When it comes to RV living, coming up with space-saving tricks is essential. That’s true for clothing, gear, and especially your RV pantry.
Because space is at such a premium, it’s vital to consider space efficiency, versatility, shelf stability, organization, and accessibility. After all, many RVs are known for having awkward cabinetry, making it difficult to find that ingredient you know is hiding somewhere.
Essential Cooking Staples for Your RV Pantry
When choosing pantry essentials for your RV, it’s important to look for foods that are versatile and suit multiple purposes, such as:
- Broths and stocks that can be used in soups, stews, risottos, and to add flavor to grains like rice or quinoa.
- Canned tomatoes, which can be used in everything from pasta sauces to chili to soups and stews, casserole-type dishes, pizzas, etc.
- Oils and vinegars, which are not only good for cooking but can be used for dressings, salads, and marinades. They can also be added to sauces and stews to add depth and richness.
- Pasta and rice, which can be the star of the show in salads and stir-fries or used for a variety of sides.
- Beans and legumes add protein and fiber to salads, soups, and countless other recipes.
- All-purpose flour isn’t just for baking. It can be used to thicken sauces or for roux when making soups and stews.
- Herbs and spices like garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, paprika, and cumin can be used in various delicious cuisines to fit nearly anyone’s tastes.
- Soy sauce and tamari can turn up the flavor in stir-fries, marinates, and many other dishes.
- Honey or maple syrup are natural flavors that can be used when baking as well as to add a touch of sweetness to savory dishes, dressings, and marinades. Or, you can just drizzle some over fruits for dessert or on pancakes for breakfast.
- Canned coconut milk is useful if you enjoy soups or curries. It can also be used when baking or making desserts. Because it’s canned, it also saves precious room in your refrigerator or cooler.
- Nuts and seeds can tide you over until your next meal or top salads, oatmeal, and other dishes to add texture and nutrition.
- Lemon or lime juice, either fresh or bottled, is essential for adding a fresh zing to marinades, in beverages, on salads, and in various dishes.
Stocking up on versatile ingredients ensures you have the essentials for a wide range of tasty recipes to make meal preparation in a small kitchen easier and more enjoyable.
Must-Have Non-Food Items for Your RV Pantry
Beyond food ingredients, several non-food cooking essentials can be particularly useful in a small RV kitchen as they help maximize space, efficiency, and functionality. These include:
- Multifunctional cookware, such as a Dutch oven (for soups, stews, and even baking bread) and a cast-iron skillet (for frying, sauteing, and baking).
- Space-saving cookware like an Instant Pot or multi-use air-fryer can replace multiple appliances like a crockpot, pressure cooker, grill, and more.
- Collapsible or stackable kitchenware for measuring, mixing, and rinsing as they’re easier to stow.
- A couple of quality, sharp kitchen knives—for instance, a good chef’s knife and a pairing knife can handle almost any cutting task. A magnetic knife strip can save counter and drawer space and keep your knives within easy reach as you prepare meals.
- Cutting board, which can be easily tucked away and/or used as a serving platter or tray.
- Airtight storage containers can be stacked and easily stored in a drawer or cabinet to save any leftovers.
- Creative organizers allow you to see what spices and herbs are available at a glance. Consider magnetic options for an even greater space-saving option.
Don’t forget standard kitchen essentials like measuring spoons and cups; mixing utensils like spatulas, spoons, and whisks; a can and bottle opener; grater and peelers for cheese, vegetables, and fruits; nesting bowls for mixing, serving, and storing foods.
If you have an oven, a small cooking sheet or pan that can slide right in is great for baking, roasting vegetables, or making tray bakes. They can also be used as a serving tray in a pitch. Other overlooked essentials include trivets and pot holders to protect your hands and counter surfaces from hot pots and pans.
These tools can help keep your small kitchen organized and efficient as you prepare a wide range of delicious meals. The key is choosing versatile and compact items to make the most of your limited storage and counter space.
RV Pantry Essentials Takeaway
Having cooking essentials in your pantry is important for convenience, to save costs by preparing your own meals, to eat more healthfully by controlling the ingredients in your recipes, as well as for a sense of normalcy and comfort.
A well-stocked RV pantry can also allow for greater flexibility in meal planning for creative cooks. It can also reduce food waste and better cater to your or your family’s dietary needs and preferences. It can also help you prepare for unexpected delays or situations, ensuring you have enough supplies.
With the supplies above, you can make spaghetti with garlic and oil, tomato basil pasta, one-pot rice dishes (which are even better with added vegetables and chicken or tofu), lentil soup or chili, pancakes or oatmeal, grain or rice and bean bowls, canned fish dishes, baked goods, stir-fries, and so much more!
Having RV pantry essentials on hand can also save time and money as you can shop less often and focus more on enjoying your adventures. And that includes entertaining family, friends, and perhaps guests as you gather to enjoy a home-cooked meal and all your RV lifestyle has to offer.