If your small kitchen has you worried about how to swing a big meal, you’re not alone. Many of us apartment renters grapple with limited space; and not just in the kitchen.
Don’t let the lack of kitchen space—or personal space, for that matter—get you down as your guests arrive for the big meal. Instead, use these five cooking tips, from foodie experts at Rent.com, to plan your best dinner ever.
Plan a Menu that Uses All of Your Small Kitchen
Think carefully about your menu. You want a grouping of dishes that require different cooking methods so that you aren’t totally dependent on your one tiny oven. If every dish requires the oven, you are going to end up hot under the collar over serving your guests cold food.
Work out 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 cold or at room temperature. Oven roasted vegetables can be reheated using the microwave with no ill-effect. Mashed potatoes and stuffing ares stovetop fare and a refreshing salad offers a nice counterbalance to the carbs.
Realize There is No Shame in Store Bought
We’ve all been there. It’s down-right hard work cooking for a crowd. Why not take a little help where you can get it. Purchase a few side dishes that you can heat in the microwave or on the stove top to keep your small kitchen, and your sanity, from crumbling under the pressure.
Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s or your local gourmet grocer have so many fantastic, just-like-homemade options these days. When the compliments roll in just say: Thank you!
Put Pot-Luck On Your Side
This tip is also great for those who have tiny budgets to go along with their tiny apartment kitchens! Outline the type of menu you’d like to have and then ask each of your guests to bring something. Going potluck is a great way to ease the pressure on your pocketbook and your small kitchen.
Leverage Small Appliances for Big Impact
Slow cookers and electric roasters can be a lifesaver in a small kitchen. All you need is an outlet and you’re ready! Portable burners can add more fire power if you need it and don’t forget the toaster oven, great for roasting nuts and other small jobs. Try borrowing these things from your foodie friends if you don’t want to purchase them.
Clean as You Go
Cooking an elaborate meal is challenging enough without having to work around a big mess. When you’re done using a pot, pan, bowl or other appliance, wash it right away—or at least rinse it and toss it in the dishwasher. This way, it won’t be taking up precious counter space.
Another helpful tip: Put ingredients away as you use them. I know when I have seven different spices scattered around a small counter, I can tend to get overwhelmed and lose my focus. After you’ve added the necessary ingredient to your dish, take the three extra seconds to put it away. When your countertops are clean, you’ll be happy you did.
Take Advantage of Vertical Storage
Not everything has to be stored in kitchen cabinets and on countertops. Add open shelving to your walls to keep dinnerware and other appliances easily reachable, but out of the way when you’re preparing dinner.
Invest in a pot rack to hang above your kitchen island. This way, you can keep bulky pots and pans organized, and open up lots of space in your cabinets for other kitchen essentials.
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