Our Italian Kitchen Tour


Our kitchen doesn’t look this clean most of the time. We’ve been cooking a lot. I’m also bad about leaving cabinet doors and drawers open.

Doug’s mother used to get on to him about closing cabinets so that he wouldn’t drive his future wife crazy. What happened? He married a woman who doesn’t close cabinets, and now it really bugs him. He can’t win.

We have a washing machine in the kitchen. I learned how to use it by watching a movie on YouTube.

We thought the oven didn’t work until our one-year-old son showed us how to turn it on. The knobs are right at his level. Convenient, right?

We bought most of our cookware, and the dishes were provided. It was an exercise in essentials: we bought a pot, a pan, a cutting board, and a knife. We also bought an immersion blender for making smoothies for a treat.

The cabinet over the sink contains a dish drying rack. This apartment has a dishwasher, which is rare, but we don’t use it because it would trip the circuit breaker.

The low electricity supply means we can only run one appliance at a time, including the heaters in the bedrooms and the hot water heater, so we opt for heat and hot water. I have to turn everything off, even the hot water heater, to run the washing machine.

Next to the washing machine is a small fridge under the counter. It makes it a little hard to save leftovers, and we can’t freeze food for later. We’ve been making three meals a day and hosting guests. With less convenience food, we’re cooking more than ever. I’m looking forward to spring with its fresh salads and fruit so we can picnic more and cook less. Do you have any suggestions for minimal fridge space? I’ll have to tell you about our whole grocery shopping system in another post.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Wow, pretty kitchen! Looks a lot like some of the ones in Argentine where I grew up! But I can see how the fridge space would be a challenge…
    aftermedschool´s last post…House Officer

  2. Love those cabinets. And all so efficient(minus the 1-year-old-level-over-start;). Looking forward to hearing about the grocery shopping, too. I go in circles with grocery shopping majorly to go less and making more frequent trips and purchasing fewer items and I’m in a phase of buying fewer items more frequently right now as we’re focusing on fresh produce and trying lots of new things. I’m guessing with your small fridge that it’s regular trips just with what you need for the day, so I’d love to hear how that works with the little ones – if you’re close enough to walk, if you purchase daily or just every couple of days other than a few key items, etc.
    Lillian´s last post…Life- Captured in a Picture

  3. That looks a lot like my kitchen! I have the same sort of fridge – and I never thought of it as small. I only have one little one, but find myself shopping for fresh stuff every day or every other day. Do you have a freezer? I use mine a lot for meat and fish. The cupboard doors are lovely.

    • The only freezer we have is a tiny little space inside the fridge. Actually it’s rather empty for the moment except for a box of fish sticks. At least I won’t ever have to clean out the freezer.

  4. Very pretty kitchen! Thanks for saying that it doesn’t always look so clean, and thanks even more for sharing your habit of leaving rrawers and cupboards open. My husband has been trying to break me of it since we got married.
    Jenny W´s last post…Organizing Your Digital Photos

  5. I stayed in an apartment for a week in historic Savannah and had a kitchen similar to this. It was very nice not having more than you need. My kitchen now is so big compared to yours, but it is frustrating because it gives us more room to accumulate stuff!
    I guess the big thing is usability though. Not having freezer space means you will have to be more prepared. But also, from what I read, most italians buy fresh from the market almost every day, so there is not much need for freezing!
    I had read about the electricity issues in Italy. Ahh, one of the things we take for granted in the US!
    Can’t wait to read about your market day!
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Find Your Balance e-book Launch!

  6. Welcome to Europe, LOL! We lived in an appartment when our two oldest were small, where I both washer and dryer in the kitchen. BUT I couldn’t run more than two things at the same time at all. After having to rig the old-fashioned ceramic fuses (new ones were too expensive) several times, I finally made list and posted it in my kitchen – which two thing could run together (hot water heater, washer, dryer, oven, stove, mixer or any other appliance, ;). It took quite a bit of planning.
    Natalija´s last post…I have been published in Somerset Digital

  7. I do the exact same thing with cabinet doors and my husband comes in behind me and has to close them. That dish drying rack above the sink is an interesting idea. Does it constantly drip into the sink?

