The following is a guest post from my good friend Kate, who blogs at Cooking During Stolen Moments. Kate is a stay at home mom to four little ones.
By most standards, our kitchen would be considered small. We are fortunate to have a small pantry and quite a few cabinets though. Our refrigerator/freezer is standard-sized and we do not have a chest freezer. We also do not have storage space for a stockpile. However, after years of cooking, menu planning, monthly grocery shopping and freezer cooking, I have learned how to make the most of minimal kitchen storage space.
I have heard many people say that they could not freezer cook because they do not have a second freezer. I’ve also heard people say they could not grocery shop only once a month because they do not have the space for groceries. I think it can be done no matter the circumstance or available space, if you use a little creativity. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve used.
Make The Most Of Minimal Kitchen Storage Space
Plan properly and only buy what you will really use.
I know there are times when I’ve missed stocking up on a good deal due to a lack of space. Yet there have also been times when I’ve been able to stock-up because my pantry and cabinets are not cluttered with foods we do not need or will not eat.
I use a master menu plan and a master grocery list to plan out the whole month. Experience has taught me just how many cans of tomato sauce or bags of beans we will need in any given month based on our menu plan.
Minimize bulky boxes and sloppy bags.
Whenever possible, I remove boxed items from the box and store them in a plastic bag, or in their packaging bag closed with a clip or twist tie. I also store bagged beans in glass jars to reduce the mess and clutter of so many bags. Although the jars initially seem to take up more room than the bags, the flat surface of the jars make them ideal to store things on top of them.
Not to mention, my pantry stays much neater and more organized this way, making it easier to see what I have on hand and what I need to buy.
Made from scratch food requires a lot less space than prepackaged, convenience foods.
This might seem impossible at first. Scratch cooking requires so many ingredients! But think about this…say you make macaroni and cheese twice a week every month.
What will take up more room on a shelf – 8 boxes of macaroni and cheese or 1 box of pasta, 2 cups of flour, 2 blocks of cheese in the refrigerator, 2 c. of butter and 2 cups of milk? Per serving, the scratch made food will take up less room overall, especially if stretched throughout the month.
Freeze food flat and in plastic freezer bags whenever possible.
I can fit 8 flat freezer bags full of food, one on top of the other, in the same amount of space that I can fit two aluminum foil or plastic containers.
The earth-friendly slogan “Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle” applies equally well to kitchen storage.
Reduce the number of little extras that you buy that take up precious space and are not really needed. Also, if you consistently buy a product only to throw half of it away because it went bad before you could use it all, reduce the size you purchase or the number of times purchased.
Reuse leftovers that are taking up space. Recycle small amounts of leftover into new dishes. Combine a few bottom-of the bag crumbs for a chicken coating. Again, creativity rules and really allows for maximizing of minimal space.
Each one of these small steps add up to a lot of saved space. I know there are lots of tricks I’m missing, and I know people without a pantry probably have systems even better than mine. So, what do you do to maximize the space in your kitchen?
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