Essentials for an RV Kitchen

By Samantha Lemna | January 31, 2019

If you’re a new RV owner or new to camping in general packing can feel quite overwhelming. You want to be prepared but you also don’t want to overpack . While many RVs today have generous kitchens it’s very easy to over clutter and bring things you’ll never use. We break down the absolute essentials for your RV kitchen including what you need for cooking dishes your pantry and how to prepare for dry camping trips (where you may not have power or water).

Dishes and Cooking Tools for your RV

  • Plates

  • Bowls

  • Cups or mugs

  • Forks

  • Spoons

  • Butter knives

  • Steak knives

  • Chef Knife

  • Tongs

  • Flipper

  • Strainer

  • Pan (we recommend two sizes)

  • Pot (we recommend two sizes)

  • Pot lids

  • Salad or mixing bowl

  • Cutting board

The best materials are durable plastic or metal. You can find specialty camping dishes at many outdoors and big box stores. Avoid disposable dishware as it’s not great for the environment and can be a hassle to pack out from wherever you’re camping.

If you’re a tea or coffee drinker you’ll also want to bring along your tools for preparing your favourite hot beverage. For tea you’ll at least want a tea strainer (kettle and teapot are nice to have but not essential – you can boil water in a pot and put the tea in the strainer directly in your mug). For coffee I recommend a french press otherwise you can bring along a small coffee maker or use instant coffee.

Kids may require some extra supplies depending on their age. Don’t forget their bottles or sippy cups and specially sized utensils.

Pantry Items for Your RV

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Spice mixes (premix and put in baggies spice containers or small plastic containers)

  • Olive oil

  • Vinegar (we recommend balsamic or malt)

  • tea/coffee

You don’t need to keep a ton of food in your RV – in fact I’d advise against it to deter pests. Pre-planning your meals and packing only the food you need for each trip (plus a bit of extra “emergency” food) is the best method for ensuring nothing goes to waste.

You may want to add the following to your pantry if you’re planning on camping for a while or aren’t interested in meal planning:

  • Sweetener (honey or maple syrup)

  • Chocolate marshmallows and graham crackers for smores

  • Canned food – veggies soups beans tuna sauces

  • Grains – pasta rice oats bread

  • Cereals

  • Trail mix

  • Nut butter

You’ll want to bring fresh vegetables fruit dairy and meat as needed.

Other Essentials for your RV Kitchen

  • Biodegradable soap

  • Sponge

  • Towel

  • Lighter and/or matches

  • Oven mitts

  • Aluminium foil

  • Can opener

  • Paper towel and/or napkins

  • Corkscrew and bottle opener

  • Trash bags

  • Skewer/roasting stick (for smores or hot dogs over the fire)

You may need to bring your own firewood and propane as a fuel source for your kitchen (campfire and RV cooking respectively). Check with the campground to see if they’re available.

Organizing Your RV Kitchen

Storage is at a premium in an RV. You need to ensure things won’t break or get scattered while you drive. Proper organization can help with this as well as make your life easier and your RV better to live in. Storage bins really help with this and have the added benefit of keeping out pests. Choose clear bins or label them to help you know what’s inside at a quick glance.

There are also many specialized racks for RV cabinets and lots of clever storage ideas.

Dry Camping with Your RV

If you don’t have access to a full service RV site you’ll want to make sure you fill your water tank en route to the campground. Filling a smaller water container is also a good idea. Some campgrounds may allow you to fill your water tanks and a few have sanidumps so you can empty your black and grey water before you head home. (You can check here to see what your campground will be equipped with.)

To use your kitchen you’ll want to bring along an alternate fuel source such as a generator or propane depending on your RV. You may also want to consider cooking on a camp stove outside or over the fire.

Remember if you have no power you won’t have a functioning fridge or freezer. That means you need to cool it with ice packs or use a separate cooler (again cooled with ice packs or ice). I recommend bringing the smallest amount of food requiring refrigeration as possible. Freezing meals or meats or veggies before you go can help them stay colder longer. I also recommend consuming the food that needs to be kept cold earlier during your camping trip.

Outdoor Kitchen

Even if you have a fully equipped RV kitchen there is something nice about cooking outside. These days many RVs have pull-out outdoor kitchens. Alternatively you can set up your own with a camp stove (usually powered by propane) or cook over the campfire. Use the picnic table on your site or bring your own foldable table.

An extra plastic bin or bucket is great for washing dishes even if you have a sink in your RV. Unless you have a huge motorhome it can be tight quarters inside and you may want to wash up out in the lovely weather.

Unless the bugs or weather are particularly bad most people like to eat outside too. You can minimize the bugs and the rain with a screened tent. Or opt to provide shade and shelter with strategic tarps (don’t forget rope or bungee cords). A table cloth is a great idea for the picnic table too. You can use clamps to keep it on.

Don’t stress too much if you forget something – it happens to us all. Enjoy your camping trip and your food!