  8. It’s interesting how different something we would consider to be “basic” is worldwide. It also shows that us Americans are probably entirely too spoiled with our big kitchens with everything in them :) I would be excited to get the chance to make due and get creative– I’m sure that’s exactly what you’ll end up doing. It also seems like a fantastic opportunity to simplify. I know it’s inconvenient to not have the space, but I’m sure now you’ll only buy what you really need. Veggies wont spoil, leftovers wont sit in the fridge until you notice them a couple weeks later covered in mold… lol.

    Perhaps stick to fresh produce that doesn’t necessarily need refrigerated? Apples, potatoes, asparagus (of course that’s all depending on what is in season there). Regardless, good luck!
    Tara´s last post…Second wind- anyone

  9. When I lived in Italy I made lots of sandwiches for myself, they were easy, didn’t take up lots of fridge space, and tasty because of the meats and cheeses available at the markets. Sounds fun…I am totally jealous!
    Stephanie´s last post…checklist

  10. My first thought when I saw your post was “I love those cabinet doors!”, then when you explained the electrical limitations my mind went to “ugh”. I think I might be willing to give up a modern circuit breaker to have that kitchen though, it looks beautiful!
    SillySimple´s last post…The story continues…

  11. Where in Florence are you staying? I stayed in an apartment there for 4 weeks and your posts just bring me back!

  12. I loved our tiny kitchen when we stayed in an apartment in Rome… we had a tiny kitchen with only the stuff we needed every day!!! I loved the tiny fridge and buying fresh food whenever we needed it. We have always had a small fridge at home: Right now it has a half a bottle of milk and a tub of cream cheese and some butter in it. The freezer part has a roll of pastry and a packet of mince for dinner… So we don’t really need a big fridge… My mother in law gifted us with a massive fridge when she downsized!!! It was for her and her husband and was always so full that they could barely open the door!!! So I have this ancient monstrous fridge in our kitchen that we just don’t use – I would love to let it go… but don’t want to offend!!! When there were just a couple of us I used the freezer more and cooked double storing extra meals but now that there are a whole bunch of us it isn’t worth it… feeding ten at a time is enough, my pots are not big enough to cook a meal for twenty at a time!!! I would rather cook daily anyway, it is a big part of time spent with my kids!!!. I blogged about our refrigerator a while back and you are welcome to take a peak inside: http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/01/11/the-cupboard

    • I think if I were in your position and had space in the garage or house, I’d leave it unplugged and use it for pantry storage. My grandparents have kept their refrigerators that burned out over the years and they use them for dry storage. It greatly extends the shelf life of pantry goods that are ruined by air. Their stockpile of crackers, cereal, chips/snacks, etc tastes perfect even beyond the “best before” date. In addition it’s critter-proof and can provide pantry space in locations that would otherwise be difficult.

  13. Loved the tour! It takes me back to the lovely Florentine B&B where we stayed during our honeymoon.

    About two months ago we rented a tiny apartment to eliminate our commute while waiting for our house to sell. It felt like a risky move, but I was surprised to find how much I love our small galley kitchen. As someone mentioned above, there’s only room for the things I need. I’ve also been tickled to find how much less time we need to spend on housekeeping. We’re inundated with messages that to make life easier we have to consume more; who knew it might actually be the other way around?!

  14. calliope(Greece) says:

    LOOOOOOOL
    Welcome to Europe!
    Where the norm is to shop everyday the fresh produce from the small shops near your house.
    I buy bread from the bakery, meat from the butcher shop and vegetables and fruits from these small kiosks you see everywhere. Are they more expensive? YES! Are they worth it? YES!
    And don’t worry about summer food. It’s going to be so hot you’ll be able to swallow only fruit, salads, ice creams and the unavoidable in Italy pasta with the most simple tomato sauce.
    Oh! I sooooo envy you!
    Enjoy!

  15. Karen (Scotland) says:

    Lol at you learning how to use the washing machine from youtube!
    I reckon your oven will have an electric switch at the wall? Learn to remember to switch it off. I have a friend whose (who’s?) little boy decided to make Pop-Up Pirate for dinner one night…
    Karen

    • Well, I have about six switches on the wall, but I only know what one of them does. I can’t figure out the rest.

      Pop Up Pirate, yum, my favorite.

  16. It boggles the mind…not even having a freezer. I’ve never been to Europe but from watching House Hunters International, I see that kitchens seem to be more of an afterthought. Some places don’t even have ovens!

