Kitchen Tips…what we have learned so far living tiny!

As many of you know,  we have transitioned from 2400 sq.ft. house to 1400 sq. ft. townhouse apartment this past fall.  During the time the house was for sale and during our (not to be repeated as too stressful) move- we spent a LOT of time in the sanctuary of our 1973 Avion LaGrande, 28 foot vintage travel trailer we affectionately call, “The Pewter Palace”.  We truly count our blessings for having her and the ability to have a place to lay our heads and feel released of cardboard boxes and all that goes along with a big move.

I found as I spent more and more time cooking in our tiny RV kitchen several very important things that i have carried forward into our small galley style kitchen– and some well, are just tips for RV kitchen day to day use.  When we eventually do our final transition to full time RV living some of these will really come into play while still more remain yet undiscovered.

A few tips to get started:

In the RV having a small double bowl sink is preferable over a large sink.  In the RV the dual sink allows for putting in one of those small dish drainer racks so you do not need to clutter up precious counter space with a rack or pad. (I only have a large sink in our apartment, which i like but I do not use a dish drying rack on the counter.  I have a pad I store away under the sink for when needed, but for the most part I use my dishwasher far more, and when I do have dishes that need drying, I dry them right away and put them away instantly.  Keeping a cleaned off tidy counter is far more satisfying for me now).

My sink area in the Pewter Palace when we first bought it (on left) and before I added my personal touches. It gives you a good idea of layout though and the dual sink setup.  We luckily found the original cutting board covers for each sink buried under junk under the sink.  You can see what I mean by precious counter space!  Picture on right was from Summer 2017 at the Tin Can Tourist NE Rally at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY.

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Dual RV sink also allows for:

  • Easier to rinse lettuce, veggies, etc.
  • A place to store counter items when rolling down the road ( I wrap items in dry dishtowels to prevent rattling)
  • Filled with ice cubes they both make a dandy place to put cold beer or dish that needs to be kept cold during entertaining
  • You typically do not have large platters or serving pieces on an RV so you do not need a large basin sink to fully submerge dishes.
  • One sink can double as storage space for your loaf of bread or bagels (i just put the sink cover on and wholla–bread is handy for sandwich making but not taking up space in fridge or cupboard.

Collapsible Bowls, Measuring Cups, Food Storage Containers and Strainers are awesome!                                       

GET SQUARE when you can!

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I just purchased these on Amazon based on referral by a full time RVer.  Yes, it totally makes sense to have square items in a square cupboard!

There are ever increasing amounts of online and big box (Bed, Bath and Beyond for one) who are selling collapsible kitchen gear.  Get square shapes when you can because they sit next to each other or other items in storage easier in cupboards and drawers.  Ditto on the square shapes for food storage containers too.

Keep your collapsible bowls in the cupboard right above your head at the sink.  These bowls will be used at least two times a day and should be readily handy and not buried.

Try to get bowls that come with lids.  They double as food storage as needed in a pinch but do not rely on them—otherwise when you need it to scramble eggs in one morning you are SOL and have to dump your leftovers or scramble the eggs in your coffee mug.

Get one BIG collapsible mixing bowl besides 2-3 that are small , 4-7″ diameter to medium (9″ diameter).  That is truly all you need.   That big size mixing bowl (about 11-13″ diameter) does come in handy for making a big pot luck salad to share, popcorn by the fire pit or even for soaking some ketchup stained shirt in some OxiClean (yeah…been there!).

To Strain or Not to Strain—that is the question!   In my quest to go collapsible to save precious space I did purchase a collapsible strainer for the Pewter Palace.  Thinking it would be perfect for pasta straining and……hmmmm???…what else would i use it for?  Well, actually in our first year of camping (including our four months nearly full timing) I have only used it once.  I really prefer my flat Pampered Chef grey pot drainer paddle.  Here is a photo because I cannot remember what they call it.  I love this thing and use it weekly at home too.  This is one item that I admit I will have to purchase one exclusively for the RV and just have not gotten around to it.  It is so easy to use for any size pots (more on them later too!) and is flat and simple.  So who knows….the question of to Strain or not to Strain- may make my collapsible strainer end up for sale at one of our RV rally swap meet sessions.  Space is way too valuable in an RV to have stuff in a cupboard that is not used nearly every day.

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One more collapsible item I purchased was a very large collapsible bucket.  It sits kinda buried under my kitchen sink but because it folds down to only about a 1.5″ high it does not really take up much space.  We really could not fit a 5 gallon plastic bucket anywhere in our rig (inside or outside storage) so this does the trick.  Additionally, it comes in handy if you want to give your baby (I am talking about your RV here….not a real baby) a bath or as we found this summer when Kevin needed to soak his feet….it worked awesome!

