In an RV, being organised is important. Whether you are living in your RV full time, or using your RV to enjoy exciting vacations, organisation is definitely key. The more organised you can be, the less the small amount of space available will be an issue, and the more time you can save. Saving time means having more time to relax, unwind, and enjoy the amazing destinations that the road has led you to, around the world. Organising an RV kitchen is always one of the more challenging organisational tasks for those living an RV lifestyle.
An RV kitchen and eating space can be as homely as any such space in an ordinary home – as long as you get things right when it comes to organising it.
A kitchen is the heart of any home – even when we are talking about an RV that is serving as a home away from home. RV kitchens can be small, and so the challenge can be even greater. But by following the tips in the article below, you can make sure that you make the most of the space available, and make sure that your RV kitchen runs like a well-oiled machine. Follow these tips and you will be whipping up a storm in any campsite or wilderness pitch in your sleek, orderly RV kitchen.
Less is More – Downsizing in an RV Kitchen
Being organised in an RV kitchen means being prepared for almost any eventuality. But being prepared does not necessarily mean having a lot. Sometimes, in an RV kitchen, it is important to remember that less is more. Here are some tips for downsizing in an RV kitchen:
Avoid Unnecessary Gadgets
Most of us are guilty of buying gadgets sometimes that we really don’t need. In our home kitchens, these can often languish in the back of our cupboards and are rarely, if ever used. In an RV, where space is usually much more limited, it is even more vital to make sure that you don’t lose place to these white elephants. What is more, reducing unnecessary gadgets is one way to save energy in your RV.
Bring Only as Many Plates, Bowls, Cups and Utensils as You Actually Need
Keeping things simple and uncluttered in an RV kitchen can make it easier to enjoy a back-to-nature experience.
When preparing for an RV vacation, or downsizing to fit your life into an RV that you plan to live in full time, it can be tempting to prepare for everything and anything. When choosing plates, bowls, cups and utensils, do not be tempted to bring more than you really need. If some unexpected party arises, having too few will rarely be a disaster, while if you bring too many of any of these things, they are likely to give you a storage headache over time. What is more, more things to eat from and with just means more washing up! Not exactly what you should be aiming for – especially if you want to save water in your RV.
Choose Pots and Pans to Feed Your Family, Not an Army
The same thing goes for the pots and pans you use to cook your food. Think about choosing multifunctional cookware that is big enough to create meals for yourself and any family you are travelling with. If you are travelling alone, or as a couple, you really don’t need massive cooking pots and pans, and can make do with much smaller cookware items. Looking into the vast range of one pot meals that you can cook in an RV should help you realise just how few pots and pans you really need.
Grow Your Own – Buy and Store Less Food
While it can be nice to have your store cupboards well-stocked with food, whether you are living in your RV or not, sometimes, less is more when it comes to food too. Shop more wisely, and take lists when shopping so you don’t over buy. Growing your own food in your RV is one great way to reduce that shopping list, and paying more attention to seasonality and sustainable food can help you to stay organised for meals in your RV kitchen throughout the year.
Working Towards Zero Waste Living in an RV Kitchen
Finally, working towards a zero waste lifestyle in your RV is not only good for the planet, it can also help you keep clutter and mess to a minimum. When you have less waste, there will be less trash to worry about – which could free up some valuable space in your RV kitchen and help you stay more organised.
General Tips for RV Kitchen Design:
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Once you have taken steps to reduce and downsize in your RV kitchen, before you take things further, it is helpful to look at the big picture before you start drilling down into the details. These general tips will help you look holistically at your RV kitchen design and organisation:
Designing for You
First off, always remember that you are designing for you and those who travel with you. General tips for RV kitchens layout and features often forget that we are all individuals, with different needs and preferences. For example, if you are a six foot tall man, you can store items with ease much higher than a far shorter female RV owner.