    I can’t imagine having to purchase our food every day, although I’m in love with the idea. Are there places within walking distance that you can easily get to when you need something? We have stores within walking distance here (outside Philadelphia, PA), but the grocery stores are all too far away.

    I guess it’s just more evidence of the very different way that Americans live, no?

    • We definitely do have little shops around us; they’re quite convenient. It’s just hard to get used to the different mindset.

  17. I wish that we did food the European way. Getting fresh food from a market every day seems like a hassle, but I think it would diminish our American propensity for buying “edible food-like substances” and get us back to a place where we enjoy eating and preparing whole foods.

    P.S. I absolutely LOVE that you have a coke bottle in your kitchen! I’ve been trying to stay away but I still end up buying it all the time. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my desire for bubbly brown liquid.
    Jennie´s last post…Project- Simplify Week 1- Wardrobe

  18. This definitely seems to have taken cooking to a whole new simple lifestyle. I would think it would be more convenient and less waste to buy your food everyday and use it the same day as well. Although totally inconvenient if your or one of the kids were to get sick. The fridge kind of reminds me of my college days, except we had a cafeteria and no worries! Not sure how you deal with no freezer space, but perhaps to keep leftovers at bay, if you make the portions smaller than you would normally, more would get consumed.

  19. others have made similar comments here, so i will try not to repeat – definitely buying fresh produce and dairy/meats more often is not only space-saving but also delicious and FRESH! i understood your question to be related more to leftovers.

    while there are some foods that definitely need to be refrigerated, there are others that do ok at room temperature for a short period of time. even butter and certain cooked foods (not any with meat or dairy in them) are ok left at room temperature for a day or two. rice and pasta are examples – growing up, we always left rice in the pot on the stove for a day or two (max) and didn’t refrigerate it. even with veggies added in.

    it’s a small risk, of course, but i think we overdo refrigeration here in the states. years ago, when we visited family in austria, we were horrified to see milk being sold in UNrefrigerated boxes and BAGS on the grocery store shelves! but it was DIVINEly yummy and completely safe. just something to consider. also, talking about this with neighbors in your area might be a nice way to bond together!

  20. Two things –

    1) So does your refrigerator run on electricity, and is that something you can leave running all the time? It doesn’t figure into that “two things at a time” equation, right?

    and….

    2) WHOSE Coke is that, young lady??? :>)

    • No, you’re right, the fridge is running. That’s something that we don’t turn off.

      Coke? Hmm, I think I’m going to say that was for company.

      • LOL !!!

        I’m relieved to know you can run your fridge constantly.

        And… I was , uh…. just SURE that was the case.

        Now placing in my own recycle bin:
        – Soda bottle that [cough] belongs to “someone else”
        – Wooden plank retrieved from my eye. :>))

  21. I was going to recommend canned goods (like tomato sauce, applesauce, etc) to preserve goods that normally need to be refrigerated but then someone else mentioned you were talking more specifically about leftovers. I don’t know that you could can/seal leftovers but maybe there is an article on that?
    Anyway, if you find a good stock of fresh fruit, you could try canning it at home for a little bit of summer all year (jam, applesauce, corn). Love your kitchen!

  22. Love your kitchen. So cute and with just the essentials. Now that is simplicity.
    Nicole´s last post…spring to-dos

  23. yay! I’ve been waiting on more pics of the abode :) I love to hear about the essentials you’ve needed to purchase, the little bits of decor you’ve used to make this place yours and the fun trips along the way!!!
    Beth Young´s last post…Simple Mom’s Project Simplify — Week 1- day 3

  24. I really like having a small refrigerator. We decided to switch to a small one after our “big” one stopped working. It’s make me very conscious of what I buy & bring home! We also can’t do the leftover thing much but that’s alright. I use small Tupperware containers that I can stack on the shelves. I used plastic bags for awhile for lettuce, etc. but felt guily about the environment so I switched to the small washable containers. We’ve cut way back on our meat consumption becuse we don’t have must refrigerator space for storing it. We’ve started using canned goods & fresh foods more & flour tortillas (instead of bread which we always ended up giving to the birds since we couldn’t use a whole loaf).

  25. Yikes, that small fridge with no freezer is a challenge.

    I think planning and simplicity are the keys to using this small fridge space successfully.

