Cooking in a small kitchen can be a challenge — however, you can save a lot of space and streamline the cooking process by choosing multi-purpose kitchen appliances and utensils. One of the main reasons why storage space in our kitchen cabinets and our countertops never seems to be enough is we often feel compelled to purchase new and shiny appliances and utensils that we end up hardly ever using.
The rule of thumb, when it comes to organizing a small kitchen, is to never buy utensils that do just one thing. You probably don’t need that avocado slicer or a strawberry stem remover — all you need to do those operations is a knife, or your hands, as removing stems from strawberries is not exactly a complicated task. Also, stay away from devices such as egg cookers or cupcake makers. These types of single use items take up a lot of precious space in your cabinets or on your counter and are really not that useful.
Instead, you should fit your kitchen with practical and multi-purpose tools that save you space and make cooking a healthy meal a breeze. Here are the top ten multi-purpose kitchen appliances and utensils that will turn even a small kitchen into a chef’s kitchen:
1. A multicooker
Multicookers are compact devices that pack a lot of cooking prowess. Most of them have functions such as pressure cooking, steaming, slow cooking, sautéing and so on. You can use them to cook a huge variety of dishes, including soups, stews, meat-based dishes or even desserts. The multicookers are also programmable, helping you to have your meal ready at a specific time or to keep it warm. It’s a very useful appliance for people who work long hours and have little time for cooking, and it’s also a great option for those who have limited access to a standard stove and oven.
2. An immersion blender with accessories
An immersion blender with the full set of accessories can replace multiple appliances in your kitchen. Getting one that has a whisk and a chopper allows you to forego a vertical blender, a stand mixer, and a food processor. There are models that, beside the chopper functionality, also have slicing and grating attachments, so you end up with all the functions of a few large appliances in a small and compact one that you can easily keep on your counter at all times.
3. A set of nesting mixing bowls
Forget all the mismatched bowls forming unstable towers in your kitchen cabinets. Storage space in a small kitchen is too important to be wasted this way. Instead, purchase a set of nesting mixing bowls that take up very little space and offer you just the right bowl size you need for everything, from whipping up a cake to dressing your salad. Buy glass or stainless-steel bowls — they are easier to clean and don’t stain like the plastic ones. Also, they look pretty enough to be employed as a serving dish for salads and other foods.
4. A couple of good quality oven pans
Pans are particularly difficult to store as they are quite large and usually do not fit properly inside kitchen cabinets. The good news is that you can save yourself all that trouble because you don’t really need more than a couple of oven pans. Get a large square or rectangular pan and make sure it’s deep and sturdy enough to allow you to cook different types of foods, from baking cakes to roasting meats. A rack that fits inside the pan helps with roasting, and, when baking, make sure you use parchment paper to protect the pan.
Beside the large pan, you should also get a round one for pies, birthday cakes, tarts and so on as opposed to all sorts of novelty pans with various shapes and sizes that take up space. If you really want to bake cupcakes, or a bundt cake, for example, there’s no need to buy special pans — you can simply get silicon molds you can fit in your existing pan. These silicone molds are inexpensive, durable, reusable and easy to store.
5. A micro plane
This small but mighty kitchen tool is an absolute must have. You can use it for hard cheese, for spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon sticks, for grating chocolate to decorate a cake and more. Basically, anything that requires fine grating can be done with a micro plane. Get a stainless steel one — it lasts longer, and stainless steel is very good when it comes to repelling smells. You’ll be able to grate cheese or even garlic for your pasta dish, quickly wash it and use it to top your ice cream with some chocolate flakes.
6. Panini press/electric grill combo
A good quality panini press does more than sandwiches — you can use it to grill veggies or meats, whipping up an entire dinner or lunch in no time and with minimal effort. You can toast your bread in it, thus saving you from buying and keeping a toaster around. It’s also great for heating up cold pizza — it keeps it crispy and delicious, unlike the microwave.
7. A set of knives and a magnetic knife holder
The first advice any professional cook will give you is to get a proper set of knives for your kitchen — you don’t need a lot of knives, just a good quality set. A classic chef’s knife is suitable for most of the cutting operations in a kitchen such as the slicing and dicing of vegetables, meats, and fruits. If you want to splurge on a premium quality kitchen tool, the chef’s knife is the top contender, as you’ll be using it a lot. Beside the chef’s knife, you also need a paring knife and a serrated one.
The paring knife is useful for peeling and mincing veggies and fruits that are too small for the chef’s knife: garlic, strawberries, avocado, kiwis and so on. The serrated knife is mainly used for slicing bread and similar items, like cakes, but also for foods with a waxy surface, like tomatoes or peppers.
There’s little need to purchase more knives if you have these three basic ones. However, you could install a magnetic strip on your backsplash and place your knives on it — you’ll have them always on hand, and this will save space in your drawers.
8. A large and sturdy carbon steel stir fry pan
You don’t really need multiple non-stick pans in your kitchen — they also take a lot of space when it comes to storing and are all basically doing the same job. The best strategy is to get a sturdy, large stir fry pan made of carbon steel, which is naturally non-stick and a lot lighter than cast iron. Also, compared to Teflon pans, carbon steel pans last longer, you don’t have to worry about scratching them, and, more importantly, you don’t stress about the Teflon coating ending up in your food.
Get a stir fry pan with a bottom diameter large enough to allow you to make pancakes or to deep fry foods, should you want to, but also deep enough for comfortably stir-frying veggies, meats, or cooking fried rice dishes. This versatile and multi-purpose cooking utensil can successfully replace all other pans in your kitchen.
9. A Dutch oven
Dutch ovens are sturdy, almost indestructible items, and you can use them in many different ways. They’re perfect for searing meats, as cast iron gets really hot, you can prepare stews and soups in it on your stove top or you can stick it in the oven for recipes that require oven cooking. They’re also suitable for baking bread, sponge cakes, cornbread and more.
10. A nice dinnerware set
Most of us keep more than one set of dinnerware at home — the good one for when we have company over, and the mismatched collection of plates and bowls we use for everyday needs. However, you’re better off owning just one set, nice enough for company and practical enough to be used on daily basis. Not only will you be saving a lot of space in your cabinets, but you’ll be enjoying mealtime more if you use a nice set of dinnerware.
Still not enough space in your kitchen?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there simply isn’t enough space in your kitchen for all your stuff. Maybe you temporarily relocated to a smaller home and your new kitchen can’t contain all your appliances and utensils. Still, you don’t want to get rid of them as you might need them again in the near future. Or, maybe, you’re a passionate cook that loves preparing huge meals for family and friends on special occasions, but you don’t have the space to keep all that cooking equipment in your kitchen. For such situations, one solution is renting self storage. A 5×5 storage unit can hold several boxes of cooking gear and small kitchen appliances. However, if you’re planning to store large appliances, such as a fridge, a freezer or a stove, you will most likely need a 5×10 storage unit.
Do you have a favorite cooking tool you simply can’t do without? Let us know in the comments!