People downsize for a variety of reasons as a planned life transition and it can be pretty disruptive but when economic reality forces it on you unexpectedly, or you find yourself in a slow motion slide heading toward possible homelessness or hunger it can be a traumatic and/or paralyzing experience! The last downturn wasn’t kind, I found myself coaching many in this dilemma. Leaving what you had and downsizing to something less a grieving process. Fortunately there are ways to ease the pain and shorten the cycle while speeding recovery. Some of the people I talked to feared literal homelessness. Others found themselves packing a fraction of their stuff and moving from affluent lifestyles into rented apartments or rented rooms!
Gourmet Living in a rented room? Yes, it’s possible! I downsized from a very nice lake view home to a bedroom in my mother’s house, she was suffering from Alzheimer’s and I became her care giver for a couple of years. So I understand some of the challenges involved. The lack of privacy is a big issue so the room is mostly used for sleeping only. But eating out all the time gets old and gourmet restaurant food isn’t in a rented room person’s budget. Fortunately home cooking is! This situation sparked an interest in dorm room cooking which has turned out to be kind of a fun hobby for me. To be honest I never really cooked in a bedroom but it could be done. Instead I researched what was available and tried the cooking appliances that would make it possible. I now own a Breville Smart Toaster Oven (about $200 with a Bed bath and Beyond 20% off coupon). It isn’t a small toaster oven but you can make almost anything in it that you can make in a full size oven! So far I’ve made beef stew, roast beef, baked potato and a cake. I also have a single burner induction portable cooktop ($42 on sale. You need one with a lot of low temperature simmer power choices.) so that’s my stove, a Presto electric fry pan (maybe $30?) consider it the equivalent of second burner and a Presto Griddle (Maybe $25? Think teppanyaki not just pancakes!). You won’t have room for all of this in a single room and you can probably only use then one at a time or you will trip the breaker but I wanted to see how useful this stuff would be. Finally I bought a 2 qt. crockpot on sale at Target for $10. If you’re living in a single bedroom I’d start with the crockpot and also think about a habatichi or grill for outside. There is also a $120 sous vide solution by plugging a crockpot into a temperature controller .
Long ago I owned a kitchen remodeling company. As you may know most kitchens are sized and built for making Thanksgiving dinner for a large family. If you pay attention you will see that most home cooks rarely use more than two stove burners at a time yet they own between 4 and 6 of them! In addition they can easily do without one side of their double sink. I’m convinced that a very nice gourmet kitchen can be assembled on a single 7 or 8 ft. wall using some of the inexpensive appliances above. I was eying a 400 sq. ft. living space made up of two bedrooms a short hall and a bath between to create a Gourmet Living apartment but it isn’t in the cards at the moment. Let me know if you are in this situation and we can talk through it.
Being stuck in a small living space with limited privacy can be a very depressing situation but a few bucks and a little creativity can brighten your day with a fun cooking project and some tastily home made comfort or health food.