The Galley Kitchen: RV Article -
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The Galley Kitchen: RV

Vacationing in an RV is an excellent way to see the country without leaving the comforts of home, but it's no fun when you're not prepared.

Hitting the Road

Regardless of whether you have a deluxe motor coach or a popup tent trailer, galley space in a recreational vehicle is tight. It is temptingly easy to fill up the available storage space with your favorite kitchen gadgets and not have room for the food. A vacation is meant to be relaxing, and as such, meal preparation should not be a chore. A judiciously stocked galley will ensure you have just the equipment you need, and plenty of supplies to allow creativity in meal planning.

Be Prepared

Condiments and seasonings are, not surprisingly, the spice of life--they will help add variety to your meals. As with the equipment, versatility is helpful. If all you have is canned chili, then chili is what's for dinner. Canned beans, however, can be turned into chili, served as a side dish, made into a salad for a picnic, or even mashed into a dip. Having pasta and pasta sauce on hand is great for when you're tired from a long day of exploring and boiling water is about all the cooking you want to do!

See The Galley Kitchen for a list of pantry staples.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

As storage space is limited, you will want to take as little equipment as possible in order to maximize the space available for your supplies. Equipment and tools should be as multi-purpose as possible: a pair of large, flat pot lids--or even dinner plates--can be used to cover skillets, saucepans, and large pots alike. Not only can a colander strain your spaghetti, it will also double as a serving bowl for a salad (dressing on the side, of course) or popcorn. Leave the specialty knives at home! It is a rare recipe indeed that requires more than a sharp paring knife and 10-inch chef's knife. A serrated bread knife can also come in handy.

Recommended Equipment

  • Plastic cutting board
  • Paring knife
  • 10-inch chef's knife
  • Serrated (bread) knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Can opener and bottle opener
  • Tongs and pancake turner/spatula
  • Serving spoons
  • Soup ladle
  • Colander and/or mesh strainer
  • 1 medium and 1 large non-stick skillet
  • 2 saucepans
  • Dutch oven for cooking pasta and stews
  • Mixing bowls (can also double as serving bowls)
  • Square or rectangular baking pan
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
  • Long butane lighter
  • Non-abrasive dishwashing sponge
  • Biodegradable dishwashing detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Pot holders and dishtowels
  • Trivets for hot pans (extra potholders will work)
  • Break-proof ceramic or plastic dishes
  • Plastic tumblers and mugs
  • Stainless steel silverware
  • Coffeemaker/thermos
  • Basic first-aid kit
  • Large collapsible water carrier with spigot

