1. Trade In Your Microwave
The first thing you learn in culinary school is that microwaves aren't the best. They zap all the flavor away with promises of speed and convenience. Plus they're bulky space eaters. Instead, try a convection toaster oven, which is about the same size. It can do things your microwave is scared of: toast, bake, and broil. Plus, all that circulating air means it's faster than a conventional oven.
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Swap Out Your Small Appliances For An Immersion Blender
An immersion blender is the best kind of small appliance; it can transform itself to fit seamlessly into any number of roles. It can whip your cream. It can chop your nuts. It can mix your smoothie. It can mash your potatoes. It can stir your sauce. And it can fit almost anywhere.
3. Buy An Over-the-Sink Cutting Board
Remember: the countertop is precious. Get a cutting board that floats over the sink to maximize your space. Use those valuable square inches of Formica you saved to service other stuff, like platters and punch bowls.
4. Go Vertical
It all fits better when it's upright; the sky is wasted space. They make vertical everything, from spice racks to potholders. Mount them on that spot on the wall where you used to hang your calendar. For even more space, install them on the insides of your cabinet doors.
5. Pare Down Your Cutlery
You only need two knives. A good chef's knife is key, and a small paring knife is essential, but you can do without the serrated 18-inch carving knife. Instead, get a good pair of kitchen shears, which work great for everything from breaking down a chicken to cutting leafy greens.
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6. Get On The Grid
A griddle pan fits over a burner and gives you more space than a skillet. There's also the easy access, which makes it great for cooking stuff that requires a lot of moving around, like hash browns.
7. Clean As You Go
A sink is usable space. A sink with a pile of dishes in it is not. Don't let things build up: when you use something, wash it and put it away.
8. Steer Clear of Those Big Cookware Set
You really don't need that 12-piece set of copper pots. Get good quality, but buy less. Cast iron makes everything taste better, and it's virtually indestructible. Get a skillet, a heavy-bottomed stock pot, and a small sauce pot; anything else is a luxury. If you do have an empty corner somewhere, consider getting a small wok: they're amazingly versatile.
From left to right: Calphalon sauce pot, stock pot, Le Creuset cast iron fry pan.