After living in a small space for over 5 years now one thing has become completely obvious. While kitchens are essential, the ones that stocked like the clearance section of Bed, Bath and Beyond, are not. There are so many tools and gadgets available to the novice cook that one can easily get blurry eyes trying to decide how to best organize their tiny house kitchen; what is essential and what isn’t.
That said, let me point out the things that I have found to be almost useless that have subsequently found their way out of our small kitchen:
- Ice cream maker
- A juicer that takes a long time to come apart and is hard to clean
- Specialized Glassware meaning an assortment of wine glasses, beer mugs, tea glasses, champagne flutes, etc. and in sets of four nonetheless
- Multiple sizes of casserole dishes
- Cheesecake spring form pans
- Frosting tubes and kits
- Service wear that is themed for a one-day holiday
- A full block of knives including a double serrated grapefruit pulverizer thingee
- Cookbooks that are not sentimental in some way but are just printed versions of online recipes
- Sauce ramekins
RULE OF THUMB: If you haven’t used it in 6 weeks, it is non-essential and can be liberated from your kitchen.
All that said, let’s talk about what I have found to be essential in the small kitchen:
- Manual can opener
- A paring knife
- A bread knife
- A chef’s knife
- A teapot
- A sautee pan
- A stock pot
- A 10″ frying pan
- Silverware for four (w/ steak knives)
- Bamboo spoon, spatula, pasta spoon, set
- A whisk
- Ball jars that when emptied of preserved food, become drinking glasses
- A cutting board
- A 9″x11″ Pyrex
- A colander
- Dinnerware for four
There is probably a few things I left out and I did not mention our “coffee station” which we take very seriously and includes a standard 12-cup coffee pot, a french press, a manual bean grinder, a frother, and a Whirly-Pop because we grind our own beans!
Just getting rid of a few things means nothing though unless there is a reason why and you adapt your cooking/preparing to really take advantage of those tools. Below are some tips and ideas to help you better organize your tiny house kitchen.
MOVE TO CAST IRON. Doomsday preppers are not the only ones who have found cast iron to be a handy tool. While heavier than stainless steel or ceramic coated cookware, cast iron can be used on the stovetop or an open fire. They are fantastic tools. Lodge has become the go-to brand it seems andThe Lodge Signature series is sold at most outdoor supply stores, Bass Pro shops, and Cracker Barrel restaurants nationwide. Its more expensive cousin, the Le Creuset enamel-coated cast iron (sold at Williams-Sonoma), is a more decorative looking tool, however both styles get the job done extremely well. Cast iron can withstand extremely high temperature, they cook easily, and washing them after each use actually hurts them rather than helps.
TAKE STOCK. Since we live less than an hour from the Atlantic Ocean our summers (and even early falls) are filled with fish stews, shrimp stews, steamed crabs, steamed shrimp, oysters, and the like! Such cooking (and even when moving into chili season and vegetable soup season, in the mid-fall) demands a proper stock pot with lid. The best can be found at restaurant supply stores, has a chrome finish, and can withstand the heat of even an outdoor propane cooker. At just over $50 a good 16-quart covered stockpot is a must.
RETHINK THE FRIDGE. The modern American kitchen is dominated by the refrigerator. Stores are even now stocking fridges that have built in Keurig machines, are Bluetooth compatible, and even have an interior door camera so you can see the fridge contents on an exterior screen without ever opening the door. The issue is they are huge though! Well, they are huge and expensive. In fact, at just under $4k and measuring 4′ wide by 3′ deep, “standard” fridges now are larger than some entire kitchen spaces in a tiny house! Rethinking the need for a fridge is an important way to better organize. In fact, here are a few things often found in the American fridge that simply don’t need to be:
- Hot sauce
- Peanut butter
- Most fruits
If you don’t drink milk, have a water filter on your counter, don’t save leftovers, and prefer room temperature cheese wheels to refrigerated cheese spreads and slices, you can downsize to quite a small fridge and maximize the use of kitchen space.
A GOOD GLOVE. I can’t say it enough. Throw away the hot pot mats and the crocheted oven mitts and all of the stuff that hangs in odd places throughout your kitchen. Replace them all with just a nice, silicone oven mitt. They protect from everything and are universal in use. You can’t burn them on a hot potato.
BREAK IT DOWN. Part of organizing is understanding your space; using your space to its fullest potential. Our kitchen has collapsible bowls, a collapsible dish drainer, a collapsible strainer, collapsible measuring cups, and the list goes on. We also have nesting bowls and dishware that is sized sequentially to take up as little space as possible. Try not to think of such tools as “camping gear” or apartment-style. A number of brands are making high-quality, space-saving tools such as the ones mentioned and they can be incredible ways to organize an already limited space.
How have you organized your tiny house kitchen? In what ways have you saved space, downsized, or just made things make more sense? Do you have a tip or a tool that others need to know about? Leave a comment below. If you like this article, consider sharing it on Facebook or Google+ or tweeting out the link!