We know cooking in a small kitchen has its challenges; the lack of countertop space, the too-tight quarters, and the endless question of where to put everything is enough sometimes to drive a reasonable person batty!
But while it's tempting to wallow in photos of kitchens that are bigger than your whole apartment (wah!), it's probably better for your mental health long-term to realize that small kitchens have their advantages, and you should be proud to cook in one. Here are five reasons why.
1. You've learned how to edit and prioritize your stuff.
Learning what to buy, keep, and get rid of is no easy thing. It takes practice, with lots of decluttering and tidying along the way (and sometimes a little regret).
But thanks to working in a small kitchen, you've probably absorbed these rules a lot better than if you'd had oodles of space to fiddle around with. You know the tools you personally need and use (and those you don't) and how to take care of them. You live by the one-in, one-out rule, so as a result, you feel like you really have a handle on things in your kitchen. Bravo!
2. You've developed good cooking habits out of necessity.
Every cook, no matter the size of the kitchen, knows smart habits make cooking life better, but small-kitchen cooks really know this. You know that using a garbage bowl makes it easier to clean as you go. You know how important it is to keep on top of your refrigerator and freezer. You know to rinse and reuse tools instead of grabbing a new one, and you have a nighttime kitchen routine down pat, which is crucial for starting the next day right!
All of these little habits add up to a cooking life that is organized, workable, and sane, and if it weren't for your tiny kitchen, you may have never needed to truly master them.
You may dream of having a large pantry — shelves stocked from top to bottom with months' worth of ingredients and supplies — but with only a cabinet or two and a small refrigerator, that's a luxury you can't afford.
But it's okay! You've learned that buying less at a time and shopping more often has an unseen benefit: You're much less likely to let food go to waste because there's less to use up at a time, and you can always see everything you've bought. It's more work, but it's also more rewarding.
4. You know how to maximize every square inch.
What some see as an empty wall or dead corner, you see as an opportunity. You're hardwired now to make the most of every bit of available space in your kitchen, from using the walls for storage to doubling your interior cabinet space. You don't even let the space on those cabinet doors go to waste!
5. You haven't let the size of your kitchen dictate what you can or cannot cook.
As Mark Bittman once wrote for The New York Times, "So your kitchen is tiny. So what?" You still throw dinner parties and host Thanksgiving in your small apartment, which means that, yes, you have to cook everything in your small kitchen. But as Bittman wrote, "When it comes to kitchens, size and equipment don’t count nearly as much as devotion, passion, common sense and, of course, experience ... As runners run and writers write, cooks cook, under pretty much any circumstance."
Cheers to that!
Are you proud of how you've learned to cook and cope in a small kitchen?
(Image credits: Leela Cyd; Elsa Young via Design*Sponge; Pablo Enriquez; Michaela Cisney; IKEA Family Live)