As well as taking practical, physical things into account, it is also important to be realistic about who you really are and how you will really use the space. Are you always super neat and tidy, or are you really a rather messy cook? Are you a kitchen genius who can cook up complex meals in next to no time? Or are you lacking a little in the cooking skills department? Factors like these, and a number of other things, can mean that what works really well for one RV owner will be a nightmare for another. Individual factors can dictate what should be included in the space, layout, and practises for using the space.
In an RV kitchen that is well-designed and well-organised, you can cook just as many wonderful meals as you can in a regular kitchen.
Zoning an RV Kitchen
Even though an RV kitchen is very small, thinking carefully about where you place each and every element can save a lot of time and effort and make things a whole lot easier when you are using your RV kitchen.
The prepping surface might be considered the ‘heart of operations’. Thinking about how close (or far away) other elements of the kitchen are placed from here can help you work out the best layout. There may be fixed elements in the layout already. These usually include:
- A stove top or hob.
- A sink
- Cupboard (or cupboards) depending on the size of your RV.
You may also have an oven, microwave, and other features.
However, in addition to these built-in items, you will also likely have a range of other elements to consider in your RV kitchen. Elements that it may be helpful to consider include:
- A chopping board, knives and other items needed in the prepping area.
- A drying rack for washing up (and any dish washing things)
- Cooking pots, pans and utensils (that are used during cooking)
- Condiments and spices used during cooking
- Short-storage fresh food (that will be used quickly)
- Long storage food (to be used later)
- Crockery and utensils for eating the meals you prepare.
- Recycling bin/ composting bin/ waste receptacle
When deciding where to put each of these elements (and any others you may need), think about where you will be when you need to access each one. Think, also, about how often you will require each item.
‘Zoning’ is a way to designate areas for different elements in a system. For each ‘position’ that you will find yourself in when using your RV kitchen (at the prepping space, at the stove, at the sink) try to think about what you will need when standing there (and how often you will need those things). The things that you will need most often should be positioned closest, while things you will only need occasionally can be placed further away. Try to think about how easy and quick it will be to grab each of the elements you need.
For example, while standing at the prepping area, you are likely to need easy access to your chopping board and prepping knives and utensils every time you use the space, so these should be as close and easily accessible as possible. (How about using a magnet to secure knives and chopping board beneath upper cabinets, for example?) You will also need easy access to your fresh food…
By working through things in this way, you can find the best place for everything you need when working on a meal, washing up or otherwise using your RV kitchen space. Having everything in the right place can make organisation a whole lot easier.
Workspace Time and Flow
One of the great things about zoning is that even in a very small space, it can save a surprising amount of time. Thinking about how you move around the space can help an RV kitchen to operate in a more organised way. When deciding how to lay out your kitchen, and where to store certain items, consider the paths you take between the different elements and try to make sure that those paths and movements are as easy and obstruction-free as possible. For example, when reaching for your spices from the stove top, you don’t want to have to move storage jars out of the way…
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Choosing Items for Easier RV Kitchen Storage
Without a doubt, storage is one of the main challenges in an RV kitchen, especially if your RV is on the small side. When choosing new items for your RV kitchen, considering items that you will be able to store more easily will undoubtedly make organising the space easier.
Many great examples of how stacking pans for RV cooking can be used inside in the oven and on the stove top, but also on campfires outdoors – multifunctional items mean less items are needed.
Kitchenware designed to stack, for example, can make storage of such items a lot easier. It can save space in your kitchen cupboards and make it easier to retrieve items when you need them, and to know where to place them when you put them away. Stackable camping cookware can be extremely useful in an RV kitchen for example, as can stackable storage jars.
Foldable & Collapsible Items
Another useful space saving tip is to look for foldable or collapsible items. Those prepping an RV as a bug out vehicle may find it useful to invest in some collapsible water containers, which can be filled up when the need arises. All RV owners could also consider other folding items, such as:
- A collapsible washing up basin
- Collapsible bowls
- Collapsible water bottles
- Collapsible mugs
- A collapsible colander
- Collapsible cooking pans.
