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There are certain aspects of cooking, such as one's skill or technique, that can be improved upon with proper instruction and practice. You can master basic knife cuts, learn to make the perfect pie crust and become a grill master.

But when it comes to the size of your kitchen, you're often forced to deal with the hand you've been dealt. Limited counter space not only restricts your room to operate when preparing meals, and can also reduce cooking creativity.

Still, there's plenty you can do to make the most of the situation without a costly major home renovation. I spent a decade in a prewar third-floor walk-up apartment in New York City that only had about 3 feet of countertop, so I know firsthand that not all is lost.

Here are five ways to get the most out of limited counter space in your kitchen.

Free up as much space as you can

First things first: You're going to have to make some tough decisions about what pieces of equipment you use frequently enough to warrant a permanent spot on your counter. For the highly caffeinated, a coffeemaker might be at the top of the list. Lovers of beans, grains and stews might go with an Instant Pot. Big bakers will want to consider a stand mixer. People on the go might need easy access to a toaster every morning. It's all about how you cook and what works best for you. The only appliances that stay out in my kitchen are my air fryer and seltzer maker. Everything else should find a home in a cabinet or pantry, to be brought out only when needed.

Optimize the surface area you have

Optimization is all about rethinking some standard items and areas in your kitchen. Instead of that large dish rack that sits next to the sink, find one that goes over the sink to reclaim those precious square inches, or opt for drying mats that you can stow away when you don't need them. Invest in a cutting board that can fit over the sink or stove to leave room for everything else. Use a collapsible tiered cooling rack not just for baked goods, but also for gathering all of the equipment and ingredients you need for a recipe.

In lieu of a costly renovation or buying a new home, there are much more affordable options to consider for supplementing what you already have. If you have the floor space — or at least can spare some when cooking — consider adding a wall-mounted drop-down table or investing in a rolling kitchen cart. (I almost exclusively did all of my prep on a small cart from Ikea before I moved to D.C.)

Practice the art of mise en place

"Mise en place" is a French term that roughly translates to "putting in place." Culinarily speaking, it is a fancy way of encouraging people to gather all of the requisite tools for a recipe and to do all of their slicing, dicing and other prep work before starting to cook. Not only does it save you from realizing you ran out of that one ingredient you need, from hunting for the right measuring cup at the last second, and just generally allowing you to move faster through the recipe, but it also means not having to find space at the last minute to shred the chicken to add to a pot of soup.

Clean as you go

Done with those spices? Put the jars back in the cabinet. Finished shredding cheese? Wash the grater and store it away (or at least put it in the dishwasher). No longer need the jar of olives? Time to put it back in the fridge. Getting all of the stuff you don't need anymore out of the way means you'll actually have space to put pots and pans when you take them off the stove or out of the oven instead of being stuck holding a hot sheet pan and trying to figure out what to do with it. As a bonus, it'll make cleaning at the end of cooking go that much quicker.

Keep it real and simple

As much as you can find workarounds for a lack of counter space, I recommend not overburdening yourself by trying to make a multicourse-meal-shaped peg fit into a sheet-pan-supper-sized hole. Sometimes — particularly on busy weeknights and if you're feeding a hungry family -— you have to face the reality of what you can do in your kitchen and stick with more practical meals that require limited prep work and dirty the fewest dishes.