Well, January is officially over, and we’re excited to be waving goodbye as it disappears in the rearview mirror of our lives. Not that we have anything against January… it was a pretty good month for us, despite two snowstorms, a Polar Vortex and temps below freezing for most of the month. Lately we’ve had one thing on our mind – SPRING – and with January over; we are one month closer to warmer weather and living the good life again.

Our big accomplishment for January was completing the intense Whole30 plan we began as part of our New Year’s Resolution to live a healthier life. During this time we cut dairy, grain, sugar, alcohol, and all processed foods from our diet. Aggressive, right? While it may sound like a prison sentence to some, we actually enjoyed it and discovered some really delicious food in the process. I’ll admit the first two weeks were a struggle while were trying to figure out what to eat and were mourning the loss of our beloved sugars and grains. SOME OF US (wink, wink) only made it to day 22, but hopped right back on the wagon the next day to finish strong. In the end, it really redefined our relationship with food, to the point that we actually want to keep eating this way. The way we see it, the food that you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. We decided to choose more healthy.

Because most restaurant and convenience foods were off limits during our Whole30, I was faced with only one option: to learn to make the most of my galley and learn quickly! Until then, we were eating out about a third of our meals, and they only thing I had attempted to make at the boat was something you could make in a pot or pan since the oven scared me. Faced with no alternative, I had to embrace it and learn to make the most of it if we were going to have a successful January.

And I did.

I learned along the way some essential pieces of equipment that I needed in order to be successful in the galley, which I promise you, is much different than a kitchen.

First, storage is extremely limited, so I needed to be very creative with storage solutions for both food and non-food items. I have about as much space TOTAL as I had in a mere two upper cabinets in my kitchen on land. Keep in mind that his is for everything- food (non-perishable), dishes, cookware, gadgets, utensils, etc. Turns out removing that center console to open up the room for the dogs meant seriously cutting back on my storage capability. Oh well.

Second, I have an anemic oven that takes twice as long to cook anything. If the recipe calls for a cook time of 20 minutes, mine is in there for at least 40. Those 20 minutes don’t seem like a lot, but it’s annoying when you come home from work hungry and can’t eat until 7pm. I’ve begun having a lunner – a lunch/dinner snack around 4pm – that will hold me over during those tough times. Not sure why it takes so long because it’s only about 16? wide, maybe less. I have affectionately renamed it the ‘Easy Bake’.

Third, I have roughly 4’ of counter space in which to work. Things can get hectic very quickly. I’m a self-admitted Type A personality who loves organization and I get frustrated very quickly when things get out of control. A meal can go from Hero to Zero real quick when you have nowhere to put your hot meatballs that just came out of the oven. Especially after the 40 minute cook time described above!

In order to be successful, I needed to revamp some things and invest in a tight arsenal of tools that would help me slay my galley dragon. Here’s a breakdown of my kitchen essentials that actually made me look forward to stepping into the space and taking charge.

Essential cookware: Large pot, small pot, large fry pan, small fry pan, casserole dish

These items are the work horses of the galley, and are used multiple times a day. I really had to streamline this, since my storage area is limited to a small 2’ x 3’ space under the stove. The large pot & fry pan are from the Ike 365+ collection. The small fry pan and casserole dish were carryovers from land.

Essential kitchen tools: large mixing bowl, steamer, spatula, wooden spoon, chef’s knife, collapsible measuring cups & colander

Again, these things get used, washed, and used again. The collapsible measuring cups and colander are perfect for the non-existent storage situation I’ve got going on right now. The knives are also from Ikea and are SO much better than my old Cuisinart stainless ones I had before. I’m eyeing up a cool reclaimed wood knife block to give them and our steak knives a proper home.

Essential organization: nesting food storage containers, small organizer with drawers

A lot of cooking means a lot of leftovers, and storage containers are key for these. The nesting option also helps with space.

I found the drawer storage thing at Marshalls and thought it would be a great way to stash small kitchen tools that generally drive me insane because I couldn’t figure out where to put them. I did a small victory dance when I came home and found that it just barely fit in that space. Ah, the little things…

Essential gadgets: food processor / blender combo, indoor grill, mandolin slicer, oven / stove (aka the Easy Bake)

These things make me feel like a true chef when I’m making magic happen in my inches of counter space.

The food processor / blender is clutch for making everything from mayo to pureeing soups, to dicing veggies, etc. Making our own mayo was essential during the whole 30 since we can’t have the hydrogenated oils which most store bought mayos have, and this food processor made a perfect batch every.single.time.

The indoor grill is great for not just the obvious (which it HAS been great for, considering the outdoor grill is currently shrink wrapped in), but the grill grates can be flipped over so it turns into a griddle AND a Panini press. Talk about options! I could go on, but I run the risk of sounding a little like an infomercial.

This little mandolin is great for slicing and dicing fruits & veggies in a snap. As much as I enjoy cooking, sometimes the prep can be a little daunting. Anything that helps me get everything ready in the shortest amount of time AND stores in its own case, is a winner in my galley. It makes the perfect zucchini noodles that have been our stand in for pasta these past 30 days.

So that pretty much wraps up the kitchen essentials. I’ll admit, I was pretty impressed with some of the meals I cranked out of that little 5’ x 4’ space over the past month! It’ll be interesting to see how these stack up come summertime when most of the cooking will be done on the outdoor grill. Oh summertime.. are you coming to visit soon?