If the prospect of cooking a huge holiday meal in your small apartment kitchen has you frustrated, you’re not alone. Many of us who live in rental apartments, especially in large urban cities, suffer from lack of space and not just in the kitchen! But during the holidays it’s easier to let the pinch of too little counter space, oven space, breathing space get to you. If you dive into meal prep head first without planning you will inevitably hit the wall before your guests ever arrive. Avoid a holiday meltdown in your kitchen by orchestrating your celebration in advance with these tips in mind.
Holiday Cooking Tips:
- Big Bird, Big Oven: A big bird in a small oven is a bad idea for a few reasons. Consider cooking two smaller birds (chicken or turkey) instead of one large one. It takes less time to cook two smaller birds then one big one leaving you with more time to get those side dishes in there! Or, consider serving a nice holiday ham which you can buy or cook in advance and serve at room temperature.
- Utilize All of Your Kitchen Space: If every dish requires the oven, you are going to end up serving cold food to unhappy friends and family. Work through a menu of recipes that can be prepared on the stove top, that don’t require cooking at all or that can be made in advance and served at room temperature. That way, you aren’t totally dependent on your one tiny oven. Oven roasted vegetables can be cooked in advance and re-heated using the microwave or stove-top. Mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables can be made on the stove top and crisp autumnal salads filled with nuts and cherries offer freshness to an otherwise heavy traditional menu.
- Not-So-Homemade: Passing off store bought items as your own is nothing new and certainly nothing to be ashamed of in our opinion. It’s hard to cook for a crowd—why not have some help! Purchase a few side dishes that you can heat in the microwave or on the stove top to keep your tiny kitchen chugging along at the right pace. Stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and other gourmet grocers have so many wonderful, “just like homemade” options these days. When the compliments roll in just say: “Thank you; I worked really hard on that!”
- Put Potluck on Your Side: This tip is also great for those who have tiny budgets to go along with their tiny apartment kitchens! Plan your menu and then ask each of your guests to bring a particular dish to complete the meal. If you’re dying to serve your family recipes, or ones you’ve seen in a magazine, just email them around. Just be sure to save the more difficult recipes for yourself or better cooks in the group. Going pot luck is a great way to ease the pressure on your pocketbook and your tiny kitchen.
- Small Appliances Pack a Big Punch: If your kitchen is seriously lacking cooking space or equipment, consider the many small appliances that can help. Between friends, family and neighbors you just might be able to borrow these things if you don’t want to purchase them. There are slow cookers and electric roasters that can fit a whole turkey, cook your stuffing and more. Electric grills, griddles and skillets just need an outlet and voila, more cooking capacity! Portable burners can add more fire power if you need it and don’t forget the toaster oven, great for roasting nuts, garlic and other small jobs.
If you missed our last post, here are a few more suggestions for holiday entertaining in a small space as well. We hope all of these tips help keep you stress free so that you can spend more time enjoying your friends and family this holiday season.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays from Rent.com!