    Aug. 6, 2009 12:34 pm
    and one more item. a Portable Grill will also work. another Item of interest,all sizes of Lock-n-lock storage containers.Saves on spillage, and serving,freezing etc. and last but not least, An attude of having Fun.
    Maggies Kitchen 
    Aug. 24, 2009 8:58 am
    We have been full time RVers for ten yrs. I can cook, bake everything that I cooked before. Space is tight but organizing is the key. Out door grilling is easier using a small grill and you only need to go a short few steps for grilling at any campground or park. we have traveled to Alaska, TX, MS. AZ only to name a few of the states.
    Sep. 2, 2009 5:20 am
    Jan's Kitchen 1 more useful tool is a cast iron skillet for pancakes and other items, used on the stove (for 2 burners) inside the RV. It allows both of us to eat at the same time as it cooks enough food for 2. Not always do we cook out side.
    Joe Lewis 
    Feb. 22, 2010 8:16 am
    I keep plastic butter bowls, and before a trip make soups and chile, freeze them, when done just throw the bowls away less cleanup and no storage of empty containers.
    Mar. 4, 2010 7:17 am
    We have done both seasonal and weekend camping (currently seasonal). Our current trailer, has an enormous amount of storage space, but only 1 bedroom. A jackknife sofa doesn't quite work when our 16y.o. son is 6'3. So we just purchased another where he'll have his own room. I am nervous though about storage. I would love to know of any other ideas that other people have. I have seen that some people freeze their soups,stews and other things flat in storage bags, also repackage their meats. That way they stack up with no wasted space. Horray for ziplock bags.
    May 23, 2010 4:25 pm
    If we're just going camping for the weekend, I break eggs carefully into a plastic container that fits in the door shelf of our RV fridge. You can easily pour them out one at a time and don't have to worry about storing a fragile carton of eggs. I also love my electric griddle. I usually use it outside the RV, on a table top placed under our awning. Perfect for French toast, pancakes, etc. Also good for burgers if you don't want to start up the charcoal.
    Mary Johnston 
    Jun. 23, 2010 1:11 pm
    I am getting ready for my first RV Trip. I plan on taking a travel clothes line and pens to hang up dishtowels and bathing suits. I am also adding a cork screw for wine and a couple of jars with candles for our picnic table.
    Jul. 11, 2010 6:51 pm
    We camp alot with 2 kids, here's some tips: I freeze stew and chili in empty coffee cans, can put them right onto the campfire grill to reheat, then throw away when done, no pots to wash. I freeze margaritas in small ziplock bags, they stay slushy and I don't have to pack a blender. I buy pork chops and steaks ahead of time, put them into a ziplock bag with marinade before freezing...then they marinate as they thaw. I love the new Bistro express rices by Uncle Bens, 2 min in the microwave, serve from the bag. I make waffles at home, can reheat on the grill for breakfast. We also usually only pack tortilas and flatbreads, they keep longer, pack flatter and can be used for everything from pizzas on the grill to hot dog roll ups and breakfast burritos!
    Aug. 2, 2010 9:00 pm
    Need my fellow supporters, just bought our first trailer. I am so excited to cook in it. I don't have a large kitchen or a lot of storage. My goal is to take as little along will us as possible, but still make some fantastic dished. That are easy not only on the cook but on the cook that cleans up afterwards.
    Aug. 6, 2010 1:52 pm
    We are Fulltime RV'ers. Have been for 12 years. I have gotten rid of all the plastic in our RV. When I want to store something in the cabinet or the fridge I use.... Good Old Fashioned Mason or Ball Canning Jars. They will store anything and they seal tight(especially if it is Hot food and you put it directly into the fridge.. They work great in the fridge because they don't take up as much room as a bowl. Happy Travels
    Teri Williams 
    Aug. 6, 2010 6:59 pm
    I have almost completely rid my rig from all storage "containers". I use plastic zip freezer bags for everything from sauces to crayons & batteries. Quart size bags are great for just about everything you'd need. I also freeze all my meats in these bags. Ground meats are pressed flat and extra effort to remove all air possible makes them easy to store in smaller spaces and they defrost much faster.
    Aug. 7, 2010 7:43 am
    To cook pasta in an RV, try one of plastic tube cookers that all you have to do is fill with hot water. It also drains the pasta w/o another dish. Dutch ovens are great for chili,cornbread, cobblers, meat dishes etc. Just remember to wash with hot water only and oil well after use. Most camping stores have a small round hanger for wet towels and suits. It attaches to your awning and works great, it saves on remembering to pack clothes pins. Happy RV'ing
    Aug. 16, 2010 12:12 pm