    A meal plan helps you buy only what you need. This also tends to save money.

    Using a minimum of ingredients and keeping them simple and basic means you don’t have to store specialty items in your fridge until you need them again sometime in the distant future.

    Do you have access to canned or dry goods to have as backup in case you can’t get out for fresh things every day or two?

    Personally I would not leave out cooked foods of any kind. The cooking provides ideal conditions for spoilage and food poisoning – not worth it.

    This is my first comment but I have been reading for awhile. Love your approach to life!

    • We’ve always got dried pasta for backup. Even our pantry cabinet is a little low on food too.

  26. Ah, I want some Italian food right now! It’s my favorite. Pizza, pasta, all of it. Hungry!!

    By the way, I already thought the counters were pretty low! I guess I was right if your one-year-old son can reach the knobs lol.

    And another by the way, I used to have a very small fridge and no freezer. It’s all a matter of thinking a bit harder about what you need for that particular day (or maybe the next as well). I used to go to the supermarket about every day. Didn’t mind doing it, though. I noticed I didn’t throw out as much as I do now, just because I was planning everything a lot better.

    Have fun in Italy!!
    :D:D:D
    Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady´s last post…Enjoy life now AND save for later

  27. As Delara said, you’ll probably find that a lot of stuff doesn’t really need to be refrigerated, especially if you’re using it up within a day or two. (And especially if you turn your heating off to use the dishwasher!) I’ve never had to cope with a little fridge, but in 8 years in the UK have seen plenty of people functioning brilliantly with them, even with a couple of kids. My mother in law has baskets on shelves for lots of things- try imagining how stuff was stored before electricity. I think cheese was made to turn milk into something that would last.
    All part of the adventure, eh? Thanks for all your snippets- love reading them!

  28. Ahhh…sweet memories coming back when I see the washer and fridge! When we lived in Scotland, the washer provided outstanding entertainment for my then 8- and 2-year-olds! And I used to refer to our fridge as a dollhouse fridge, because it was teeny. We would shop every few days at a farm shop: the spot where you could buy freshly picked salad mix, grown in a greenhouse year-round. It was so tasty, as it was fresh and had lots of herbs mixed in. Sweet!

  29. Absolutely love your kitchen, it’s difficult to live with small fridge once we r use to of big ones alway sstuffed with food etc., but again it totally depends how we live what is basic
    & what is not. I grew up in India with med. size fridge, buying fresh veggies & fruits everyday was (& is) a norm, getting milk everyday is part of the daily routine & no frozen meats, trip to the butcher when ever we need meat but after moving to states it feel like we spend one day of our weekend on doing grocerry only then come back & struggle to fit in everything into fridge.

    I believe buying fresh food is more healthy but still for rainy days u need to be covered….for storing leftovers not much options but otherwise if u like vegetarian diet keeping few different kind of dry lentils is good idea for protein part of the diet.

    btw I love your space here…..I’m following u from couple of weeks only but leaving comment for the first time….

    • Thanks, we do like lentils. We’re having to learn to prepare smaller amounts at a time to avoid so many leftovers.

  30. lulubird6 says:

    Love your kitchen! I live in a Chicago and have a really great corner store that I suppose I could walk to if I wanted. The produce is very fresh and way more affordable than a regular grocery store. I find myself going there 3-4 times a week rather than stocking up. Also, their prepared foods are ridiculously overpriced so I tend to cook more meals from scratch, saving money in the process.

    I have a decent-size kitchen and fridge/freezer and there’s hardly anything in them. Whenever my parents (whose fridge/freezer are bulging to the max) come over, they always look at my pantry/fridge and I can tell, they just think we are starving and that they should go out and buy groceries to fill my kitchen! LOL!

    I agree with all those that say having the spaces invites you to just fill it up. I wish my kitchen were smaller! Now not having good electric service, though? I think I would die!

  31. Not sure how long you have been living in Italy, but you’ve missed one key essential thing. You MUST get down on your knees and bow down in gratitude to any appliance that you want to use. Do it on a daily basis. Don’t laugh… if you had gotten on your knees you would have seen how to operate the oven!
    We’ve lived in Italy for 10 years, and I still bow down when something works. You sort of get used to the lack of electricity thing..sort of.
    Do you have baskets of plug adapters scattered around the house? If not…you will.
    How about the washing machine…mine averages about 3 hours per load. And no dryer, couldn’t run the electric even if I had one.
    Italy is a gorgeous challenge, isn’t it?

