In 240sq feet: Real Food the Small Way

Published by emilyatspecklefarm on

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen

A draft of this post has been setting as just a title, an idea, since I started Life From Scratch. Cooking from scratch and preserving food is a daunting task to undertake for the first time under any circumstances. In conversations with people about scratch cooking and food preservation they often say, oh when I have a big kitchen or a bigger house, or this or that kitchen tool, I will start doing that stuff. Or they flat out say they don’t have the space, equipment, time, energy; for any of that. I would like to bring some perspective to those comments and some inspiration to use the space you do have to the fullest.

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen


When AJ was able to get around on his own again (don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the About Us page) we started looking for a place so I could start back at college the following quarter. We had (and still have) a very very limited budget. We almost gave up and rented a room in a house instead. Finding this place was a blessing.  We live in a studio apartment in a boarding stable on a rural 100 acres. It couldn’t have worked out better. We have horses for neighbors, everyone here is some level of animal crazy, we can have our menagerie and no one cares and we have our own space to call home. 

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen
Real food Cooking in a Small KitchenReal food Cooking in a Small Kitchen

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen







The problem is, this apartment does not have a kitchen. No stove. No oven. Don’t even think about a dishwasher. The toilet is in the kitchen and there is just one tiny shallow sink. 

Now maybe you are thinking, wait a minute…you can, bake and pickle and everything?! Do you go somewhere else to do all that? No, my friends. When we moved in here I did some research and we bought this convection toaster oven and a hot plate. I do all my baking in the toaster oven and use my hot plate just like a (very slow-to-heat) stove top. We also have crock pots, a bread maker, an Aroma rice cooker, and a small barbeque that augment our cooking abilities. I use the bread maker just for making dough on a rare occasion and the barbeque is a new addition that I haven’t got to use much yet. 
Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen


Our apartment is 240sq feet, including everything and rounding up; I think the pictures make it look bigger than it really is. Figuring out how to fit a functional household worth of “stuff” for two people and their critters in here has been a sharp learning curve. We figured out pretty fast that wall space is valuable real-estate. We hang most of our numerous jackets and a lot of my pans and kitchen utensils. Shelves, closets and cupboards have to be organized by what we use the most and least, with the things we use least the hardest to get to. We do also have a cubby in the hayloft along the edge of the apartment where we store our canning stuff, storage crops and animal equipment. Our fridge(s) live just outside the door since there is nowhere inside for it to go. 

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen


Living in a tiny space creates some unavoidable frustrations. The floor is only clean right after it’s been swept and mopped. If you want any space to work in the kitchen (or need to get into the freezer) the dishes have to be washed and put away before the next food preparation happens. Sometimes, some things just don’t have anywhere to be but on the floor.  

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen


Living here has made me come a little more to terms with the fact that perfection is not attainable. In fact, sometimes in striving for perfect we end up strangling our ability to do any better than we already are. If you find yourself throwing your hands in the air and thinking; why bother! Check yourself. That is your perfectionism strangling any chance you have to improve the situation.

Real food Cooking in a Small KitchenReal food Cooking in a Small Kitchen


 Moving in here I was worried. I didn’t know how I was going to make it work and I found myself fantasizing about asking friends if I could do big cooking and canning projects at their house. I realized I was crippling my ability to innovate; to make the best out of what we did have. 

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen

Necessity is the mother of invention. Before any innovating can happen you have to decide that it can be done; that you will figure out a way to make it work. Don’t stop to ask if it’s been done. If you do, you will get waylaid by the naysayers and never get the chance to find a way to make it work

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen


 I really don’t want anyone to see my tiny cramped home. However, if sharing some less than pretty photos can make someone realize how good they have it and inspire them to make the best of what they do have then I can grin and bare a little shame. I will be so glad when we are in a real house again with a real kitchen.  I’m just not going to let my desire for a nice, fully equipped kitchen prevent me from making and eating the good, homemade, soul and body feeding food that we all deserve.