    I have found that my electric skillet and toaster oven are 2 things I can't live without in the RV. Electric skillet for potatoes, french toast, fish. Toaster oven is perfect for frozen french fries or little mini-pizzas and lots of other things when you don't want to start the oven. Perfect for just the 2 of us!
    Aug. 28, 2010 7:02 am
    I keep baking mix (like Krusteaz) in our RV. It makes pancakes for breakfast, biscuits or dumplings with soup, breading for meats, and cobbler toppings for desserts. I can make just enough for the meal without leftovers too.
    Aug. 29, 2010 9:44 pm
    We have just returned from our 4 month summer trip. I always carry a Food Saver and a Presto griddle. Before leaving home I grill/cook chicken breasts, cool and freeze then put into food saver bags. Same for ground beef. I also bake a few pounds of bacon, freeze on a cookie sheet and put into a large gallon size freezer bag. Its great when you need just a few pieces. Plus you don't get the fried smell in the RV. The first two weeks on the road need to be real simple. We fished in WA state so my food saver was used for fresh trout. We made strawberry freezer jam im Oregon using extra plastic & glass containers. Fresh blueberries went into ziplock freezer bags. We RV in a motor home about 6 months every year. I try to use everything we take. Don't load up on canned goods, they're heavy and take up lots of space. I store coffee, cereal, flour, sugar, rice in lock'n'lock containers.
    New Leaf 
    Aug. 8, 2011 10:04 am
    We are about to become full time RVers and I have some kitchen questions. How do you keep food cold while traveling? Do you leave the fridge running on gas or on battery while driving? I read that it is important to leave a lot of air space around the food, not to overfill the fridge, is that so? What do you do to stabilize things in the cabinets when you are traveling?
    Aug. 8, 2011 11:22 am
    I like the new silicone bake-ware and collapsible strainers etc. that are coming out now. I store just about everything in plastic bags and also use them for freezing, takes up much less space. I am getting my list together as we plan our adventure of full-timing... 'life on the open road'. These suggestions are great, thanks.
    Wannabe fulltimer 
    Aug. 8, 2011 4:21 pm
    New Leaf, We run our camper fridge on auto which is gas and battery when we're traveling. I have noticed that when it's full it's hard to keep stuff cold and we have issues. To stabilize things in the cabinet we have purchased a number of curtain 'spring rods' and place them across the front of the items in the cabinet. This works well for most of the cabinets and shelves. Some great ideas here and thinking I need to do some freezer baggies when I make meals at home to freeze for RV traveling. Also, looking for nice campgrounds with bike trails really close if you have any suggestions.
    Aug. 9, 2011 6:29 am
    Some really good suggestions here. I too use canning jars for storing a lot of things. I have a pretty good sized pantry. It is deep and things would get lost in the back. I use the cardboard cartons that hold a case of soda, they slide in and out really easily and keep everything in it's place.
    Aug. 9, 2011 6:31 am
    Also the colander is also the fruit bowl and rides in the sink while on the road.
    Aug. 9, 2011 6:41 am
    Another tip - if you want to take a whole gallon of milk, take out one of the shelves in the refrigerator and a gallon will fit perfectly. Then you can stack other foods in snapware next to the milk. Caution - after being on the road, open the frige real slowly. Things tend to come crashing out.
    Aug. 10, 2011 3:45 am
    One thing I didn't see mentioned is a crock pot, I could never camp without it. I love it for busy days when we are going to be out all day hiking/biking/sightseeing. Make in the morning and let is set on low all day and dinner is ready when you get back. Also for sandwiches when traveling use flour tortillas to make sandwich wraps instead of bread. They can be made ahead of time, don't get soggy and keep food from dropping all over your lap. We rarely cook inside our motor home, only if weather doesn't permit outside cooking. A propane stove, electric griddle, small table top propane grill and charcoal grill (Weber makes an 18 inch that is easly disassembled for storage). Also cast iron for cooking over the wood firepit and a tripod. If all you have is a weekend it is best to cook things ahead and freeze in ziplock freezer bags before your trip, however if you have lots of time, you can find such pleasure in preparing and cooking while RVing.
    Apr. 18, 2012 1:10 pm
    We have a B class RV and I prefer not to cook inside. I bring an electric griddle, 2 hot plates and, a cuisenart grill. I With these I can plug into the electric outlets on the side of our RV and cook all the meals I normally make at home on a table next to the van. I make meat balls at home and freeze them in sering size zip lock bags as well as a variety of repackaged meats. Bear Creek soups and chili are great for camping since most require only the addition of water and make 2 quarts of soup. Check them out for suggested aditions and customize to your needs, leftovers or, taste.
    Jun. 27, 2012 6:53 pm