    • Yes, that washing machine takes about three hours at least, but I’m just so glad to have one.

      • Karen (Scotland) says:

        Rachel – have a nose for the “fast wash” or “quick wash” or similar. There is almost always a button that will give you a quick half hour wash that is sufficient for most things. It’s usually a bit cooler and does less rinses but it’s often enough for daily clothes (not cloth nappies or anything, obviously.)
        Karen (Scotland)

    • Gorgeous Challenge – I like this

  32. Wow, amazing. What an adventure, quirks and all ;) … do you have room outside for a bbq? I’m in New Zealand, and we’re big on bbq dinners here. Especially with a salad. Great when you don’t feel like cooking in the kitchen (or if the washing machine’s going).

  33. I’m not a natural at this by any means — we live on soup in the winter and often have enough leftovers for two more meals for my family of three — but how about pasta dishes? You control the amount you make by how much pasta you put in the water and how many ingredients/how much of them you put in the sauce. Just a thought.
    jennifer´s last post…Finished Object Friday – Wide Leg Lounge Pants

  34. Looks sweet – and kind of familiar as I live in the UK. That size fridge is quite standard here, mine is slightly larger now as it is chest height with a freezer at the bottom, but it’s not huge. When I was a student 5 of us shared a fridge like that (now that was a challenge, particularly when we each insisted on buying our own brand of margarine! – madness)

    I think part of the challenge with a fridge like that is you can lose sight of what’s in it…the visibility isn’t great if that makes sense. So I would be ruthless about keeping track of whats in there and making sure a jar of gherkins etc isn’t overstaying its welcome at the back!
    Anna´s last post…Just a little bit of crafting

  35. What a fun adventure. Cute, but I can’t believe the sink in the corner of the kitchen. I guess that would annoy me the most. lol

  36. Gorgeous kitchen. Reminds me of living in NYC, where there’s absolutely no space. I didn’t have the electricity issue, but understand about the space. For me it was a game of how to guess exactly how much we’d eat in 1 meal, and make exactly that much, so we didn’t waste food, but didn’t have to save it either.
    Jackie´s last post…Menu Plan Monday

  37. Cook meat for the week all at once- then all you have to cook are the vegetables or other food to go with it. This saves us fridge space, meals are fresher, and makes meal prep much simpler.

  38. My husband feels your husband’s pain! I’m not so bad with the drawers, but my hubby frequently hits his head on the doors I leave open–whoops!

    Don’t have any tips for the small fridge, but if you want to get started on the picnic ideas, Mark Bittman has some great ones:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/02/dining/02mini.html
    Wendy´s last post…sounds like spring

    • Those are great ideas!

      I caused Doug to hit his head on the cabinet door just a few days ago.

  39. I looked away from the computer to see 3 upper cabinet doors open. Maybe I should just take them off . . .

  40. The beauty of a small fridge is that you can’t stockpile. I know, in the US, it’s all about stockpiling to save money but a little fridge forces you to buy things fresh. As they say, when in Rome… or wherever it is you are in Italy, exactly. ;) Lucky, lucky!!

  41. I am enjoying someone post things as they really are in Europe (or rather, outside of America)! My computer has gone off 4 times today with the circuit breaker tripping–someone forgets that I have the washer or dryer going when they turn something else on!

    My space is much bigger than I had in Germany so I cannot speak out of current experience. However, I have realized that everything does not have to be refrigerated like eggs. They don’t sell them refrigerated here or in Germany–I just store them in there out of habit. It is interesting to see what kinds of things restaurants and nationals leave out too (and don’t get sick from). At Thanksgiving (here and in Germany), we thaw or brine our turkey in our storeroom that isn’t heated. Its temp is the same as a refrigerator! Ha–and once in China, we left some refrigerated items out on our hotel window sill, but we had to watch that they didn’t freeze. Crazy memories!
    Jenni (Portugal)´s last post…Sights- Sweets and Sidewalks of Nazare

  42. Thanks so much for the tour! :) I really am crazy about the cabinets! I have a a full size frige that is usually packed so I am stumped at the small fridge dilema. I am gonna think about that one and get back to you!!
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s last post…I Can Sorta Relate

  43. I don’t have any advice for those challenges, but I wanted to say that it’s quite pretty! I’m really enjoying reading about your new adventure. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Two Chicks and a Hen´s last post…Homemade Granola- oh However Could I Forget about You

  44. I had to laugh about your cabinets being left open! I have that bad habit, too! My husband always says “It’s like Sixth Sense in here!” My other bad habit (that I’ll mention), is cascading my worn, but not yet dirty clothes, over my open dresser drawers. By the end of the week, there is a “waterfall” of clothes!

