As you may know, I recently moved apartments, and once again, the kitchen has become a major point of contention for me and my roommates. Since I moved off campus at the end of first year, I’ve never had less than three roommates. I have no problem living with that many people, as long as we don’t ALL have to share the same bathroom, no one throws wild parties and no one gives me crap about my messy bedroom.
My biggest problem though, is kitchen space.
When you have 4 or 5 people living together and each person has a plethora of their own kitchen stuff you know that things are bound to get a little crazy and cramped. Organizing a kitchen that is essentially filled with enough stuff for 5 kitchens is an incredibly daunting task, but it can be done. And since I just did it again last week, I’m resurrecting and updating this post to show you how I managed.
Most of these tips also apply if you’re living on your own in a shoe box where the kitchen doubles as the hallway, as I hope to be one day soon, once I graduate and become a ‘real’ adult.
My $21/lb goji berries are MINE but having 5 bottles of ketchup in the fridge is just a waste of valuable kitchen space. Sit your roommates down, come up with a list of things you’re willing to share and split the cost. It saves money and kitchen space.
Also, just sharing a cupboard for things like pots, Tupperware and cutlery can make a big difference. Instead of trying to give everyone their own shelf, just label your stuff and store it together. It makes no sense for each person to have a half filled drawer for their knives and forks.
2. Food Prep
I buy a lot of fruits and veggies and even though that helps keep my grocery bill low, they pick up a lot of extra fridge and counter space. So, in addition to my regular weekly meal prep, I do a little food prep when packing away groceries. If I buy pre-washed spinach or salad greens in a container, I transfer them to Ziploc bags instead. I chop up some of my veggies so they don’t take up all the room in the crisper. I also put my meats in freezer bags instead of just tossing the entire container into the freezer.
Repackaging food into easier to store containers may take a little extra time, but it’s worth it for the grab and go convenience and the extra kitchen space.
3. Get Matching Tupperware
I’m still working on this one, but I can definitely see the benefits. Matching Tupperware does more than look good; it’s also a lot easier to store. Save yourself the trouble and get dishes that can be stacked. It’s a great way to use up the wasted vertical kitchen space, both when storing containers in cupboards and when using them to store leftovers in the fridge.
4. Limit your dishes
When I first moved into my old apartment, 2 of the shelves in one of the 3 cupboards were already filled because one of my roommates had multiple plate, bowl, glass and mug sets. And don’t even get me started on the cutlery and pots and pans. Not only did we always have a mountain of dishes to do, but those unnecessary dishes took up a lot of kitchen space. Do yourself a favour and keep you dishes to a minimum.
5. Plan and keep Track
The fastest way to run out of kitchen space is to buy more food than you need. These days I try to keep careful count of exactly what I’ve got in my pantry and fridge so I don’t end up with duplicates. Apart from the stuff I buy in bulk, I try to make sure I only buy what I actually need. That way I avoid wasting space and potentially spoiled and wasted food.
6. Clean often
On the topic of wasted food, the first thing I did when I moved into my new place last week was clean the fridge. There was so much expired stuff in there taking up all the room on the shelves. The fridge literally couldn’t hold anything else. Cleaning out your fridge and pantry frequently is a great way find extra kitchen space and make sure all your food is fresh or at least edible. Plus, you end up with a clean kitchen, which is always better than a dirty one.
7. Rethink your appliances
I would love a Vitamix (if I could afford one) and a stand mixer and a juicer. But I have no idea where I would put all of that. As much as having all those appliances would make things easier when cooking, I’d have to trade off a lot of kitchen space to get them. For now, I make do with smaller appliances like a Nutribullet, a hand mixer and my other must have appliances. Yes, some recipes require a little more elbow grease, but I also don’t have an overly cluttered kitchen counter.
My most used kitchen space is the broiler drawer of the oven. In my oven in Trinidad, it was actually used for broiling, but in Canada all of my cookie sheets, muffin tins and other baking pans live there. Another kitchen space saving option is using the walls to hang pots and pans. If you rent, you may want to chat with your landlord before you go crazy drilling holes, but it’s an effective way to clear up cupboard space for things you can’t hang. Don’t be afraid to find creative ways to utilize the little kitchen space you do have.
What about you?
Is your kitchen tiny? Or do you have enough space for all your needs? Is the broiler drawer in your oven actually used for broiling? What tips do you have for making the best of limited kitchen space?
Share in the comments below!
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