RV Kitchen Essentials – Pare Down like a Pro


Paring down to the RV kitchen essentials is key to functioning in your smaller space. Especially when considering how many tools, utensils and gadgets you currently have in your kitchen. Not only does your RV kitchen need to store your pots, pans and utensils but also function as a pantry so prepare to pare down. If you think about the items you have in your current kitchen I’m sure there are many that come to mind that you rarely use but also many that you use every day.

I’ve complied a list of 6 must have items essential to any RV kitchen based on their utility and multi use roles. You would be surprised at how many people suffer through cooking everyday with a mountain of poor quality utensils. In an RV it’s about quality not quantity!

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If this list doesn’t cover it for you check out my Recomended Products Page for Kitchen Essentials.

6) Food Storage Systems

Left overs, partially used parts of veggies etc still need a sanitary way to be stored in an RV. Selecting a few different sized Tupperware containers will be a huge help for storing extra food items. I’ll reiterate quality not quantity. I know you have an exploding Tupperware drawer in your house with mismatched lids and half melted sides but your kitchen would be better served with paring down the count. If you have time before you start your trip, start tracking which sizes are most useful for your family. We began our tiny home life with too much Tupperware in our drawer but slowly whittled them down to just a few essential sizes. In general we use the blue Gladware, the odd small one and the Ikea glass dishes. I like having the glass dishes for microwaving since all our dishes are plastic and I try not to microwave plastic. The smaller plastic style stack well in an RV fridge which has more height than shelf space.

5) Kettle

Now I know you can boil water in any pot but honestly, have you ever successfully poured water out of a pot into a mug without splashing everywhere or burning your hands with the steam? Spilling boiling water once is enough for me making a basic stove top kettle a must have. Making coffee and oatmeal for breakfast is a walk in the park with an easy pouring kettle of boiled water, and if you’re an afternoon tea drinker you can also relate. In fact, we have an electric kettle and a stove top one. We packed both since we owned both when we started our trip and it allows us to reduce our propane usage when we’re plugged in and save our batteries when we’re not. Our stove top kettle is a very inexpensive one we picked up at Big Lots a few years ago similar to this and our electric we’ve had for years similar to this. For these and many other reasons, having a kettle in your RV’s cupboards is a must for any traveler. For how we make coffee in the RV check out our post here.

4) Pots and Pans

I’m sure you are rolling your eyes right now because who can cook without a pot or a pan. What I really mean is a quality, decent sized pot and a quality, decent sized pan. Its astonishing how many people’s household kitchens have a plethora of pots and pans that are completely scratched and next to useless aside from chasing food thieves out of the kitchen. Invest in a quality non-stick pan that’s surface won’t start peeling off into your families food and can handle the intense heat of your propane stove, my stove has two settings high and off making a good quality pan paramount. Also, purchase a pan that can perform a multitude of tasks, we have upgraded to a non-stick ceramic frying pan in our kitchen but more and more I’m considering swapping it for a deep sided stir-fry pan with a lid instead. Same goes for pots. We were fortunate to already own a high quality set of pots we’d received as a wedding gift but we pared down to just two in the RV. One of our pots is a huge soup pot which has come in handy in lieu of a deep stir-fry pan and the other is a medium sized pot for making rice/quinoa/pasta. Use your judgment for the size of your pots based on the number of people you are cooking for. Just remember quality over quantity!

3) Spatulas

As I mentioned at the start, some of these items are “well duh”s. Purchase a sturdy spatula and flipper! Nothing is worse than a poor quality spatula that is melting to the pan and threatens to snap with every stir. I’m looking at you dollar store kitchenware. We have one flipper and one spatula in our RV kitchen and aside from occasionally longing for a pasta scoop, you know the ones with the forked spoon, these are more than enough to cover our cooking needs. Also having one with a little foot to prevent it from making a huge mess on your counter is an added bonus

2) Cutting Boards

Cutting boards are another kitchen item that often accumulate like paperclips to a magnet. For instance I used to have 6 cuttings boards, granted I received 4 for Christmas one year… don’t ask. For us, two cutting boards are more than enough to tackle our daily meal projects. We started the kitchen with four but have recently ditched one for lack of use, the other is the top to our sink and it’s a nice design feature so we refrain from doing any chopping on it. We have a medium sized plastic cutting board which we use at lunch time to cut up vegetables and cheese which fits perfectly in the sink (we do dishes once a day to save on water so lunch dishes hangout in the sink until dish time). The other one we use all the time is a large bamboo cutting board. It gives us plenty of space to cut up a ton of veggies and whatever else requires chopping for dinner. I should also point out that we are vegetarian so we don’t worry about cross contamination or cutting meat on a wood cutting board. If you are a meat eater then 3 cutting boards is likely a good number to keep your raw meats separate from the other ingredients.

1) Knives

Another item people tend to suffer with are dull, ineffective knives. Nothing is more dangerous in a kitchen than a dull knife! To avoid the whole sharpening of knives and having to carry one of those big knife sharpeners we switched to ceramic. If you already have quality metal knives then invest in a little sharpener to keep those puppies sharp. We have 3 knives but that’s because we purchased them in a package, 2 would do us fine. All that is required is a pairing knife and medium sized chefs knife. These two will get you through most meal preps; keep in mind your RV cooking will likely be simplified compared to what you would do at home. There are pros and cons to each knife type, metal blades need to be sharpened, ceramic is brittle and can chip if dropped. If you drop your knife on the floor there is a good chance you will break the tip and be sad, then continue using it as is. Just speaking from experience folks.

There you have it, my 6 essential kitchen items, I guess it’s technically more then that but my 6 categories of items if you want to get picky on me. There are a few nice to have items out there as well such as a peeler, strainer and garlic press but all of these can be replaced by one of the RV kitchen essentials listed above.

What are your must have kitchen essentials?

Diane Dee

Diane is a lover of all things travel. She and her young family wanted to explore North America from the comfort of their own home so they bought an RV. After fully rehabbing a 1994 Safari Trek, they set out to explore both Canada and the USA.

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