Living in an apartment that’s on the smaller side poses different challenges from room to room—and there’s no room it’s truer for than a small kitchen.
You don’t realize how much space means to a kitchen until you try to operate in a small one. Cooking, storage, organizing, what you can and can’t have—all of it changes when you’re trying to make a small kitchen functional (which is necessary if you don’t want yet another reason to order take-out every night).
After 18 months of making the most of my tiny kitchen, I’ve found ways that allow me to make the most of the space and actually enjoy the process of cooking. Trying to maximize your own space? These five small-kitchen hacks have changed the game for me:
1. I treat myself to Blue Apron
When it comes to cooking myself meals, I don’t have the space to keep a sauce I’m only going to use for one recipe or a spice I use twice a year, but I also don’t want to eat the same monotonous meals over and over. The solution? Blue Apron.
My Blue Apron subscription allows me to try new, delicious dishes without needing to buy an excess of groceries that will go to waste once I use the amount I need for a recipe. Sauces, produce, and spices all come in the exact amount you need for every recipe, which means that I’m getting the meals I want without all of the excess ingredients that often come with making a new recipe.
I love the variety Blue Apron offers—I love swapping between pastas, meats, and salads—and that it can be tailored to me, even though I’m cooking for one (in a tiny kitchen, no less). It’s allowed me to try new meals and get adventurous with my cooking—things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.
2. I invested in small appliances
My kitchen came without a microwave, so in addition to the things I wanted to buy, like an instant pot and a toaster, I also needed to buy a microwave that could fit on my counter without taking up too much space, which I soon discovered wasn’t going to be as big of an issue as I thought.
It turns out that brands often make smaller versions of appliances, for everything from air fryers to coffee machines. I bought the mini version of every appliance I needed and kept a cabinet space free, so when I wasn’t using something, I could store them away and out of site. Since I’m only cooking for one person, this works perfectly, and it ensures that I have room for everything I want to cook with.
I tell just about every person that will listen how much I adore my air fryer; it graduated from a space in a cabinet to my countertop because I quite literally use it every single day. It makes cooking meat (something I ordinarily absolutely dread) as easy as place it inside and setting the timer, and I find myself reaching for it for things that aren’t as obvious to air fry too (looking at you, cauliflower gnocci). At this point, I hardly even touch my stove or oven because I’m whipping up so many meals in my handy little air fryer.
3. I maximize storage
I’m not generally the most organized person on Earth, but when it came to my kitchen, I knew I needed to invest in in-cabinet storage to keep the cabinets as functional as possible.
Rather than just throwing everything into my cabinets willy-nilly, I got baskets and racks so everything in them is both easy to reach and easy to find. While it took a bit of effort to start, it now doesn’t take any more day-to-day effort than being my generally unorganized self, and it ensures I don’t get frustrated by cluttered drawers and ingredients I can’t find. I put similar items (like baking ingredients or protein bars and supplements) all in baskets together within my cabinets so I can fit the maximum amount possible without cluttering.
4. I utilize a bar cart
I try to keep my countertops as free of clutter as possible, which became a challenge when it came to coffee products. I have an espresso machine, Keurig, and a french press, which was far too much to keep on my countertops in addition to my microwave (and also were too difficult to put away constantly because I use them every day).
To fix my problem, I bought a bar cart and turned the top level of it into a coffee bar. I keep all of my coffee machines on it, which means that they’re both accessible and out of the way. Not only is it super functional space-wise, but with some decorating, it actually is cute and has turned into my favorite part of the kitchen. A hack that saves space and looks good? That’s one I’ll take.
5. I keep it uncluttered
I’ve found that the key to keeping my kitchen free of clutter (and therefore maximized in functionality) is to be consistent with my cleaning.
At the end of every night before I go to bed, I make sure to put any clutter and dishes away in their places and wipe everything down with cleaning spray. Starting each day with a clean slate helps me make sure my kitchen doesn’t get overwhelmingly cluttered, which happens easily (and without much effort) in a smaller space. It’s a small step in my day that makes a big difference overall, and it helps keep my kitchen functioning as much as its little self can at all times.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.