Below are some more random photos of where and how we keep some of our things. Hopefully they’re inspiring not terrifying. As always, I love to hear from you in the comments!
Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen
Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen (counter and cupboards)

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen (drawers)

Real food Cooking in a Small Kitchen (drawers)Real Food Cooking in a Small kitchen (cupboards) 
This post is participating in the Homestead Barn hop, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesdays, HomeAcre, From The Farm and Healthy Tuesdays blog hops, check them out to find other great blogs like ours!


I hope you found information and inspiration, come back soon!
Kindest regards,
Categories: Uncategorized


Train That Dog · November 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Wow! Yes, this is very inspiring! I have been feeling very worried about the space I have for just my things and not having to worry about kitchen, etc. since I am only needing to worry about a room! And when all of my things are here then the room I will have is pretty large! I don’t know the exact square footage, but I don’t think it is small enough to be impossible after reading this post! I knew your place was very small but I hadn’t even thought about it before!

    Emily Swezey · November 11, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Moving into a smaller space is always a source of worry. I’m glad you feel better about your little room now that you know about our little house 🙂

Amanda · November 11, 2013 at 6:42 pm

My kitchen is small-ish (about 7 by 9) but nowhere near as small as yours! I’m glad you don’t let it stand in your way 🙂

    Emily Swezey · November 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    No, I sure didn’t! Glad you commented, stop by again soon.

Joy@aVintageGreen · November 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I remember when my kitchen area was a sink and 2 burner stove top – built in a small closet of an old house (no closet for clothes) that had been divided into ‘suites’. Fond memories, we were at University and stews and other one pot meals were our norm. Very glad I found your blog from Mostly Homemade Mondays.Joy

    Emily Swezey · November 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I loved that you shared your small kitchen memories. I hope you visit again soon!

Heidi · November 11, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Good for you!

Jessy · November 12, 2013 at 12:23 am

I have a really awesome idea for you: a turkey fryer! We use ours to can and cook all sorts of things….and to process chickens! The propane tank lasts forever and its less messy because its outside.

    Emily Swezey · November 12, 2013 at 12:31 am

    hmmm, I’m going to have to look into that!? Thanks for the idea, please visit again soon!

meNmykids · November 12, 2013 at 1:09 am

I remember the creativity it required when we lived in a 500 sq ft house with 4 kids. Lots of memories there. It is a good thing that you have the whole farm to keep you from getting cabin fever. My problem now isn’t space, more of a time thing. With good planning almost anything (space/time) can be worked through.

    Emily Swezey · November 12, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Living in a small space would be way harder with kids! A little creativity and a lot of determination and anything is possible!

Jazmin Rode · November 13, 2013 at 3:52 am

I love the fact that you took a not-so-perfect situation and still managed to make the most of your tiny kitchen. It’s tiny but wonderful!

    Emily Swezey · November 13, 2013 at 5:11 am

    Thank you Jazmine! I think I’ve done pretty good with what I have, please do visit again!

Roxie700 · November 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I grew up in a tiny mobile home. It was really a travel trailer. We had 6 people and 1 dog in a 8X30 ft mobile home. We were snug to say the least. We ate out side on a picnic table a lot. Lucky for us we lived in Texas where the weather is nice most of the time.I admire how you are making the best of your situation. Your home looks snug and happy.

    Emily Swezey · November 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I know more than a few people who have lived in small spaces and I have even more respect for them now than before. Thanks for visiting and please come again!

collycay · November 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm

my partner and I moved into a section of a pole barn (1/3-house, 1/3-shop, 1/3-barn) 5 years ago. we, also, did not have a kitchen. like you, I used a hot plate, convention oven, and my favorite item was a electric skillet. we have a 25 acre organic farm, with chickens, bees, cats and a dog. I make most everything from scratch, ‘put up’ for off season, and make cheese and bake for us and for our market. last winter we were blessed to get a real summer kitchen built in to part of the shop and for the first time I had a stove/oven, work space and a washer and dryer. hang in there–it can be done!! and when you do get your real kitchen, you will so much appreciate it.

    Emily Swezey · November 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I think if this was our space and not rented it would be much better! I look forward to when I have a real kitchen again, I’m sure you are enjoying yours as much as I will mine. Thanks for visiting and commenting, please stop by again!