  45. What is is about a tour of someone else’s home that i just LOVE. Your kitchen is beautiful. Thank you for “having us over” ;)
    Katie @ Imperfect People´s last post…What does God think of Imperfect People

  46. Denise C. says:

    Love the kitchen, can’t wait to hear about grocery shopping! :)

  47. My husband played basketball overseas for 5 years and this post reminded me of all the quirky kitchens we encountered from Finland to Germany to Japan. The worst was his kitchen in Argentina that had a scary “nuclear” type button that he was afraid to push but was essential for everything to run! We live in NYC now and have a huge Viking that we love cause of it’s capacity for frozen food; we like buying in bulk then freezing. I think if we had to shop daily, which we did in Finland, we’d end up spending more money than our current freezing method, but I definitely agree on the benefit of having more fresh food!
    Quiana´s last post…Life With Nia- Seven Months Old

  48. LOVE IT!! A little bit jealous, not gonna lie!
    JWK´s last post…Spring Showers

  49. Ooh.. So awesome, Rachel.. Your Italian kitchen is a delight.. And about the fridge space, here’s what works for me.. I have a really small fridge too. Well, not as small as yours but smaller than all the other closet-sized fridges I see these days:)
    1. If the weather’s cool, keep salad veggies, except the lettuce, and fruits in baskets on the countertops, not in the fridge.
    2. Use square dishes with lids that can be stacked one on top of the other. Big space saver.
    3. Okay,I don;t about this but it works for us, so sharing it – Be very careful about quantity when cooking. We try not to have leftovers very often too save on space more than anything else:-0
    4. Buy smaller packages and bottles and use vertical space. Jars placed on lidded containers and such.
    If I think of anything else, I’ll come back and add it:-)
    I hope you find these helpful.
    Warmly,
    Prerna
    Prerna´s last post…How to Choose the Best Mom Organizer or Planner for Your Family’s Needs

  50. Lily (from Italy) says:

    It must be an old house. In mine I can use the washing machine along with another powerful appliance. It’s not like these limitations are universal… :)

    • Agreed. Mine is a old house, but the house that is built upstairs (my husbands parents live above us) do not have the same limitation. Their circuit breaker is larger than ours so doesnt get tripped as often. Only one his sisters use the hair dryer lol.

      • Lily (from Italy) says:

        When houses are renewed they usually change the whole electric system. My house was remade in the 90s so it works ok. Besides, you can ask the local energy company to get more/less power! :)

  51. What a sweet kitchen. If I shopped almost every day (which I might actually do in Europe – though the thought fills me with dread as I hate shopping) I might be able to swing a little fridge like that. But with 5 people, bulk buying and leftovers… probably not (smile).

    My washing machine also is in my kitchen, though not so central, mines tucked off to the side, next to a small stand up freezer. I LOVE having a washing machine in such a central place. I don’t let the laundry get unsightly – it’s in the kitchen afterall! and it’s so efficient for my time. Start breakfast, start the laundry. I feel having it so central helps me keep on top of it.

    • Lily (from Italy) says:

      Amazingly… I shop weekly, go to the supermarket by car. Otherwise it’s too expensive (at least for the average Italian pay :P)

  52. The light in your pictures looks so summery and pretty.

    I put my clothes in the drier this morning, but I had to go down to the basement. I try to avoid the basement if at all possible.

  53. Heh we have the same power problems. We unplug the hot water heater in the bathroom to run the one in the kitchen and vice versa. When we used the space heater both had to be unplugged, and on some days when the breaker was being finicky the fridge would get unplugged for a bit too.

    We have a small full size fridge, but I would say do as the Italians do and shop for what you need daily. My MIL goes to the grocery store everyday to cook for the days meals, sometimes twice in a day. Take advantage of the cool weather and keep certain things outside of the fridge. If its still really cool there, especially under 40 then it should be ok.

