The keys to working in a small kitchen are prioritizing, organizing, and having great tools. If you can make it in a regular house, you can make it in an RV. However, most RV kitchens are rather small and countertop space can be very limiting, having the right tools for your style of cooking will make life a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Before moving into our RV full-time, I wasn’t into cooking, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not into it (actually, I used to hate cooking) and eating out was a regular occurrence for us. All that dining out caused Al and me to gain weight and not feel like we were functioning at the top of our game. These days, we rarely dine out. When we do go out, we try to search out unique eateries and/or order items I don’t make at home. Eating out has become part of our travel adventure instead of our everyday routine.
The upside to cooking at home the majority of the time is Al and I have both lost weight, we feel better, and our bank account is equally happy. I’m still not “into” cooking or consider myself a foodie, but I have come to enjoy making our own meals. Thank goodness, I have the right tools!
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Don’t scrimp on gear
Whether you full-time RV or part-time RV, don’t scrimp on your kitchen gear. These days it’s so easy to outfit a kitchen on a budget. No need to use old or used castaway pots and pans. You want to feel good about being in the kitchen and preparing a healthy and tasty meal for you and your family. Way back when we first purchased our truck camper (before the 5th wheel), I went to TJ Max/Home Goods and outfitted the truck camper kitchen. Surrounding myself with nice, new, pretty gear made my time in the kitchen more palatable. 🤭
Several years later, some of those very items were transferred to the 5th wheel and are still in use today. Once we moved into the RV full-time, a lot of my kitchen gear from the sticks and bricks house was then moved into the RV. Here are some of my favorite kitchen items …
I discovered Calphalon Cookware a couple of years before we went RVing full-time and have since bought a set for my daughter and son. This cookware cooks evenly, is non-stick, and I’ve never burned anything in any of the pots, I swear! To go with those pots and pans, I love using silicone spatulas and Bamboo wooden spoons.
A good set of knives should be a top priority in any kitchen. I moved my favorite Henckels into the RV from our sticks and bricks house. And of course, with those knives, we’ll need some cutting boards. I do have some thin cutting board mats that are easy to store, but I don’t use those as much as the Bamboo cutting boards and a Digital Meat Thermometer is right up there as a must-have.
A food processor, blender, and hand mixer have traveled with me from day one. Granted, they aren’t items I use on a daily basis, but when I need them, it’s great to have them on hand. Oh, and it also pays to not go cheap on these products. It’ll just lead to frustration and when you really aren’t interested in spending time in the kitchen in the first place, well let’s just say, inferior products take any joy out of cooking or baking.
Just because I live in an RV which is tantamount to living in a rolling earthquake, does not mean I’m relegated to plastic products only. I use these Pyrex glass mixing bowls regularly. When stored, I simply wrap and divide the bowls in towels.
Since storage is at a premium in an RV, we want to use products that can be multi-purpose. Little dip type bowls are great for making salad dressings or dips. They also work for serving nuts, guacamole, salsas, and other dips while entertaining. A Ball Jar is also great for making homemade salad dressings.
I love my collapsible salad spinner and use it regularly. And no kitchen would be complete without a bunch of cute kitchen towels. I recommend staying away from white towels for everyday use. Since I don’t have my own washer/dryer and rely on laundromats, keeping my towels white has been a struggle. Colored or patterned towels are definitely the way to go.
We use both Corelle ware and a few pieces of stoneware, the breakable kind. Thus, far I haven’t had any of my ‘real‘ plates break, but I can’t say the same for glasses. Yeah, I tried traveling with real wine glasses (the Stemless kind) and they didn’t last long. Plus, it’s not a good idea to have glass around a campfire or beach. So, we’re back to using plastic stemless wine glasses and red solo cups for margaritas.
We have friends that love their Stainless Steel Tumblers and it’s a product I’m looking into that I might add to our kitchen.
Silverware/flatware – we all need utensils to eat with … well most of us do, anyway. I’m not too picky when it comes to flatware. I found our Oneida set at an outlet mall over ten years ago and I’m still happy with it. I do use a Bamboo drawer organizer to keep my utensils from rolling all over the place.
Must have, can’t live without
I’m a coffee drinker. I was sixteen when I started drinking coffee. I spent my summer in Germany visiting extended family and every afternoon between 2:00 and 4:00 the cafes were packed with folks enjoying coffee and a pastry. Just like the English enjoy their tea time, the German’s enjoy their coffee time. My aunt and cousins encouraged me to join them every afternoon for a cup of coffee and pastry. It didn’t take me long to pick up this habit.
A coffee maker of some sort always travels with me. Whether it’s an electric drip or an inexpensive pour-over filter Cone (which I use when tent camping), I’m ready for my morning coffee. In the afternoons, I’ve adopted the English tradition of enjoying a spot of tea in the afternoon. I use only loose leaf tea. I’ve never been a fan of tea until discovering the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, Arizona. A few weeks after lunch at the Tea Room, I joined Al and our daughter for Dim Sum at a local Chinese restaurant and also fell in love with the tea there. So, now I’m a tea drinker as well as a coffee drinker. BTW, I really dislike American tea bag kind of teas.
Last Christmas, my husband surprised me with a gift of tea products. And trust me, this was truly a surprise. We don’t usually do the gift surprise thing anymore for birthday’s or Christmas, but after this delightful gift, I may rethink the whole surprise thing. We’ll see how well he does next year.😆 I love the Jasmine Green Tea and when I mix it with with the Oolong Tea it tastes identical to the tea served at the Chinese restaurant. I do like to use a tea strainer to ensure that I don’t swallow tea leaves.
Rounding out the kitchen list
I’d be lost without my propane grill. I know some folks prefer grilling with real charcoal, but once you travel in the western United States where fire danger is high, a propane grill will be your only option due to fire restrictions.
There are some days when the weather just won’t cooperate and grilling outdoors isn’t practical. The next best thing is my panini pan. When those desert temperatures drop during winter months, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of soup or Chili. That’s when I turn to my crockpot. I know there are folks that swear by their Instant Pot, and as much as I’ve looked into getting one, their size hasn’t convinced me yet.
And a few actual cookbooks help keep me inspired. I need all the help I can get!
So what about you? Do you have items in your kitchen that you couldn’t live without? What is your essential kitchen gear?