    Another important thing I like to take along is my folding table. I have one I purchased at K Mart that is 4'X 2' and it folds in half for storage so it's only 2x2. The legs also collapse down to 3 different heights, which is great for little children to play on, to use as a serving table, or to have for extra space for company. I can't camp without it! Another camping trick I learned from a dear older lady last summer (wish I would have known this years ago) was if you have problems burning things in your camper oven, try putting ceramic tiles under your rack. Make sure they have no glaze or a fired glaze on them. They really help with burning the bottoms of things. Oh, and by doing this, you can use frozen cookie dough in it! Another time saver.
    Aug. 17, 2012 9:52 am
    We are new at this. Have only done a few over night camping trips ,so far. We are about to become full time RVers . There are some good tips here. Thanks so much.
    Jul. 25, 2013 8:54 pm
    We're planning on full-timing next year. I'm always looking for wisdom from those of you who are experienced. I do plan on using my crockpot a lot. I have also been dehydrating some of my own fruits and veggies. I will have to take them in canning jars, to keep them safely sealed. We'll also need our blender for daily smoothies.
    Nov. 1, 2013 1:25 pm
    Will be renting an RV for tailgating at a football game, before and after game. No RV /RV cooking experience whatsoever so please excuse my stupid questions! So in order to make use of crockpots to have food ready for after the game, I will be plugging them in and running the generator to power them in the empty RV while we are at the game? Is this standard practice and safe? Thanks in advance!
    Nov. 13, 2013 2:28 pm
    We have been full timing for almost 2-1/2 years. Many good things mentioned here. We use paper towels and wipe out all dishes and utensils as soon as they are used. It cuts down on the amount of water used, particularly when we are dry camping and conserving water is important. Use paper products as much as possible as they are recyclable; use non-disposable dishes when you have full hookups. When needing to use your generator,plan ahead for what needs to be done (vacuuming, charging up phones, heating water, making coffee). Also, have a thermos available to keep coffee hot all day!
    Dec. 3, 2013 2:12 pm
    I couldn't live without my stick blender/chopper. Takes up way less room and does everything I need. Also I keep my silverware in a 4 section carry out in my cupboard - easy to access and to carry outside and frees up drawer space. Shoe box size plastic bins also keep food from shifting and falling out when you open cupboard door.
    Apr. 26, 2014 6:20 pm
    Thank you so much for this list. My husband and I are first-timers. We are in the process of getting the RV stocked and this list is a tremendous help. Makes the task much more manageable.
    Apr. 26, 2014 9:49 pm
    My husband , two Bassets & I are just purchasing our first RV ! I love to cook & everyone has great ideas ! I can't wait to post some of our ideas ! Thank you everyone
    Jul. 2, 2014 11:12 am
    We just bought our first travel trailer and took a trip to Colorado. I fed 5 hungry kids over a weekend without breaking the bank. A loaf of bread, lunch meat, cheese and a bag of chips worked for lunch. Before leaving, I purchased pre-marinated chicken fajitas from my butcher and served that with tortillas and avocado. I packed my Kuerig brewer and it was super easy for everybody to line up and get their coffee, plus, the Keurig can instantly provide a shot of hot water for instant oatmeal, just add some sliced bananas. I also broke a carton of eggs into a ziplock bag before we left and made scrambled eggs. Finally, another dinner was hot dogs but I chopped an onion, tomatoes, and pickles so the kids could dress their dogs however they liked. The entire weekend cost $150 to feed all those kids plus me and my wife. We would have spent that much on just one meal at a restaurant with that crowd.
    Aug. 20, 2014 12:48 pm
    This is just what I was looking for. We just bought an RV, have used it once so far and over labor day my hubby and I are going to camp alone (no KIDS!!!) so I look forward to some quality time with both my hubby and my new RV. I'm thinking of what we want for meals and trying to make sure we have all the essentials. Can I ask how long the staples stay good in an RV? things like flour, sugar, baking mix? Can I just keep them there in containers or should I take them out after each trip? thanks for the help. The list is great.
    Aug. 31, 2014 3:19 pm
    I have found that empty peanut butter jars are perfect for the RV. They have screw on tops and are unbreakable. I start the spring off by filling them up with lots of condiments and when the trip is over put them in the overflow refrigerator. They are then ready to go on the next trip.
    Aug. 31, 2014 3:23 pm
    I stock my pantry in March with staples such as flour, sugar, corn meal, instant rice, pasta, etc. They stay until we winterize in Nov.
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