use just a mug.
-Try a pull-out cutting board.
-To beautify, stand plates and glasses vertically on open, narrow shelving over a counter top. Add mug hooks beneath the lowest shelf.
-Rather than a dishrack, dry dishes on a towel.
-Dry wet dish towels on hooks under a kitchen sink.

I prefer to store all utility items and only display my decorative dinnerware. It creates a more pleasant atmosphere.

sesameB - January 30, 2012 Reply

This is great! I, too, have my own little kitchenette. PS: here is a nice read about one of my favorite artist:
December 30, 2011 Eva Zeisel, Ceramic Artist and Designer, Dies at 105 By WILLIAM L. HAMILTON
“Men have no concept of how to design things for the home,” she told a writer. “Women should design the things they use.” Eva Zeisel, a ceramic artist whose elegant, eccentric designs for dinnerware in the 1940s and ’50s helped to revolutionize the way Americans set their tables, died on Friday in New City, N.Y. She was 105. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Jean Richards.

M. - February 1, 2012 Reply

I really appreciated this post. Since we had purchased a couple portable induction burners and have been planning for a convection microwave oven in our future little home. It was great to read about practical experiences in the kitchen—especially with those appliances.

For example, I have been making a very popular apple cinnamon swirl bread here and had been wondering if it would work if I got a convection oven. I see you’ve had success with it. In my convection toaster oven, the tops will burn if the recipe is too tall. Does the top brown faster at all in your convection microwave oven?

    Heather - February 21, 2012 Reply

    I got it from a local lady that sells restaurant supplies. I bought it 7 or 8 years ago The brand is JoyCook

    Heather - February 21, 2012 Reply

    …sorry the last comment was for the next one down 🙂 I don’t have trouble with browning the tops too much in my unit, but the element is on the back wall . On some convection microwave units the element and fan are on the top. The only think I don’t like about my unit is the fact that I can’t get a really crispy crust on a pizza. Other than that it works great for breads.

Chris - February 10, 2012 Reply

Where did you get the grill attachment for the butane stove, I’ve been looking for one forever…

Thanks

Deb W - February 15, 2012 Reply

You have lots of good ideas for the small-space kitchen, but…. In a real small space – not just a small space inside a full sized house – where would you store all those appliances?

That is a problem I have in my townhouse, where to put the electric skillet or cooktop? That cool butane grill you have, or in my case, the mini George Forman Grill and crockpot? I try to stay as non-electric as possible, i.e. a knife, not a food processor, but some of those great ideas have to be stored in between times, and I still haven’t found a solution to that.

Terry - March 24, 2012 Reply

Please go Vegan and have more room in fridge and less cooking needed. Better health longer life.
Your page is great wonderful organization and lifestyle GOOD Job

francis - April 16, 2012 Reply

Hey, i wish my studio kitchen was that roomie and not as cramped as it is . I think the land lord would do well with a half oven and two burner induction in here too.

Erin B - June 5, 2012 Reply

Where did you find the collapsible dish pan?

Susie - April 13, 2013 Reply

What a great way to practice before moving into your Tiny House. I love cooking, and have cooked for a living before, now I’m reading up on how microwaves change the molecular structure of our food. It seems that it can be quite damaging to our long term health (bummer ‘cos it’s so convenient) I always thought it was healthy to steam veggies and fish in them, and great to reheat stuff, but with what I’m finding out, I won’t have one when I get my Tiny home. Instead, I’m looking more into a precision temperature controlled induction hot plate by Noro (big infomercial, comes with lots of cookware about $100-) They also do a portable convection/conduction counter top oven, comes with a couple of other gadgets that would also be handy, one that looks like a magic bullet, also around $100- the thing is, they use less energy because they cook in such a short time compared to conventional ways, and the food’s molecular integrity has not been messed with.

I’ve been pinning a bunch of ideas for organization, space saving, etc. on my pinterest – great tool by the way, by the time I’m ready to build, I should have it all planned out, and really neat yet safe for an older person with abused knees (mis-spent youth)
http://pinterest.com/susieq007vt/tiny-house-ideas/
Here is the link to the ideas I have gathered so far – the Noro induction hot plate is not there, but it’s a very common as an infomercial. By the time I can afford to have mine built, there will be something better, I am sure.
My kitchen has quite a lot of counter space for a double wide, but I find that I stick mainly to the 36″ between the stove and the sink for all my prep, even when I’m having a lot of company over, so I think I’ll make the transition ok. I’ve decided that since I’ll be getting rid of 90% of my kitchen equipment, I am going to splurge on some really pretty Portuguese style plates, that will be stored vertically for decoration as suggested by another blogger. I really like the clean look of everything tucked away when not in use. There is a slide out pantry, only 6″wide, but counter deep, floor to ceiling idea, that I think is just genius!
To boil water for Tea or Coffee, I already use a plug in electric kettle similar to Europe, they are really gaining in popularity here now. I have a handy little drip filter from melita that sits on top of my mug, so I won’t need a coffee machine either. I can’t wait, I’m getting excited just thinking about it!!! 🙂

Chelsea - February 14, 2014 Reply

Thank you so much for the great post! We are downsizing soon from 1500 to 400 sq ft and I’ve been thinking a lot about the kitchen environment. I make a lot of smoothies and raw snacks (blender and dehydrator), but I think it’s important to have a microwave, oven, and all the other good stuff for those in my family who don’t eat like I do. And you’re post covers it all.

Totally awesome. Thank you!

nanoo - September 3, 2017 Reply

Great article.

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