In a pinch, the large collapsible bucket can also be used for:

  • toting laundry to and from the campsite laundry facilities
  • a game bucket to have your grandkids try to aim for with some balls or acorn tops or anything handy-well, almost anything handy.
  • makes a great cooler for beer when filled with ice when entertaining
  • soak dirty clothes in and do a mini laundry on the fly when needed
  • fill up to use as a clean water flush when cleaning your black/grey water systems

Another gadget that I have found to be indispensable, easy care and to store is my stove top toaster (best one ever!) which I have already done a separate blog post in detail about this gadget if you want to order one yourself.  This thing is non mechanical so great for boondocking.  Does not take up even a fraction of what an electric two slice toaster would take up in storing but also does not take away my counter space either!

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Dishes, plates, cereal bowls, coffee mugs Only put onboard a dish service for four max.  I use Corelle ware because it is light, takes a beating and does not break as easy as iron stone.  I do not like plastic plates for anything beyond a sandwich.  It is plenty, just wash your dishes and put them right away!  We do have some papergoods on board but do not use them routinely unless boondocking.

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Pots and pans can be kept to a minimum too.  You are camping—use the outside grill!  we have one small deep saucepan, one 9″ diameter deep sauce pan (that’s for that pasta or rice!) and two very small non stick fry pans, one with a lid.  I do not use cast iron because it is too heavy.  I do have one cast iron oblong sided griddle (an antique and rare) that i will bring when the grand kids or company come camping with us just to use on the grill or if pancakes are called for so I can do a decent size batch.

Coffee maker?  We LOVE our Farberware 10 cup Perculator.   I refuse to go the Keurig route because of space it takes up, wastefulness of those pod cups and the cost!  See a past blog post or our FB page for more info on our Perculator.  Again, no taking up counter space.  Easy to store in the cupboard, makes outstanding coffee.  Hint–we love to grind our own so I do pre-grind a bunch of coffee and put it in my Coffee keeper on board.  I will have to do a future post on that container because it is outstanding too and easily purchased on Amazon. (yeah, you are getting it that I do a lot of shopping there.  That is because I also have a CC tied to my Amazon so I get amazing points for stuff I would be purchasing locally every week like gas, groceries, or even co-pays at MD appointments.  Then I go “RV shopping” to Amazon and buy things with my points….no cash outlay– nice!

Hanging String Bags for Produce, Baked Goods, Fruits:  These babies are the best way to not fill up your 8 cubic foot fridge with odd sized, big stuff.  We simply screwed some of those safety clip cup hooks under this wood shelf and hook them in there.  Very secure and easy access.  Plus I have definitely noticed that the fruit and veggies keep longer because of air flow.  Plus, right handy when doing meal prep.

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They are completely washable and can also double for other things when needed;

  • Like a bag to take towels and gear to the lake, beach or pool.
  • A bag to use to put plastic dishes in to toss into a stream to wash off if water is getting low in holding tanks
  • Laundry bag for dirties
  • Tote sandbox or pool toys for kiddo’s.

We originally kept them up and with food in them when rolling down the road, but Kevin has since suggested that they come down if I have heavy things in them like in this photo where I had lot of apples.   So now I will just sit then in the sink or on the dinette bench seat when traveling just so we are not putting undo strain on the underside of the wood shelf.

12 slot large cupcake pans (one for each person).  THIS is a Keeper for sure!  We had to learn it the hard way as newbies and run to the closest WalMart when at our first TCT Rally.  Many rallies have fabulous Pot Luck Dinners built into the group social plans.  They are wonderful, provide lo-cost ways to get your meals and outstanding ways to meet fellow RVers.  True long timer’s know the best thing to do is to bring a cupcake pan as your plate!!  This way you take samples of all the yummies you want, ok–you can fill a few of the spaces with chili and desserts if that pleases you!  You may be tempted to not look quite so much like a glutton by only buying a nine or six slot pan, but honestly the 12 slot is the best because you can do salads, veggies, main course and dessert in one swoop.  As anyone knows…camping folks are hungry folks and if you do not snag something your first time in line- it may not be there when you go up for seconds! This cup cake pan plate allows you to not have to bring a separate bowl for any soups or chili’s (there are always awesome chili’s of all types that are brought to these pot lucks).  And it is FAR easier not to have to try to balance carrying all of that either.  This was one of those —wow!!…what a great idea things that we learned from experienced campers and we cherish it totally and love the fact we may be passing on this tip to someone reading this blog that is a newbie like us!

Oh—almost forgot—–Your oven?  we do have one- have not used it yet but it does work… But I, like tons of other RVers, find it great for storing things in!  I keep my stove top toasters( yes, we have two), a disposable aluminum roasting pan and one cookie sheet in there.  Just never, ever store anything on that lower level area where your gas pilot inlet is.  Only store on the wire rack shelf.

Hope you have enjoyed my musings…..get your cupcake pan!  Smell the coffee and get out there and enjoy cooking in a tiny kitchen you call home!

~~  One Life….Live it!

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