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Cooking Tips For Tiny Spaces

Updated on August 30, 2017

You Don't Need A Lot A Space To Cook Great Meals

I live full-time in a 26 foot RV and my kitchen is very small, but that doesn't mean that I can't still cook great meals and so can you.

I absolutely love to cook, so having a tiny kitchen wasn't going to stop me and it shouldn't stop you either. Whether you live in an RV, a dorm room or a tiny arpartment, here you will find lots of great tips on how to use your tiny space wisely & still cook fantastic meals.

My Toaster Oven
My Toaster Oven

Space Savers

I Love My Toaster Oven

You really don't need a gigantic kitchen to cook great meals, but you do need the right appliances. If you're in a small space like a dorm room that doesn't even have an actual kitchen, choosing the appliances that are most versatile & can do the most things without taking up a lot of room will make all the difference.

Microwave ovens are nice to quickly heat or re-heat foods, but it's hard to cook an entire meal that actually tastes great using only a microwave. Crockpots & slowcookers are also small appliances that you can cook a meal in, but there just isn't a lot of variety in what you can cook in them.

If I was forced to choose between all of my small cooking appliances & could only keep one it would be my toaster oven. I can cook anything in it that I could cook in both the microwave and the Crockpot, plus I can cook foods that don't turn out well in the other two like pizzas & steaks.

Microwave Or Toaster Oven? - Small Appliance Wars

I really wouldn't want to have to live without either one, but for a lot of College kids limited space means they have to choose one or the other.

If You could only have one or the other, which would you choose?

Toaster Ovens - A Small Space Cooking Must Have

Easy Enchiladas
Easy Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a delicious one pan or even one plate meal, that doesn't require a lot of space to prepare. One of the biggest adjustments in learning to cook in a small space is learning to prepare foods one step at a time. When you have a lot of space it's easy to work on multiple food items at the same time. With small spaces and limited counter space, you have to adjust to making one thing at a time, and then putting it all together when you are ready to serve.

Enchiladas are perfect for this. You can cook beef or chicken taco meat and then put it into a storage container in the fridge until you're ready to use it. The same goes for diced onions, shredded cheese & anything else you like in your enchiladas. I usually keep Enchilada ingredients on hand in the refrigerator at all times, because they are so easy to quickly make into a meal for just one, or a group.

All you need for Easy Enchiladas is: Corn tortillas, Enchilada sauce, diced onions & cheese.

I also keep taco meat for when I'm in the mood for a meat enchilada. I keep my enchilada sauce in a storage container large enough to fit the tortillas in, so when I'm ready to make them I can just dip the tortillas in the sauce, fill them with cheese, onions & meat, roll them up, spoon a little sauce on top then sprinkle on more cheese & cook.

Cook Time

Prep Time: About 20 Minutes

Total Time: 2-45 minutes depending on cooking method

Serves: As many as wanted

Ingredients

  • Corn Tortillas
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Cheese
  • Onions
  • Taco Seasoned Meat * Optional

Instructions

  1. Dip the tortillas in the sauce, fill them with cheese, onions & meat, roll them up, spoon a little sauce on top then sprinkle on more cheese & cook.
  2. The beauty of easy enchiladas is that you can quick cook one or two at a time on a plate in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Or you can make a whole pan of them and bake them in your toaster oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Either way, they taste great.
Cast your vote for Easy Enchiladas
My Motorhome
My Motorhome

RV Cooking

Making The Most Of Limited Space

My RV kitchen is pretty small, but a lot more functional than just a hot plate or toaster oven in a dorm room. I actually have a good sized refrigerator and freezer. It's about half the size of the one I had in my house, but much bigger than those tiny mini fridges. I also have a stove with 4 burners & an oven big enough to roast a chicken in or bake a 9x13 inch cake.

I have a full sized microwave built into the wall above my little stove & a double sink. What little counter space I do have holds my toaster oven, so I use my booth type table for most of my prep work. Also, if I do need extra counter space the toaster oven is light weight enough where I can set in on the couch if I need to.

