How To Cook in a Tiny House Without Driving Yourself Crazy
Have you ever worried about how to cook in a tiny house? Here's my passionate advice...
STOP FOLLOWING THE RECIPE!!
Do you really need that spice? What do you mean there are six pans involved? TELL ME YOU DON'T HAVE SIX PANS IN YOUR TINY HOUSE.
Whew! OK, sorry, Friends, cooking brings out my passionate side. So do tiny houses, for that matter, and when you combine them, I. GET. SPICY.
Who am I? I'm Alaska, your Tiny House Concierge. And I am so grateful to be back on Tiny House Expedition's epic blog to talk about my two favorite subjects: cooking and tiny houses.
I had two great fears about going tiny. One that I would no longer be able to shop at Costco (I can, no one panic), and two, that cooking would be a nightmare in two hundred and sixty-seven square feet. Rest assured, it's not.
Before I go too deep, I want to give you an overview of my cooking expertise. I was the kid who liked to play baker. I'd mix various ingredients (always flour, sugar, and water) to try and make cookies. They were always terrible because my eight-year-old self thought baking powder was overrated and raw eggs were gross.
As an adult, I wanted to level up my cooking skills, and in fact, I have taken cooking classes in Italy, Turkey, and Greece. But before you get all impressed, you should know that despite my training, I am still the person who lights things on fire and walks away. It's not that I can't cook; it's just that I can't be bothered to watch things cooking. There's a difference.
That being said, I still think I know my way around a tiny kitchen.
So today, I will tell you how to cook in a tiny house without driving yourself crazy. Here is what you need to know.
How To Cook in a Tiny House Tips
1) Don't follow the recipe.
If you're an American, this will be difficult. We want to do things right; we want data and measurements and for an expert to weigh in. And while this serves us in some ways, we can sometimes be a bit culturally out of touch with our passion.
Clearly, I didn't learn how to keep my eye on a burner while studying cooking in Italy, but one thing I did learn was how to break the rules. Italians are passionate cooks. They use what is in season and what they happen to have in the cupboard. They make it work and improvise with a flourish like you wouldn't believe. Don't have oregano? Well, never mind then! And off they go in a new direction.
There is a lot we can learn from the Italian cooking style! In fact, the Italians' flexibility with regard to ingredients is one of the main traits that will serve you when cooking in a tiny house.
How so? Well, because each recipe will call for just one teensy spice, you don't already have, and if you start giving in now, your entire tiny house will be a spice rack in six months. If the paprika and parsley in the recipe are for decorative purposes only, definitely skip them. Substitution is also encouraged!
2) Don't fall for the "this recipe needs six pans" trick.
Have you ever read a recipe that was like, "sauté the garlic in a frying pan and then transfer it to a pot whereupon you add the rest of the ingredients?!" Friends, unless there is a GOOD reason for doing so, cook things in the same pan. If you're just going to add sauteed garlic to an empty pot, why saute the garlic in the pot?
I promise these recipe writers are not doing their dishes by hand in a tiny house. Save yourself the headache and the counter space by economizing with your cookware whenever possible.
3) Beware the kitchen gadgets!
Have you ever had to give up on an avocado because you only had a knife to prepare it and just couldn't figure it out? No one has. Friends, please police your unnecessary kitchen gadgets! In fact, with the power invested in me as a tiny house concierge, I will only allow two types of gadgets: ones you absolutely need and ones you absolutely love.
Personally, I have a chopping knife (need) and a popcorn machine (love). You do you, but unless that weird avocado tool speaks deeply to your soul, it can't come into your tiny house. An overabundance of kitchenware will make tiny cooking harder, not easier, I promise.
4) Make peace with the fact that you will occasionally set food on the stairs.*
Friends, I have set mashed potatoes on the washing machine and steak on the stairs. If this makes you squeamish, you probably shouldn't go tiny. You also probably shouldn't come to my house for dinner.
I'm not saying the cauliflower stays on top of the refrigerator; it's just that I had to put it somewhere while the chicken cools down on the range, and the sink is already taken because that's where I'm mixing salad. If you haven't gone tiny yet, please breathe.
Yes, it's true that tiny cooking can sometimes get a touch chaotic, but honestly, these are moments. By the time you're sitting down to eat, everything will be somewhere normal, and you'll probably have half-cleaned the kitchen in the process.
5) Turn everything into a one-pot (or dish!) meal.
One-pot or one-dish meals are the holy grail. This could get me some hate mail, but if you're one of those people whose foods can't touch each other, maybe don't move into a tiny house!**
Here's the thing. Your menu items probably complement each other to some degree, so unless you're planning on dill pickles and snowcones for dinner, why not put something quinoa-based on the bottom and build your leafy salad on top? Now it's a savory bowl!
Feeling Ready to Cook in a Tiny House?
Alright, Friends, there you have it. Those are my tips! I wish you good fortune in all your tiny cooking adventures! If, like me, you have been blessed with the passion of an Italian chef and the attention span of a chipmunk, please also make sure your fire extinguisher is still on the wall where your builder installed it.
I'll appreciate you joining me on the Tiny House Expedition Blog, and I'll be back soon!
Until then, Bon appétit!
Upon finishing this article, it occurred to Alaska that The Crockpot is the ultimate tiny house kitchen gadget. All the food touches each other, and you cook the meal in the same vessel you use to store it. Alaska is now committed to buying herself a crockpot, and she hopes that tiny housers everywhere will do the same.
*And sometimes the floor. But that was only on the day that I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch in a tiny house, which you can read about here. Also, I wanted to take a picture that demonstrated that 1/267th of the square footage of my home was dedicated to pie. A ratio that still feels right.
**Or at least consider a park model if your carrots really need room to breathe.
Alaska is a writer, realtor, and tiny homeowner living in the great state of Colorado. She is the founder of The Tiny House Concierge, a company that offers consultation and copywriting services for people looking to rethink their housing and rewrite their lives. In addition to her website, she can be found on Instagram and YouTube.
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