No Kitchen is too Small to Cook Healthy Meals at Home

By Darren Stehle

My kitchen counter area

It’s not pretty, but this is where the magic happens!

Welcome to my kitchen!

It’s not perfect, it’s not pretty, and it’s not my ideal dream kitchen, but it’s incredibly functional and I can do anything in it.

I made a short video to tell you all about my kitchen. I also explain why you shouldn’t use the excuse of having a small kitchen not to cook healthy meals at home.

Some of the issues I face in my kitchen are not having enough room to set up lighting, and limited shooting angles for taking pictures and making video.

I can make do with the space I have for taking pictures of meal preparation for my recipes. However, there’s not enough room in the kitchen for me to make a video that shows not only what I’m doing, but to get my face in the frame. But that’s my only limitation – the small size of my kitchen doesn’t affect my ability to cook well.

As long as you have a place to put your cutting board to do your meal preparation, and a place to wash your hands and dishes, you’re fine.

It would be awesome if I had a huge kitchen with a double sink, an island-counter with a deep sink and a faucet handle, and a combination gas stove/grill/convection oven. I’d be able to make awesome videos for you to watch and it would be easier for me to record them. But that’s just an excuse.

The size of your kitchen doesn’t matter. It’s how you prepare yourself in advance to make your meal, or to cook in bulk. This is something that I talk at length about, and detail as an easy-to-follow method in my book, Cook a Week of Meals in 4 Hours.

Coming back to reality, I have a small kitchen and I love it. Everything I need is easy to reach and get access to.

For example, when I’m preparing a recipe at the counter (which is about 2’ wide by 3’ tall), I have my ingredients just above my cutting board, or on the counter on the other side of the sink. Up to my left, above the stove, are all my spices, oils, and vinegars. The fridge is but a step and turn to my right.

If I’m cooking something on top of the stove I can pay attention to it while I’m chopping and preparing another recipe. Small and functional is definitely better than a kitchen that’s too big, in which you’d have to move around a lot.

My space is limited, but I can even get my partner (if I ask nicely) to help me out in the kitchen (he’s a really hot sous chef!).

One of our favourite meals is to make a huge dinner salad together. I’ll chop up a head of Romain lettuce, and he’ll wash and spin it in the sink. I’ll sneak some vegetables in there to wash, and start cutting more of the ingredients. He’ll work on the other counter to grate carrots, an apple, and maybe some cheese. We’ll put everything in a huge mixing bowl and I’ll add spices, salt, pepper, oil, lemon, Balsamic vinegar, etc. to create a salad dressing. While I’m tossing the salad, he’s opening up a couple of cans of tuna or salmon. He’ll finish up the dishes while I’m putting the completed salad into serving bowls.

The smallest kitchen I ever had was in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment I shared with my first boyfriend, while at Carleton University in Ottawa. I had the tiniest counter space to put down my cutting board – it was less than two feet wide and smack up against the side of the fridge. This meant I needed to work at a bit of an angle to avoid hitting my elbow on the side of the fridge. The remaining counter space was used for the usual appliances like a blender, microwave, and coffee maker.

I would put the appliances on the dining room table when I needed more space (like when I would make bread from scratch). Or I would cover the table with a cloth and do preparation there. I worked with what I had and I still cooked my meals in bulk for the week as a university student.

Remember, you can cook in any sized kitchen. Don’t use the size of your kitchen as an excuse for not cooking healthy, cooking well, or not cooking meals in bulk.

You only need learn how to adapt to the space you have. Practice cooking in bulk a few times and you will create your own patterns of movement and meal preparation sequencing. I wouldn’t be surprised if you come to prefer working in a smaller kitchen!

Eat well to be well!

Darren