Think the best meals come from a Williams Sonoma-like kitchen? Nah. You can cook for your family in a small kitchen!
TRUTH BOMB: I’ve cooked in million-dollar private homes many times in the past from New York to Vancouver to Houston. As gorgeous and sometimes mind-blowing these luxury kitchens were, they were hardly ever used. What a waste, right? I’d be cooking night and day there!
When I looked into the kitchen cabinets, I would find pots and pans that did not match the caliber of kitchen. You could tell that they didn’t cook on a regular basis.
The best meals come from kitchens, no matter what size. Cooking is an acquired skill that only gets better through practice and consistency. And you can do this from a tiny but mighty kitchen.
Read on to discover how you can make the most of even the smallest or most basic kitchen. With the following tips, you can be inspired to create delicious home-cooked meals any day of the week. And yes, you can still have more than one person doing all the work. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home, this is where we should be getting together to strengthen bonds with our loved ones.
1. Use Your Dining Table as a Food prep table
Don’t have enough space for all the peeling, cutting, and other pre-cooking tasks?
Maybe your kitchen is not big enough for all the family members to work together. No worries! You can use your dining table as a food prep table.
The best thing about this makeshift prep area is that it comes with chairs! You can consider the chairs as different working stations for the tinier hands in your family – how about a little peeling station or a cutting station for your toddler if they can’t reach the kitchen counter? Even if you have them work with plastic utensils, it keeps them busy, sparks their interest in the kitchen and paves the way to being part of cooking with you in the future.
While this can sound like you may need to babysit them even more, I wouldn’t worry about the mess they create at this stage. It will be worth it.
You can divide the tasks and have a conversation while you prep. If you have an open kitchen, you can move the dining table closer to the counter, and voila! A kitchen island of your own! See? You can cook for your family even in a small kitchen. Keep reading…
2. Use an Over-the-Sink Cutting Board
Alternative to the dining cum food prep table, if your home cooking budget allows, you can invest in an over-the-sink cutting board. It is one of the best ways to put the existing kitchen to good use. It would provide more preparation space and enable you to get more done. Who says you need to spend money on creating countertop space to the tune or granite or quartz? You can easily fake it with an over-the-sink cutting board and put it away when you’re done.
Besides, the cutting board is just what parents who are desperate for food preparation space need. If there is an open drawer, you could place the cutting board over it and use it as a side table. However, it would need to be fairly sturdy. Don’t try this if you’re not 100% it will stay in place.
Take Advantage of Paper Towels
One of the most tedious tasks of cooking is the cleaning that follows! It tends to discourage parents from cooking at home. But you need to understand that cleaning up doesn’t require much effort or space.
We all have paper towels lying around, and you can use them to your advantage! Peel vegetables over them so you can keep your work area neat.
As soon as you are done peeling, you should be able to move on to the next task. You can simply wrap the peeled skin in the paper towel, use it to gather any remnants and throw the whole thing in the trash can. Voilá!
Even your toddler can help you carry the paper towels to the dust bin and be part of your dinner time ritual. Giving them a job makes them feel included and keeps them busy as you prepare dinner.
Reuse Utensils to Stay Under Your Home Cooking Budget
Instead of wasting time or money searching and getting new utensils and tools, you should simply rinse and reuse the ones you already own. The more “stuff” you have, the more you’ll end up cleaning up after. Just clean it when you need it. Plus don’t you think that it’s always a pain to have to figure out where those new gadgets should be stored? Ugggh. I hate that!
Store Everything Within Reach
Want to get done with your cooking quickly after a long day at work? Organizing your kitchen is the key! Creating space for everything you need and placing them within reach ensures that you don’t waste time searching high and low for something you need. Maximizing spaces inside kitchen cabinets and drawers is a great way to do this without having to purchase a hutch or a baker’s rack.
Assign Everyone a Job
As much as you might want to get everything done on your own, you could always use some help.
That is why you should get everyone involved. Preparing family meals doesn’t need to be a one-person show. The more each member contributes, the easier it would be for you to cook delicious meals. Moreover, it would allow everyone to come together and bond. Cooking together as a family is one of the top dinner-time rituals you can incorporate into your life!
While preparing dinner, your child could set the paper napkins and plates on the table. As for your partner, they could help with the dishes. When everyone pitches in, you get to focus on cooking great meals and everyone else feels like they were part of the process.
You don’t need an expensive kitchen or a luxurious dining room to make memorable meals when you have family that wants to spend time with you, prepping and cooking. When you cook for your family even in a small kitchen, you’re teaching and showing your kids that healthy, homemade meals are possible for everyone.
Stick to Easy Dinner Recipes
Easy dinner recipes for the family are there for a reason. There’s no need for you to make things complicated for yourself. Extravagant meals that require a lot of effort are better left for the weekend, when you have more time. In fact, many easy recipes allow you to cook equally tasty meals.
If you want to try some of my recipes, snag my FREE mini recipe e-book with 5 of the most popular dishes my students cooked with me on the Outschool platform during the height of the pandemic. These recipes have found a cozy spot in the kitchens of many kids and parents and they continue to cook the same meals, 2 years after.
You can get your FREE copy right HERE.
Wrapping it up
So there you have it. Little tricks so that you can cook for your family in a small kitchen. A regular dinner ritual is an important part of family life. It helps make sure that your kids feel secure and loved, and it gives you a chance to connect with them.
Creating a good meal doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming – with a little bit of planning, you can have a delicious home-cooked dinner every night. You can take things to the next level by placing flowers on the table, lighting a candle, and saying grace.
Let’s be insta-buddies
Send a DM if you tried any of the recipes and feel free to tag me so I can see your culinary creation!