Not everyone has the luxury of a palatial kitchen full of stainless-steel appliances and enough counter space to land a cargo plane.

Many people still live in apartments and homes where the kitchen was an afterthought in the design, and the only counter space available is exactly that: a space where there’s a counter.

But just because there’s barely enough room to put your toaster doesn’t mean you can’t have quality meals that don’t involve a drive-thru or microwave.

In fact, as long as you’ve got an oven and some sort of direct heating device (stove top, plug-in griddle or wok), you can whip up a meal that will have you and any guest willing to brave your cramped conditions pleasantly taken aback.

1.) Good ‘Ol Pasta

One of the best ideas for a small kitchen is pasta.   Simple boil your water and add in the noodles.   Thaw some frozen sauce or use a jar (if you must).  Serve with some Romano cheese for some extra zap to the dish!

It really is that simple.

KITCHENWARE COUNT: 1-2 – Pot for water, pot for thawing sauce
UTENSIL COUNT: 1-2 – Spoon for stirring pasta

2.) Stracciatella Soup

Soups are only as difficult as you make them. All those ingredients and preparation for a crystal-clear consommé: leave to the pros.

For you, try a simpler soup, like an Italian Stracciatella.

For Stracciatella, all you need to do is bring four to six cups of chicken broth to a low boil.

While the liquid is coming to temperature, grab a bowl and crack in two or three whole eggs.

Mix the eggs in the bowl, adding about a third- to a half-cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg.

When the liquid comes to a boil, use your whisk to stir it vigorously, until it gets a nice vortex, or whirlpool, going. Hold your bowl of egg mixture above the swirling broth, and slowly drizzle it in.

After about three minutes, your soup is done.

Garnish with more Parmesan, a little extra virgin olive oil, and some cracked pepper, and you’ll be amazed at what’s sitting in your bowl.

KITCHENWARE COUNT: 2   (Pot and mixing bowl)
UTENSIL COUNT: 2 (Whisk and measuring spoons)
STORAGE CONTAINER COUNT: 2-3 – This soup is tasty and freezes well.

3.) Red Beans and Rice

Outside of soaking a pound of kidney beans in a pot overnight (and finding the space to do so), red beans and rice is a home run in any small kitchen.

Drain the beans through a colander, rinse out the pot, and put it where you normally let dishes dry. While it’s drying, chop up some bell pepper, onions, and celery, along with garlic and your favorite sausage (optional).

Take that pot, sauté your veggies (and sausage, if using), and add the beans. Sauté some more, adding your dry spices (bay leaf and what not), then your rice and water, and cover.

Bring all that to a boil, and let simmer for a couple of hours. You can do the rice separately, but that takes up another pot, and we’re trying to be economical here.

KITCHENWARE COUNT: 3 – Pot with lid, Colander, cutting board
UTENSIL COUNT: 2 – Wooden spoon and kitchen knife
STORAGE CONTAINER COUNT: 1-2, Depends on how much you eat.

Now that you’re armed with some know-how, does your small kitchen seem like such a problem? Remember this: no one will care about what your kitchen looks like if the food coming out of it is better than their own!