    Its impossible to keep some of the same habits you kept in America in Italy, so go with the flow and enjoy it :) I particularly like having to buy certain groceries the day I need them, its often less wasteful.

    • We’ve been putting pots of soup out on the balcony overnight when it’s so cold, but I think we’ll have to stop doing that now.

      I think I’ve been resisting going shopping every day, but it looks like I’ll need to do it!

      • I struggled with the once a day grocery shopping as well so I completely understand. But I had one too many loaves of bread go bad and too many veggies dying in the fruit drawer. Now we will buy some things ahead, because we do have a freezer. But I dont buy bread until I need it and I am more likely to plan for a short week/daily and not buy the things I know might go bad before I get a chance to use them.

  54. I think I am in love. Love with all things Italy. You are living my dream. You are my inspirations though too that dreams do come true!

  55. Your kitchen looks really nice. This thing in the cupboard over the sink isn’t actually a drying rack. If you put wet dishes in there, the cupboard floor will be ruined from the water. Don’t try it! ;-)

    • There’s actually no floor for that cupboard. It’s open except for a removable plastic tray, so no worries.

  56. Oh my goodness!! Your picture brought me back in time about 20 years when we got to our apartment in Germany in 1991. I did not have a dishwasher but did have a regular sized refridge/freezer. Everything was small in size but you sure learned what was essential and what was not. :) I loved that little kitchen and still treasure the experiences we had while living there – enjoy your time in Italy, the memories are priceless.

    PS – What are the recycling requirements like in Italy?

    • They have recycle bins on the street next to the rubbish bins for you to recycle glass and plastic.

    • For us in Sardinia its different. The trash is picked up everyday but weekends and tuesday and looks like this:

      Monday Humido ^ Secco (Food/Non recyclable) in separate trashcans
      Wednsday – Humido & Carta (Food & Paper Trash) separate trashcans
      Thursday – Plastic Only
      Friday – Secco, Humido & Vetro (Food, Non recyclable and Glass/Aluminum)

      • When I lived in Germany, there were glass recepticles on the street to use. One for green, one for brown, and one for clear glass. And then we had colored bags to separate our plastic, paper, and non-recyclables as well as specific containers for those bags. Pick up was once a week. At the time it seemed so extensive but after a little practice it became second nature. When we returned stateside I continued to separate my trash in a similiar way, according to how the city I lived in did recycling. It was funny because people thought I was a ‘tree hugger’. :)

      • Lily (from Italy) says:

        My city is going to introduce the recycling of “umido” soon, I can’t wait.

  57. I live in a small apartment where I should be able to take advantage of the room is not too big for my stuff that much. I also have a kitchen that is not too large so I bought kitchen appliances such as refrigerators are small. Not much different, the above photo looks like my kitchen.

  58. That is a cute kitchen! It actually looks very similar to ours–except we don’t have the washing machine or a dishwasher.

    We’ve learned to only refrigerate things that really need it. You’re probably close to a local market, so your produce is fresh enough and used quickly enough to stay room temperature. Most Europeans use a different type of pasteurization for their milk, so it actually doesn’t need refrigeration and stays fresh longer. Eggs, too, can be left out as long as its not very hot, and so can hard cheese like parmesan. (When I say left out, I’m assuming its not over 75 in your apartment)

    Luckily most things you buy in Italy are “Italian-sized” so you’re not dealing with Costco-sized vats of butter, making it easier to fit things in the fridge. If its still cool enough there, you could leave some things outside in a cooler with no ice. We did this during the winter when we hosted guests and it helped free up a lot of fridge space.