The biggest issue I've found is that when cooking in a tiny space there just isn't any extra room for clutter. I keep my dish strainer in one of the sinks so I can wash each bowl, dish or pan as soon as I'm done using it. I've also become very adept at creating one pan or one bowl meals from recipes that once required lots of dirty dishes to prepare.

The key to cooking in a tiny space is organization.

Could You Live Full-time in an RV?

Are you ready to hit the open road?

See results

Small Space Cooking Tips

1.) Clean up as you cook

2.) Prep in steps

3.) Stay Organized

4.) Learn one dish recipes

5.) Toaster Ovens Rock!

6.) Don't buy in bulk

Cheese Biscuits
Cheese Biscuits

Toaster Oven Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Just like at that famous Seafood restaurant

I love to bake, which is another reason I love my toaster oven, because you just can't bake in a microwave.

Here is my quick & easy one bowl recipe for garlic & cheddar cheese drop biscuits.

This recipe only makes 6-8 biscuits, but you can easily double or triple the recipe for more.

Ingredients in the order I add them to a small mixing bowl.

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk pancake mix ~ the just add water kind

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon sea salt ~ or regular salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the powdered kind in the shaker)

1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Add Milk or water until just moist (about 2-3 Tablespoons)

Batter will be thick & lumpy. Spoon Tablespoon size drops onto a lightly greased toaster oven flat/cookie tray and bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Once biscuits are lightly browned you can brush the tops with melted garlic butter & cook until done.

Isn't This Fun? - What Do You Think Of Our Jenga Lenses So Far?

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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      You have given me some food for thought. I don't think I am cut out for RV life but it was nice to live it vicariously!

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 5 years ago

      I'm starting to get in the mindset now...I plan to be Rving in a couple of years.

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      Glad you got your Purple Star! ;)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I would love to hit the road in my own little home. Our home is however stationary so no options on the open road for me at the moment. Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      Great lens, great topic. No wonder it has a purple star. Angel blessed

    • littlelotus profile image

      littlelotus 6 years ago

      this is great :)....

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 6 years ago

      You're lucky to be traveling all the time.

    • ltraider profile image

      ltraider 6 years ago

      Cool lens. It makes us think. Just gave it a thumbs up

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 6 years ago

      I must single out a chunk or two of time to take a look at all of them (ok, not all at once!). It's a really interesting idea - I like whatever's fun!

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

      This would be a great lens to market to college kids!

      With Love and Gratitude,

      Jeremiah

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 6 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      This is a terrific idea for a lens. My kitchen is on the small side, so I really appreciate these tips.

    • Lady Gotrocks profile image

      Lady Gotrocks 6 years ago

      LOVE them! Blessed

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      After living a few months in a FEMA trailer after Hurricane Katrina, I appreciate having had it but could not live in one for more than a few months.

    • purplelady profile image

      purplelady 6 years ago

      A fantasy of mine has been to do some full-time RVing even if I only did it for a short time. This is a great lens about cooking in the small space of an RV. I have got to try the cheddar biscuits even if I am not in that RV yet. Great tips.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      Great lens. I'll have to make some of those Toaster Oven Cheddar Cheese Biscuits. They look so delicious.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Good lens for those that love to cook but don't have a lot of space. Toaster ovens are a godsend! Lenrolled to my Tips for New Cooks

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is fun and you have really explained some great tips for cooking in a tiny space.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      When you are used to having a full-sized kitchen, it must be difficult to then adjust to a small space, but we women are adaptable and know how to make the best of anything. Great lens! Blessed by an Angel

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am used to a spacious kitchen but in big cities, one needs to manage with small spaces. An useful guide and tips to a small kitchen.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      There are times in our work when we have to stay in serviced apartments and often the kitchen is small so the tips are most welcome. Toaster oven is the way to go in a small kitchen. Love your RV kitchen. It is very organized and compact.

    • auntjennie profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from Canada

      Great lens. My kitchen is supersmall this lens has inspired me to get more organized and look into double or triple duty appliances. Thanks.

