When I think of my dream kitchen, I fantasize about sexy appliances. A shiny Italian espresso machine. Pots and pans hanging and gleaming from the ceiling. If I had a dutch oven, a wine fridge, a masticating juicer and a full set of Japanese chef’s knives, my life would be easy and fulfilled.
However, Mark Bittman, the famed New York Times columnist who created many of his recipes in his humble 7′ X 6′ kitchen, said we only need, “A stove, a sink, a refrigerator, some pots and pans, a knife and some serving spoons. All else is optional.”
He’s right. We don’t need fancy gadgets or a big kitchen to make food taste good. But if you wish to enhance your cooking space beyond the bare necessities, here are some tips I’ve learned from my tiny apartment. They’re also easy on the wallet and our planet.
Nesting bowls, measuring cups and spoons take up less space in your drawer and come in fun, cheery colours. Image: Amazon
Clear modular canisters stack neatly on your shelf. Image: Oxo
I’m a fan of things I can flatten and tuck into a cabinet or hang vertically. Like this collapsible over-the-sink colander for pasta, fruits and veggies. Image: Swish
A collapsible salad spinner does triple duty as a strainer and a bowl. Image: Crate and Barrel
When you need to free up valuable counter space, a folding dish rack does the trick. Image: Ikea
A set of drinking mason jars (lids included) will be handy when you want a cold beer in the backyard, iced teas and coffees for a picnic and smoothies on the go. Great for hot beverages and storage, too. Image: Wine Enthusiast
Big glass jars are highly versatile around the house. Remove the labels from old jars of soup or spaghetti sauce and use them for storage, shopping and packing lunches. Keep your herbs fresh by placing them in water under a clear produce bag. It’s like seeing a bouquet every time you open the fridge. Image: Rachael Ray
This Ikea grater is labelled for cheese but since I’m vegan, I use it for garlic and ginger. It comes with a fine grater and a coarse grater, and the cute blue container has a lid that can be used separately to store food. Image: Ikea
GET RID OF IT
Consider alternatives that are smaller, cheaper and more planet friendly.
Keurig coffee maker. Forget the single-use plastic pods. It’s just as easy and much kinder to our Earth to brew coffee on the stove with a stainless steel pot or Moka. No K-cups, no filters to dispose of. The coffee is deliciously fresh and worth the extra five minutes.
Tea kettle, which takes up space on the countertop. Boil your water in a sauce pan.
Espresso machine. Save money and time cleaning by using a French press instead.
Kitchen Aid mixer. Unless you bake often, skip the big heavy mixer and get a handheld blender. My trusty immersion blender makes soups, smoothies, juices, sauces, ice cream and more, and comes with a chopper/grinder attachment for nuts.
Rice cooker. The convenience of the automatic settings is appealing, but you can easily make fluffy rice in a pot on the stovetop.
Garlic press. Crush garlic by hand. Or use the grater mentioned above.
Rolling pin. A clean, empty wine bottle works just as well for rolling dough. It also makes a nice vase for flowers.
Paper napkins/serviettes. Instead of tossing napkins after each use, buy a set of washable organic cotton napkins.
Do you have your own tips to share?