Sharing A Tiny Kitchen With Roommates? 6 Ingenious Tips You Can Use Right Now
Ahh, New York City. A place where you can follow your dreams, push your limits—and somehow cook dinner with only three inches of counter space. When big city living means sharing a tiny kitchen with roommates, what in the world can you do?
We spoke with private chef Jumoke Jackson (Follow him on Twitter and Instagram) to get his expert advice on cooking in tight, communal kitchens. “I’ve worked in all kinds of spaces,” said the NYC-based chef, a two-time Kitchen Clash winner who’s appeared on Beat Bobby Flay and Chopped. “If you get creative, you can make any space work.”
Check out Chef Jackson’s six easy kitchen tips below.
Sharing A Tiny Kitchen? 6 Ingenious Tips You Can Use Right Now
1. Save space and time with an immersion blender.
Until you have a full kitchen with four ovens and tons of empty counter space (One sweet day!), hold off on large appliances with limited functions. You can buy a clunky blender, for instance—or you can pick up a sleek and slim immersion blender with multiple attachments. “It’s handheld and easy to put away, as opposed to something like a mixer,” Chef Jackson explained. “It’s a huge space saver that replaces a lot of your usual appliances. I’m surprised more people don’t have it!”
2. Pick up a table-top burner or hot plate.
A cheap table-top burner or hot plate can be a godsend, especially when you’re sharing a small stove with your roommates. According to Chef Jackson, “it can be your extra burner when everyone’s trying to cook something at the same time. You can even move it to another table in the apartment when the kitchen gets cramped.”
3. When it comes to cutting boards, think outside the box.
“I once had to stack a bunch of crates, just to create a surface for my cutting board,” Chef Jackson recalled, laughing. “To make things easier for you and your roommates, get a fold-up table that you can easily put away, or an extension cutting board.”
4. Be picky about your kitchen gadgets.
Nope—you don’t need that special citrus peeler that fits on your finger like a ring. Pretty tools like egg slicers and ergonomically designed kitchen gadgets might look nice on-shelf, but they can quickly clutter up a small, shared kitchen.
“For the home chef, it comes down to some key questions,” Chef Jackson explained. “Do you usually cook for one? Are you a meat-and-potatoes type of person? Do you stick to vegetables?” Once you pinpoint your cooking style, you’ll know exactly what you need for your kitchen—and find tools that actually improve your cooking.
5. Make the mandoline slicer your best friend.
If you’re going to invest in any kitchen gadget, make it the mandoline slicer. Chef Jackson calls it a must-have for anyone sharing a tiny kitchen with roommates. “I rarely see one in people’s homes, but it costs about 10 dollars and shaves down your prep time from 20 minutes to two. It’s one kitchen gadget that’s completely worth it.”
6. Have a battle plan.
Cooking an extravagant five-course meal with your roommates? When there are too many cooks in the kitchen, planning becomes everything. “Writing down and pre-planning your meal will make for a smooth and actually fun kitchen experience,” said Chef Jackson. “Map out where the cooking ‘stations’ are, play to everyone’s strengths, and make sure you all have the same expectations. What needs to go in the potato salad? Who’s cooking the chicken? ”
With just a bit of creative thinking, you and your roommates can say goodbye to your communal kitchen woes. Have fun—and don’t let that tiny kitchen get in your way!