  59. I’m enjoying reading about your Italian experience, and love, love how you learned to operate your washing machine on YouTube. Times, they are a-changin’!
    Elen´s last post…March TBR revealed…Atlantis Rising

  60. Currently living in Switzerland with two kids – been here for 4 years and although I’ve cursed our miniscule freezer on a number of occasions, I think we’ve nearly mastered the European approach to food preparation, consumption and storage. Many of these strategies have already been mentioned. 1) I do big shops on Mondays and Fridays – I often have to pick up a couple things on the off days, but it helps to only plan 4 or 3 days worth of meals at a time and we’ve usually cleaned out our fridge by the next shop day. 2) We buy boxes of milk and juice so we can store them without being refrigerated until opened 3) We don’t make ice so the only thing we keep in the freezer is hamburger patties that we made, peas and frozen spinach (just in case we’re out of veggies) 4) We don’t have a lot of leftovers and only make enough for one meal. 5) To make up for not cooking in bulk, (and because we have two small children) our meals are pretty simple these days – most of our dishes consist of a base of ww pasta or brown rice then add veggies and tofu or fish and a yummy sauce – Friday night is always homemade pizza night though. Good luck with the adjustment!

  61. gracepmc says:

    Laughing to myself. Enjoy. I was raised in Europe and spent my career working overseas. I have a “refrigerator thing”. I can’t stand a full fridge. I have to be able to see through it. I still shop daily. But you have a family and children so your needs are different. Other than what other people have mentioned, if you do have leftovers try storing them in ziplock baggies. They can line up like little soldiers or lay flat. In Russia I could have heat or light, but never both together. A sense of humor essential. And a daily appreciation for what’s important.

    • You know, storing leftovers in ziplock baggies would be smart, but I only have twenty baggies left and I don’t think I can buy more here. I’m saving them. Hoarding them, more likely. They’re the fancy kind with the zipper and I just can’t pour spaghetti sauce into them.

      • I was just looking at our ziplocs and thinking that they are almost too nice to use on “just anything”. The really good kinds always feel like an indulgence.

        When I went to Australia my aunt had me bring over Glad Press and Seal Wrap for her. I think she is still working (slowly) through the three containers I brought her in 2003.
        Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…60 Minutes

      • Rachel, I have friends who brought a SUITCASE worth of Ziploc bags when they moved to our country a few years ago. I kid you not. They are precious commodities indeed.

        Do you dry them by hanging them on the tile walls upside down? That’s what I always did.
        Tsh @ Simple Mom´s last post…Weekend Giveaway- Hard Lotion

  62. Lily (from Italy) says:

    Rachel, I heard there is free entrance to the Uffizi (and more museums I presume?) for the 150th anniversary of Italy as a united nation, are you going? :)

    • We have a family pass to go to the Uffizi other days, but I’ve loved seeing the flags everywhere waving from people’s windows today.

  63. Kelly Heavener says:

    I love the kitchen! But, I also love the huge door going to the outside! We used to live in Germany! So beautiful! Enjoy your time there!

  64. Elizabeth says:

    Hello!
    You mentioned using a stick blender for smoothies. Do you find that they work just as well as regular blenders? I am worried about the frozen fruit being too hard for the stick blender to handle.

    Thanks!
    Elizabeth

  65. After reading these comments, I guess I’m in the minority when I say that I LOVE our huge fridge…and the thought of having to go shopping every day, or even more than once a week, makes me hyperventilate!

    Your kitchen is gorgeous, though!

  66. Thanks for sharing. It did my heart good to see a European kitchen again. After having lived in Scotland for nearly 3 years (and being back in the US for only 9 months) I can appreciate much of what you said. It was wonderful seeing that little washing machine in the kitchen again (and no, many days I never thought I’d say that!). And the small under the counter fridge. Though, I must say, both of these appliances weren’t so bad because it was just my husband and I and we also had a small freezer. Take a picture of the inside of your fridge one day after shopping. You will look fondly on that memory some day. I know I do. Enjoy your European adventures!
    Rachel O´s last post…Signing Off

  67. Ellen S. says:

    I love hearing about your Italian adventures. I’m always amazed at how different things are in Europe. I’m not sure I could handle the electricity issues, lack of Ziplocs or the 3-hr washing machine. Is it wrong that reading about this makes me very grateful for the modern conveniences of an American household?! Of course, I’m guessing there are a whole lot of good things about Italy that marginalize the inconveniences.

  68. Oh, what a beautiful kitchen! Sounds like there are definitely some challenges to overcome, but I completely understand why you’re cooking more – that kitchen would inspire me too. :)

    So exciting that you’re sharing your experiences with us! I look forward to seeing your posts!
    Susan´s last post…Do You Need Some Sabbath

  69. Reminds me of my parents kitchen back home in northern italy and the “can’t take a shower until the laundry in the washing machine is done” etc. :)