Storing & Organising Dry Goods
When storing and organising dry good in your kitchen, try to consider how frequently each of the goods will be required. Such items will usually keep for a long time, and so can often be stored for much later use. Those dry goods you use most frequently should be stored closest to prep and cooking areas, while those used less frequently can be stored further away.
You can keep dry goods neat, tidy and fresh by storing them in recycled glass jars – an eco-friendly choice which can help you cut down on plastic in your RV kitchen. Preppers or larger families travelling in an RV could also use larger ceramic or enamelled bins with lids that seal to store larger quantities of dried goods.
Storing & Organising Cans & Jars
Try to store cans so you can use the oldest first, and so you can see the labels. This will make it easier for you to grab what you need.
Whether you have canned your own produce, or buy cans from the store, these are easy to store neatly and in an organised way in your RV kitchen. If you are storing your own preserves, make sure that you label these clearly with their date of bottling so you know the order in which to use them. Try to keep things to be used first to the front of shelves, or in the position where they can be accessed most easily.
One way to do this is to create a system which allows the cans you placed in your cupboard first to be pulled from the bottom of a holder, while cans placed later are added in at the top. You can use a simple metal magazine rack to create such a can holder system.
Storing & Organising Fresh Produce
Fresh produce should always be stored where it is easily accessed when you need it, never hidden away where it can be forgotten and left to go to waste at the back of a cupboard or out of sight. Fresh produce not in the fridge can be stored effectively in fruit hammocks, or hanging baskets placed in your RV kitchen, for example. Such hanging storage can help to save space on your worktops as well as making access easier.
Fruit baskets or fruit hammocks hung in your RV kitchen can help save space and are a good organisation tip. They can be used to store fresh vegetables too.
Storing & Organising Pots & Pans
As mentioned above, pots and pans that stack or fold are always a great option when it comes to organising an RV kitchen. Other storage solutions for pots and pans might involve a wire or hooks which allows you to hang pots and pans by their handles, and access them easily when they are needed. Sometimes, it can be a good idea to store lids separately from their bases, perhaps held by their knobs with a taut wire strung along a wall or cupboard door.
Storing & Organising Crockery & Utensils
Keeping crockery and utensils in an organised and orderly fashion can sometimes seem like one of the biggest challenges when it comes to storage in your RV kitchen. Perhaps this is because plates, bowls, mugs, cups, knives, forks and spoons, spatulas, peelers and other items come in so many shapes and sizes.
Where you have chosen stackable items, these are likely to be very easy to store and organise. If, however, you have some older and possibly mis-matched items that still have useful life left in them and you do not want to part with, there are still a number of things you can do to keep things in order.
For example, plates of all sizes can be stored and accessed more easily if you keep them vertically in a cupboard, help between wooden dowels.
Cups and mugs can be hung from hooks on the bottom of cupboard shelves to save on space and make them easy to grab.
Cooking utensils can be stored in tall jars (like those used to store spaghetti), the lids of which can be screwed on in transit to keep everything in place.
In a cutlery drawer, you can keep things orderly by creating a series of boxes to compartmentalise the contents – forks in one section, spoons in another etc… Lidded boxes in a cutlery drawer may work better than standard partitions, since the contents is less likely to become muddled in transit – then you can take off the lids of the compartments when you reach your destination, for easy access to the items within.
By considering all the tips above, you should be well on your way to making sure that your RV kitchen is super organised, and everything runs like clockwork.
Elizabeth Waddington has an MA from St. Andrews University and a Permaculture Design Certificate. She is a green living consultant, with a passion for sustainable travel, permaculture and the natural world. She lives in rural Fife, just north of Edinburgh, close to the Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland.
No stranger to RV travel, Elizabeth has travelled all over Scotland, the UK and beyond in search of natural wonders in her RV. Her camping adventures have taken her to the Grand Canyon, up the Pacific Coast of the US, to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons and to explore the wonders of Utah. She has travelled extensively in the Pacific Northwest, and around New England. In Europe, she has taken trips through much of the western part of the continent, travelled up to Norway, and down through Romania and Bulgaria to Istanbul. She looks forward to further eco-friendly adventures.