Cozy. Petite. Volume-challenged. However you like to describe your small kitchen, the fact remains that a lack of space is sometimes, well, challenging. But don’t fret! There’s no reason a tiny kitchen can’t also be a powerhouse of culinary innovation. With just a few changes to your workflow and organizational methods, you could turn the smallest of kitchens into the mightiest. And since Esurance is all about embracing innovation, here are 7 ways to get the most out of your small cooking space.

1. Declutter your kitchen

There’s a whole world of fancy kitchen gadgets out there, but only a handful of them are absolutely essential. Any big item that only has one function can easily be nixed. This includes things like ice-cream makers, bread machines, or any other gizmos you ordered off the TV at 3 a.m.

2. Transform your storage space

When cabinet space is limited, the wall becomes your best friend. A few simple additions can open up a veritable Pandora’s box of new storage space. Wall-mounted magnetic strips keep your cutlery off the counter and eliminate the bulky knife block. A pot rack takes your cookware out of the cabinets and puts them right at arm’s reach. You can even install magnetic strips and hanging units on the insides of your cabinet doors.

3. Magically create more counter space

Every inch of your counter is valuable real estate in a small kitchen, so making the most of it’s the first step. But sometimes, even the tidiest of cooks need a little backup. Enter the handy “over the sink” (or “over the stove”) cutting board — the tool that magically turns your sink or stove top into a new surface for cutting and chopping. It’s particularly helpful when you have multiple operations in play (or even a few extra cooks in the kitchen). And when it’s time to use the stove or sink, this modestly-sized cutting board can be discreetly put away.

4. Clean as you go

It might sound elementary, but keeping things tidy is the best way to minimize clutter, confusion, and existential crisis. One trick is to do your cutting and peeling near the trash, compost, or garbage disposal. That way, getting rid of scraps is just a one-swipe maneuver. If you can get away with it, toss all your cut veggies into a single bowl to save space. And if you really want to be a kitchen rock star, you can even clean your knife, cutting board, and any other utensils the minute you’re finished using them and put them back where they usually live. Repeating this last step will help ensure that you’ve got a clean kitchen by the time your meal is cooked.

Check out:  7 Memorable Things to Do on a Snow Day

5. ExPANd your Horizons

One pan, endless possibilities. The cast iron pan is a veritable superhero of cooking tools, able to tolerate whatever types of blazing heat your kitchen contains. Even more awesome is the fact that you can use it to cook an endless variety of complete meals. It’s optimal for searing meats and veggies, simmering your sauces and curries, and even roasting your larger proteins. Throw some potatoes and veggies in there and you’ve got all the components of a complete meal cooking in one place. (And did you know you can also use it to bake a cake?)

6. Just roast it

Okay, let’s say you’ve got bigger fish to fry (or roast, that is). You might want to graduate to the slightly deeper roasting pan. Just like the cast iron skillet, a good stainless steel roaster can be used to cook an entire meal in a relatively small space. Turkeys, chickens, hams, and pot roasts cook beautifully in one of these. Much like its cast iron cousin, it can go from oven to stove top so you can make sauces and gravies right in the same pan. As an added bonus, cooking whole uncut meats ends up saving you money on groceries and producing tons of leftovers.

7. Harness the power of the slow cooker

For anything that you need to cook “low and slow,” the slow cooker is your jam. It’s compact, it’s cost-effective, and amazingly low maintenance. Aside from whatever prep you need to do, all the magic happens in the slow cooker, which means minimal cleanup. But the real beauty is that you can toss in all your ingredients before work and then come home to a hot meal 10 hours later. And sometimes the best solution for cooking in a small kitchen is simply eliminating all the fuss.

It may seem like a daunting task, but at the end of the day, getting the most out of your space is just a matter of making a few smart purchases and using a little strategy.

Once you’ve made the most of your space, find out how to let the kids join in the fun, and keep those pests out (no, we don’t mean the kids!).

DIY hacks

about Chris

Chris has written everything from fiction manuscripts to pretend newsletters about pirates. He's even edited numerous volumes of work written entirely by kids. As a freelance writer at Esurance, he strives to bring out the whimsy and heart of insurance. Outside of Esurance, Chris is an audiophile, visual artist, and explorer of late-night taquerias.