    • venitalynn profile image

      venitalynn 6 years ago

      Great lens! I used to live in a 300 sq ft studio with a tiny kitchen. When my boyfriend and I were trying to cook at the same time, it was like performing an interesting dance. While I'm glad to have a bigger kitchen now, we had a lot of good times in our tiny space.

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 6 years ago

      Pretty cool compilation of Jenga lenses - I see a couple I need to go visit as soon as I'm finished blabber-mouthing here.

      I'm in my first full year of RV living - we moved into what I fondly call our "doll-house" last June, and we love it. I cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner in our tiny kitchen - for me the saving grace was commercial aluminum steam table trays from Costco. They are the perfect size for my oven, and they were easy to transport to the kids' house covered in foil. I used them for everything from roasting a turkey breast, to preparing our traditional banana pudding and even fruit salad. Then, I was able to leave them all there (after gathering up some take-home left-overs for us into the clean one I heated the rolls in) with no regrets.

      I wanted to add that having a griddle is more useful to me, personally, than either a toaster oven or a microwave. My family got "stuck" in a cheap motel for 2 weeks once while waiting for our new home to be ready to move into, and I cooked for those two weeks literally in a bathroom, feeding six people 3 nutritious meals each day. The griddle was the key player - you'd be amazed what you can do with aluminum foil and a griddle. I really ought to build a lens about that, ha-ha-ha.

    • profile image

      marsha32 6 years ago

      I'm not real sure what the Jenga lenses are all about, but I enjoyed this lens. I do dream of some day living out of an RV or the like. Right now the kitchen we have in this basement we rent is called a kitchenette, so we have very few cabinets and a small space. No stove, so I have a shelving unit set up which holds our hot plate, microwave, crock pots, toaster over, George Foreman grill and my griddle. It's not the best, but we can cook just about anything we want. My boyfriend bought me one of the larger toaster ovens so it does a lot and can hold to pans if needed.

      Blessed by a Squid Angel and a Merry Christmas to you!

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 6 years ago

      I have a tiny kitchen so I'm loving your cooking tips.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      We've only taken our RV on weekend trips, and luckily the fridge is pretty generous. Your cheese biscuits look yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm contemplating selling my house and buying a small home. Making mental lists of stuff to get rid of all the time. An RV would be too much of a change. I would love to participate in Squidoo Jenga, if not this round maybe they will have another.

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 7 years ago

      What a great set of tips! I always used to make the excuse of not cooking when I lived at home with my parents because the kitchen was so small. Now I know I had no excuse at all! (I'd like to add that I love cooking now lol!)

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 7 years ago from Montana

      On the 4th lens of jenga, mysticmama gave to me...cheddar biscuits in an RV!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      Seasons Greetings and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yes, you certainly can cook great meals in small spaces. I remeber living in digs where I did not have the use of a kitchen and I soon learned how to make one pot meals on a tiny portable oven, with just one hot plate on top.

      Great idea for a len Bambi.

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

      I love this lens! We live in a tiny bungalow with a little galley kitchen and space is at a premium. Putting things away and cleaning as you go helps and I prefer to limit the number of "helpers" when I'm trying to cook. My kitchen is not big enough for the both of us ;)

    • javr profile image

      javr 7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Living in the RV seems hard but interesting.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Love the Jenga idea. Great lens and a perfect one for you to write.

    • wilhb81 lm profile image

      wilhb81 lm 7 years ago

      Oh, I also have a toaster oven in my home! lol It only requires a very small space of the kitchen and I totally love it :)

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 7 years ago

      I love the idea of the jenga lens. I'm so glad Joan put them all together as I was having a hard time going thru the thread.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      My kitchen is very small, but not as small as one in an RV. My hat's off to you for this wonderful resource for small space living.

