Cooking in an RV can be a challenge.
You’re often dealing with limited counter space, so meal planning and prep have to be efficient.
Storage space is also at a premium, so you have to be more mindful of what ingredients and tools you bring.
The number of cooking options might be limited as well. Perhaps you don’t have an oven, or maybe you’re relying on a campfire for your primary heat source.
But just because cooking in a camper can be challenging doesn’t mean it can’t also be enjoyable.
With a little bit of planning, creativity, and resourcefulness, you’ll be able to create delicious meals in your RV that are just as good (or better!) than you could make at home.
One of the best things about RV cooking is that it forces you to be creative. You learn to make do with what you have, and as a result, your meals can be surprisingly delicious.
We’ve learned some RV cooking tips from over four years on the road full-time.
1. Maximize Kitchen Counter Space
One of the most challenging aspects of cooking in an RV is the lack of counter space. With a limited amount of room to work with, it can be difficult to prepare meals efficiently.
However, there are a few key ways to maximize the precious counter space in your RV kitchen.
Counter extensions can help extend your working surface without taking up valuable space when you’re not using it.
A cutting board that doubles as a sink cover means you can use the area the sink takes on the countertop, adding valuable kitchen real estate for meal prep.
Creative storage solutions can help keep your space clean and uncluttered to maximize available counter space. Stackable shelves and hanging spice racks are great ways to keep your kitchen organized and make the most of your limited space.
And when you’re going all out with batch cooking or preparing a large family meal, you can always use the dining table as a temporary extra workspace.
2. Store Food Properly
One of the most important things to remember when cooking in an RV is to store food properly. With limited fridge and freezer space, it’s important to use every bit of space efficiently.
An excellent way to maximize fridge space is to use vertical storage containers. They take up less room on the shelves and can help you fit more food in your fridge.
When it comes to freezing food, using freezer bags and airtight storage containers is vital. Not only does this help maintain the freshness of your foods, but it also ensures that you can make use of every bit of space in your freezer when batch cooking or preparing meals for the week ahead.
Another important aspect of storing food in an RV kitchen is to read food labels carefully. In addition, storing foods at the right temperature, keeping your fridge clean and free of clutter, and using fresh ingredients will help ensure that your meals are delicious and nutritious while traveling.
3. Plan Ahead
Meal planning is essential for anyone who wants to cook in an RV.
Not only does it help you to save money by making sure you have all the ingredients you need on hand, but it also helps you avoid waste and ensure that you always have something tasty to eat.
When meal planning, start by making a list of your favorite meals. Then, check your pantry and fridge to see if you have all the necessary ingredients. If not, add them to your shopping list.
Finally, before heading to the store or ordering groceries online, double-check your list to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
4. Use Simple, Easy to Make Recipes
One of the best ways to make cooking while RVing less stressful is to use simple, easy-to-make recipes. You’ll spend less time worrying about making a mistake and more time enjoying your meal.
You must have enough space for all of your ingredients and cooking tools, but you also need to prioritize your time so that you can cook at mealtime rather than getting side-tracked by other activities.
By choosing simple and quick recipes, such as pasta dishes with just a few basic ingredients or classic slow cooker recipes that require minimal prep work, you can make your RV kitchen much easier to use.
And with fewer things on your plate, you’ll be able to enjoy your RV trip even more!
Check out some of our favorite RV recipes:
5. Invest In Portable Cooking Equipment
When cooking in an RV, having the right tools is essential. Whether you’re a full-timer or just on the road for a short trip, investing in reliable and portable cooking equipment can make life easier and more convenient.
For example, by choosing lightweight and compact grills or stoves that can be easily packed away when not in use, you’ll be able to cook up all your favorite recipes without worrying about taking up too much space or cluttering up your rig.
And if you happen to be a full-time RVer, using portable cooking accessories also gives you the freedom to prepare your meals outdoors, whether in your campground or on the side of the road.
So no matter what kind of travel adventures you’re embarking on, having the right gear makes it easy to get home-cooked delicious meals while exploring new destinations around the world.
Here are our top picks of portable cooking kit for your RV:
- Instant Pot (or stove top pressure cooker)
- Cast Iron Skillet
- Portable Grill
- Induction Cooktop
- Pie Iron
6. Use An RV Outdoor Kitchen
Using an outdoor RV kitchen is a great way to make cooking and meal prep in your camper easier.
