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Nov 25, 2012 07:44 AM

Recipe ideas for kitchenette

I would LOVE some help on this. I don't usually post on forums, but I look at them, and definitely need advice.

I am living in a studio in one of the nicest areas in Manhattan. The downside (and why it is affordable) is that my apartment doesn't have a real kitchen (and the bathroom hardly qualifies either). I have a stovetop, an oven that is broken (I have been waiting 10 months and tried several cleaners--the stovetop/oven is weirdly constantly hot, the entire oven smokes whenever it is turned on). Both the oven and stovetop are half normal size. The fridge is a mini without a freezer. I have no microwave or toaster oven (I have a half-size sink and about 1.5x1.5 feet of counter space). There is also no storage space to keep a microwave, or really many ingredeints (I have 3 small shelves).

HELP!! I am spending all my money on buying food out. I live alone and have no real way of reheating anything, other than to sautee it and then spend forever washing the dishes (I have nowhere to dry anything--bought a small tray I put over the stove, then clean the stove a lot) -- the tininess of the sink really necessitates not using many dishes, because I cannot fit any pots or pans inside of it.

I cannot eat soy, but I am ovo-lacto vegetarian.


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  1. I had a cheap apartment in San Francisco for the exact same reason - though I did have a real fridge and a microwave. There was no stove or oven at all, and what I did was create a space out of a metro-shelving unit and a baker's rack. The baker's rack gave me counter space, essentially. I kept appliances on the shelving unit and just moved them over to the baker's rack as necessary. I also kept a drying rack on the shelving unit (away from appliances.) I had a two burner hot plate, a large-ish toaster oven, a George Foreman grill, a crockpot.

    Dishes were, indeed, a pain in the ass, since even a small meal filled the sink and would often leave me feeling overwhelmed with mess, but just had to wash and dry as I cooked.

    I would give up on that mini counter space, if I was you, and just use that as a drying area and storage.

    Edited to add - I know you asked for recipes, but I wanted to share my experience of being able to cook in a tiny studio without a kitchen!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Violatp

      thanks, i appreciate the advice. unfortunately, i have no room for anything like a baker's rack, or i definitely would have been all over that.

      i have no room for a microwave, toaster oven, foreman grill, and definitely not for a crockpot. if i give up my mini-counter space, i won't have a single spot to prepare food/cut things/etc.

      i wish i could show a picture of how ridiculous it is. i am glad it worked for you, though.

    2. Okay, let me put this another way. What would you like to be able to cook/eat? I mean, I've cut up vegetables with a large cutting board on my lap! That way, I can help figure out how to get there!

      Can you keep provisions in anything other than those shelves? Maybe a plastic storage crate with a lid if you can't keep stuff on the floor?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Violatp

        I have eked out about 2 small plastic bins. Other than that, nothin, since I only have 1 small closet for all of the things I own (haha) plus my partner is here a lot of the time, and I have a dog!

        What i would like to cook is -- things that are good for one or two people and won't leave tons of leftovers I can't eat around, and that can be eaten cold/room temp the next day. that are easy, take no fancy stuff (since I don't have room to store all the spices and oils and flour and etc I'd like) and won't leave things uneaten (like most of that huge bag of spinach) to rot. i hate that! and that take very little space. and use only a little counter space and a stove-top. it's a little tough at least for me.

        usually, when i make something tolerable, either the leftovers can't be reheated, or they may be able to be eaten cold, but i'm left with tons of things going to waste.

        i have an idea of a store where things are sold in tiny, one-person proportions in nyc. i think it could be a hit

        1. re: sc2501

          Hmm. Okay. Well, one thing I'm picturing is a sort-of ratatouille. Do you have a large saute pan? 12 inch? Garlic, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes... whatever looks good at the market, really. It all needs chopping, but that cutting board in lap I mentioned earlier can work quite well when needed! You can make a couple quarts worth in one pan and that stores easily in two or three containers in a little fridge. I've done this before and eaten off it for a few days. Mixed in with an egg or two (buy eggs by the half dozen only!) or rolled up in a tortilla or topping a bit of pasta. Make a couple days worth of pasta at once to store in the fridge (tossed with a little oil) and heat up in a pan with some of the sorta-ratatouille.

          I'd probably leave some hard boiled eggs in the fridge all the time. A little jar of mayo and you can make yourself a quick egg salad.

          That big bag of spinach could become cream of spinach soup if you cooked it in a container of veggie broth, then whirred up with some cream (in the same pot) with an immersion blender.

          Grilled cheese sandwiches?

      2. I'd recommend easy pasta dishes, especially ones that would be good at room temperature (which luckily for you, is easy when you're eating vegetarian). You can make exactly the portion of pasta you want. You can throw veggies into the same pot to cook (broccoli, spinach, peas, etc), saving precious pan space. I even have a crappy small pot that I use all the time that has a strainer built into the lid (kind of like this:, so it's a one pot job. You can then toss with olive oil, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, nuts...whatever you'd like and have on hand. This would also work with rice and couscous. Asian variations also work well (peanut noodles, sesame noodles).

        I don't live in Manhattan, but I know the Whole Foods around me have great bulk sections--for spices, grains, beans, nuts, etc. They also tend to sell individual veggies by the pound, so you don't have to buy a whole bunch (particularly useful for celery).

        1 Reply
        1. re: tazia

          Also little known about whole foods is that they will sell you veggie parts - so if you don't need a whole celery for example they will gladly give you part and use the rest for their salad bar or prepared items. Don't need that whole loaf of bread? they will give you half and only charge you the half price.

        2. Two items to consider:
          1. A Chinese stainless steel steamer (you can get them cheap in Chinatown). There is a large pot on the bottom and two very sizeable steaming racks that fit above. With some tin foil and your steamer pots you can make virtually anything you want without having an oven. Just wrap it all up in the in foil with some oil/butter/whatever and spices and steam your packages away.

          2. An electric pressure cooker/slow cooker/rice cooker. I have an InstaPot. You can use it anywhere in your apartment where you have an outlet.

          Good luck!

          1. Dude, this seems really tough but totally workable. I suggest making salads... throw on canned beans (or frozen edamame), lots of veggies and buy some tasty dressings. I'd actually suggest getting a blender or food processor because I think it would be useful, even if it takes up space. I also think the idea of a rice cooker is great - you can cook other grains in it, too. If not, look into bulgur or couscous. For both of those, you can just add boiling water, cover for a few minutes (ie 5 minutes for couscous and a bit longer for fine grain bulgur) - easy, peasy. Do you have any tables? You could cut your veggies on your desk, etc. Have you ever thought about drying your stuff in the oven?

            Anyways, just some random ideas.