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow · November 18, 2013 at 11:54 am

You are amazing! 🙂 You are also the first person that has made me feel that my tiny galley kitchen is pretty big in comparison : )

    Emily Swezey · November 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Aww! Thank you! Now maybe you will be a little more adventurous with your cooking projects 😉 Thanks for commenting and please come again soon!

Alison P. · November 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Okay, mission accomplished. I will stop complaining about how small my house is and appreciate what I have. I go through phases but we have a kid and he seems to take up twice as much room as my husband and I do. We need to go through and get rid of a bunch of stuff in order to make room for all of his stuff 🙂 You have done a great job fitting everything in to such a small space. I hope that you make the best of all of the space that you have and you will probably look back fondly on the time in the little home later 🙂

    Emily Swezey · November 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Its hard to live in a small space, no question about it. Add in a kid and I bet it’s really challenging. Pairing down your stuff will make a big difference, it sounds like you are on the right tract! I’m sure we will look back on this place with fond memories but I sure won’t miss living in such a small place. Thanks for visiting and please come again soon!

Summers Acres · November 19, 2013 at 2:47 am

I will try to never complain about our tiny kitchen ever again! Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Harvest Hop!Please join us again Thursday for our special edition The Thankful HomeAcre Hop at:

    Emily Swezey · November 19, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks for visiting, I will see you at the hop!

Anonymous · November 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I bet if you could add some shelving above the doorway, toilet, and where the pans are you could increase your storage space a ton. Triangle brackets and boards would be inexpensive, sturdy, wouldn’t be permanent(rental), and could really impact your storage space. I have a fairly small kitchen and adding extra shelving in bare areas has helped me.

    Emily Swezey · November 21, 2013 at 2:11 am

    When we moved in shelved were the plan, alas, life happened. It would be very nice to have them but I think it’s unlikely to get accomplished ( I KNOW any shelf I put up will fall down and hubby is impossibly hard to get to do any sort of carpentry) anytime in the near future. I am trying to figure something out to put over the toilet that I can put up on my own and have it be safe, it will always be a work in progress. Thanks for visiting, and please stop by again!

Anonymous · November 25, 2013 at 3:36 am

I can’t tell from the picture, but if you built a platform for your bed, it would buy you some badly needed storage space. You could get some big, flattish containers and store pillows, blankets, etc. I lived in a 400 sq foot place (a mansion compared to 240 ft!) and used by underbed area for extra food and clothes too. It’s inspirational to see what you can create in your tiny kitchen space!

    Emily Swezey · November 25, 2013 at 6:08 am

    The “plan” as with the shelves, was to build a platform for the bed. Neither thing has happened yet , it will always be a work in progress. Thanks for commenting and please stop by again soon!

Anonymous · February 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I love the old song, a lady used to sing at our church as a special.I ‘ve got food on my table and shoes on my feet!I think of that often when I am temped to complain about what I don’t have, truly we are both blessed! love and hugs, thanks for sharing

    Emily Swezey · March 1, 2014 at 4:55 am

    So true, I always think of that saying about how there is someone praying for what you are complaining about, it sure puts things in perspective. Thanks for stopping by, please come again!

Taura · March 23, 2014 at 4:12 am

I love it. I want to just keep reading. We are starting fresh, in a small town, as a young family of four, with a 600 sqft house on a 50 x 100 ft lot. The garden plans are there – spring is on its way (Canada … eventually …) I am so excited! And I have ADHD & SAD. UGH. 🙂

    Emily Swezey · March 23, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Ah, yes! I can totally relate, D3 supplements, cod liver oil, good grass fed/pastured animal products and mushrooms might help with the SAD. Make the most of the what you have, trellis everything you can, go up if you can’t go out!

S. Sabriena · August 28, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

That is “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest. When I read your post, this poem is what came to my mind. You guys are amazing! This was a very inspirational post.

Astrid · September 17, 2016 at 6:20 pm

You are still luckier than some. I live in a 240ft kitchenless space as well but you have a kitchen sink! The cooking and storing becomes pretty easy once you get used to it but you ALWAYS miss having a sink in the kitchen. I get to do my dishes in the small bathroom sink I have- occasionally in the bathtub for larger items (a 10″ pan is too big to wash in my sink).

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