Not only does outdoors cooking help prevent condensation, moisture, and heat build-up inside the camper, but it also provides significantly more space for cooking and preparing meals.
This makes things more convenient for you when you’re on the road, but it can also help keep your RV clean by reducing soiling from stovetop splatters and spilled ingredients.
If you’re looking for a simple way to make cooking in your RV even more enjoyable, check out some great outdoor kitchen ideas.
7. Invest In A Refrigerator, Freezer, or Cooler
A good quality fridge, freezer, or cooler can make RV cooking easier. Now don’t get us wrong, many RVers make do without refrigeration.
But being able to chill fresh meat and dairy products means you can go to the grocery store less frequently and batch cook your meals with ease.
By prepping your meals ahead of time and storing them in the freezer or refrigerator, you can also use leftovers to create new dishes and reduce your food waste.
8. Nail Your Coffee Making
When making coffee in an RV, you can take a few different approaches. If you’re not worried about how much power is available in your RV, an electric coffee maker might be the best choice.
These convenient devices make it easy to get your morning cup of joe without worrying about how much energy you are using.
However, if you plan to do some boondocking or dry camping, a non-electric coffee maker may be the better choice.
They don’t require any power to operate, so you can enjoy your coffee even when you aren’t hooked up to shore power or running your generator.
Whether you opt for an electric coffee maker or a non-electric one, taking time to nail your coffee making will help ensure that you start each day off right!
After all, who doesn’t love a hot cup of coffee to start the day?
9. Keep Your RV Kitchen Clean
Keeping the kitchen clean and organized helps you stay organized as you prepare your meal and makes cooking much easier in the long run.
Maintaining a clean cooking space means that you can easily find and access all your utensils and ingredients without digging through piles of dirty dishes or food scraps strewn across the countertop.
Additionally, if you start cooking in a messy kitchen, you may spend more time washing up than actually cooking.
By staying on top of the mess from the get-go and regularly cleaning your RV kitchen as you go, you can make cooking a much simpler process overall and enjoy a delicious, satisfying meal at the end of it all.
10. Don’t Let Food Scraps Drain Into The Sink
Cooking in an RV can be a challenge, especially when dealing with food scraps.
It’s easy to let them slip down the drain, but that can cause problems. For example, food scraps can clog the pipes and attract insects and rodents. They can also produce offensive odors.
To avoid these problems, it’s important to dispose of food scraps properly. One way to do this is to scrape them into a container that can be emptied outside. Another option is to compost them.
If you have a large RV, you may even be able to install a garbage disposal unit.
A sink strainer will help catch debris and scraps you really don’t want clogging your plumbing system.
You can help keep your RV clean and sanitary by taking these simple steps.
11. Avoid Smelly Ingredients & Ventilate Your RV
Cooking with strong-smelling ingredients in your RV can quickly lead to pungent odors clinging to curtains and other soft furnishings. That’s why it’s important to avoid using them whenever possible.
Some of the worst offenders include garlic, onions, spices, and fish.
Cooking outdoors is ideal when preparing more pungent meals but if you can’t avoid cooking with these ingredients altogether, try to ventilate the area as much as possible.
Open all the windows and doors and turn on any fans you have.
Also, be sure to empty the garbage can frequently to avoid any odors from building up.
If you’re looking to simplify your cooking experience while RVing, try implementing some or all of these tips.
By getting organized and maximizing your counter and storage space, planning your meals, and sticking to simple recipes, you can make cooking in an RV a breeze.
And don’t forget – having a well-equipped kitchen is critical! With just a few modifications to how you cook now, you can have delicious home-cooked meals on the road.
Angela Devaney, a former IT project management professional, embarked on an adventurous journey of full-time travel, which included touring West Africa in a converted overland truck and converting an ex-military 4×4 Sprinter van into a camper for a five-year South American expedition. She now utilizes her hands-on experience to create practical RV living and van life advice as a full-time digital media producer, reaching over a million users annually through her YouTube channel, blog, and newsletter. Angela also lends her expertise as the editor-in-chief of the Campervan Electrics Handbook.