RV cooking can seem daunting at first. But don’t let the size of the kitchen in your camper deter you!
Just because your RV kitchen seems much much smaller than any kitchen you’ve seen in a house, it shouldn’t stop you from preparing tasty, healthy meals and desserts. Use these RV cooking tips to make the most of your small space.
RV kitchens are notorious for having limited storage, both dry and cold. You’re lucky if you have a pantry, and only the largest or newest luxury RVs have residential refrigerators.
One way to work around this is to plan your meals in advance and consider dishes that share ingredients. Grill a couple extra burgers (turkey, beef or veggie) on Monday, and then crumble the extras for spaghetti on Weds. Make a larger portion of pasta on Weds, and use it for a cold salad on Fri.
You get the idea.
Mix things up with some fresh herbs or dried spices. Just because you’ll use the same ingredients for multiple meals doesn’t mean they all have to taste the same. Also, be aware of how the profile of spices can change when processed.
For example, slow roasted garlic in the skin is mild and sweet, but raw finely minced garlic is quite spicy.
Advance preparation saves time so you can spend more of your days having fun. But more importantly, it also frees up limited counter space when it comes time to cook.
Go ahead and chop up all the veggies for the week. Using rice in multiple dishes this week? Make a big batch once, instead of smaller portions at each meal. Then use small, stackable containers that you can easily organize in your refrigerator to store it.
Another option to consider is a FoodSaver Space-Saver Fresh Appliance System. You can put it out of the way, and just pull it out when you do your weekly grocery shopping.
Organize Your Space
Organization is key to making the most of a small space. Store your most used gadgets and ingredients where you can reach them easiest. Things you don’t use very often can be placed farther away or even in a different location so they don’t take up valuable space.
With a little creativity and few simple do-it-yourself projects, you can create more space in your small kitchen.
Many new RVs come with a cover for the sink to extend your counter top. If yours doesn’t check to see if your cutting board fits over it.
If not, measure the width of the sink and buy a piece of plywood about 3-4 inches wider than your sink’s edges. It’s important to note that unless the wood is treated with a food-safe finish, you shouldn’t use this in direct contact with your ingredients. Otherwise, just use the extra space for mixing bowls or as a space to line up your kitchen tools before you start cooking.
Burner covers also work great for adding some space if you’re not using your cooktop.
Need some inspiration? Check out this terrific book: Creating Space Out of Thin Air.
Take it Outside
Another way to work around a small kitchen is to cook outside.
Whether you have a fancy grill or just want to cook over a campfire, making a meal outdoors is a great way to free up space. Outdoor meals don’t have to be confined to hot dogs and burgers–you can prepare nearly any meal outdoors.
Fill foil packets with your favorite meats, vegetables, and spices and make terrific meals that require no clean up afterwards!
This tip can apply to eating your meals outdoors as well. In fact, if you’re planning to eat outside, you can use your dinette table as prep space to create a more elaborate meal. Dining al fresco also reduces heat and condensation in the RV.
One Pot Meals
Whenever possible, choose one-pot meals.
One-pot meals are usually quick and rely on a handful of ingredients, so they’re typically easy to pull off. They also save time during clean up as you won’t have a stack of pots and pans to wash.
Here are some of my favorite ways to “one-pot”:
- Instant Pot – This 7-in-1 multi-functional cooker takes the place of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, and more! The pressure cooker feature makes cooking dinner quick and easy! It comes in different sizes from 3 to 8 quarts.
- Slow Cooker – Not impressed by the Instant Pot? An old fashioned slow cooker is a great tool to make one-pot meals, especially on moving day. Many folks put it in the sink and let it cook while you’re driving to your destination.
- Dutch Oven – Dutch ovens can be made of cast iron, ceramic, or clay. It’s especially durable and known for campfire cooking. Hang it over the fire for high heat or set it over indirect heat (the grill grate over the campfire works great) for a good simmer. Stack coals on the lid for baking.
Need some inspiration? Head over to Chickery’s Travels to see my RV kitchen set up and watch some small kitchen cooking videos.
Julie and her husband Sean are both US Air Force retirees traveling the country full-time in their Fifth Wheel RV. Chickery’s Travels is an educational and inspirational website and YouTube channel documenting their travels and lessons learned. In addition, they have authored a book, Full-Time RV Finance, that covers all monetary aspects of RV travel to include the big purchase, making money on the road, and saving money on travel.