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 7 years ago

      This is great advice for anyone with a small kitchen. I'm lensrolling it to some of my organizing lenses. Thanks!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      Haven't read any Jenga lenses...but love this one! I need a toaster oven...and will be following your adventures and advice so when I am ready to go the RV route I will feel ready :)

    • profile image

      KDimmick 7 years ago

      They're really great! I hope I get picked at some point :)

    • ReemaSharma1 profile image

      ReemaSharma1 7 years ago

      This is really Nice Lens dear.

      Well, I just wonder since this is Food related lens, you would like to put Save Food Save Life link. Also please check it & give your suggestion to improve it. :)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Way to meet the challenge (Jenga, I mean). Great lens. And timely for me, since I'll soon be moving into a VERY tiny space. Not on wheels, but I'll bet your RV is roomier than this place.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I thought I had a small cooking space, you do an amazing job with the space you have. I may have to re-look at getting a toaster oven. :)

    • profile image

      gods_grace_notes 7 years ago

      This is fun... and the lenses so far are stellar examples of great lensbuilding! It's a great idea, and is helping me remember to participate more in the forum!!!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      This is not only fun, but you lens is fabulous :) I would have never even have thought of a toaster oven and I love the 3 in one that you have featured. I think the "clean as you go" tip is an excellent tip for any kitchen. Most Excellent!!!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 7 years ago

      Man, those cheddar cheese biscuits look good! I've always dreamed about taking a trip across the country, either camping in a tent (which we do fairly often) or in an RV. Not sure I'd want to live in an RV full time, year after year, but spending a summer touring the country in one sounds great!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      I'm sure this lens will be a help to people. It makes me a bit more thankful for the kitchen that I have (and always gripe about!).

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      Wow, my hat is off to you! I'm sure I could adjust if I had to, but I admit I love my big wide-open kitchen!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      I'm ready for the Enchiladas. It would be easy to make Enchiladas in a the tiny space available in an RV. Thanks for the cooking tips.

    • mysticmama lm profile image
      Author

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      @Dianne Loomos: I think it's probably easier for me since I'm only cooking for one, but after feeding a big family for years ~ cooking for just me can be a challenge as well lol :)

    • MagpieNest profile image

      MagpieNest 7 years ago

      You've made me hungry. Those cheese biscuits look so good! I don't have a tiny kitchen but we did manage with just a toaster oven while our extension was built. Great ideas.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      We had an RV for a while and it was a challenge trying to cook for 5 people in it. I don't think I'm as creative as you!

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 7 years ago

      What a great set of tips that work for anyone, even with a big kitchen like I have! Jenga is building!

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Have you tried to make brownies in the a crockpot? That's an unexpected use of it.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      We used to have an RV, but NEVER used its oven. In fact we used ti to store pans, tupperware, and bags. We cooked a lot on a tabletop griddle.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Fabulous lens! I love the tips about enchiladas. Even though I have a nice-sized kitchen, I cook for two most of the time, so I feel confident I could pull off cooking in a small space if I had to. I actually love the idea of an RV, including the challenges. Great job on the challenge, Bambi! Love it!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I voted as a full-time RVer in your poll even though I now live in a house. But for a time in my life I lived in a mobile and I was very comfortable (I was, however, single and childless).

      Great ideas here!

    • jodijoyous profile image

      jodijoyous 7 years ago from New York

      This is fun! As a veteran sailor, and New York apartment dweller with a tiny kitchen (my counter space is the size of a piece of paper), I appreciate the challenges of cooking in a small space. It can be done though!)

    • mysticmama lm profile image
      Author

      Bambi Watson 7 years ago

      @MargoPArrowsmith: If someone who is chosen cannot participate, they can pass & the last plater then chooses again...but if more than 5 people pass the Jenga stack crumbles ~ So I guess we have to try to choose wisely. :)

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image

      ChemKnitsBlog2 7 years ago

      I love them! This is one of the best challenges in the world :)

      Your recipes sound fantastic... even if you aren't in a small kitchen.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing your awesome tips about cooking in a small space!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      This will be fun to watch. Interesting idea. But what happens if you are tagged and not available?

      BTW, my parents traveled the country for several years in an RV, they loved it. Me? Not so much!