RV Kitchen Essentials: What To Bring & What To leave Behind

RV Kitchen Essentials: What To Bring, What Not To Bring

When packing for a trip in your RV, it can be tempting to bring along the entire contents of your kitchen cabinets at home.

But do you really need that bread maker you last used in 2014?

By taking stock of what you’ll need in your RV kitchen before you hit the road, you’ll be sure to have everything you need without being weighed down by items you won’t use.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some essential pieces of equipment for your RV kitchen as well as some items we think you definitely won’t need during your road trips.

Be sure to check out our list of must-have kitchen appliances for your camper.

What To Bring

RV Kitchen Essentials: What To Bring, What Not To Bring

While you definitely want to avoid overpacking, you also need to make sure you’ve got everything you need to cook up a storm while you’re RVing.

Bear in mind that your essentials could look quite different from anyone else’s.

If you make smoothies every morning at home, then you’ll definitely want to bring along a blender for all those fruits and veggies. Some other RVer might prioritize their crockpot/slow cooker if they enjoy doing meal prep before heading out for the day.

Making a list of everything you use in your home kitchen for the duration of one week can be quite helpful. This will give you a great idea of your most frequently used kitchen items and help you decide what to pack and what to leave behind. Then you can create a checklist for the things you really need.

Read on for our recommended list of kitchen essentials no RVer should hit the road without.

Oven And Refrigerator Thermometers

refrigerator thermometer RV

As far as we’re concerned, a set of thermometers for your oven and refrigerator is vital for your RV.

Here’s why.

Many RV ovens are powered by propane gas, which can lead to an uneven temperature distribution.

In addition to this, most temperature gauges on propane ovens are inaccurate, meaning you’re looking at potential baking disasters.

By using a relatively cheap oven thermometer, you can make sure your oven is heating up to the correct temperature. This, combined with rotating your pan during baking, will help your dishes cook evenly.

RV refrigerators are generally designed to run on both AC power and propane gas. These are known as 2-way refrigerators. Also available are 3-way refrigerators, which run on AC power, gas, and DC power.

Most of these have a switch allowing you to select the power source you want to use. Alternatively, you can leave the switch in the auto position to automatically change between the available options.

The advantage of this is that when you’re boondocking, you can switch to gas which will considerably reduce your power consumption.

One disadvantage is that in hot weather conditions or at high altitudes, gas-powered fridges can struggle to maintain the correct temperature. If you don’t keep an eye on this, you can end up with spoiled food.

By using a refrigerator thermometer, you can monitor the temperature of both your refrigerator and your freezer. Your best bet is to buy a twin pack of thermometers so you can leave one in each compartment. Aim to keep your refrigerator temperature between 34 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and your freezer at between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cast Iron Skillet Set

Cast iron Skillets

When it comes to pots and pans for your RV cooking sessions, investing in a high-quality cast iron skillet set is a great idea.

You can use these stackable items of cookware on your stovetop, in your oven, and on an open fire (yes, you can take them outside).

One of the many great things about cast iron cookware items is that the more you use them, the better they become. This means that you can look forward to cooking with your skillets for a really long period of time. You can also include a griddle that doubles as a lid and complete your collection with silicone handle covers, pot holders, and scrapers.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time in your motorhome kitchen, then we strongly advise you to consider bringing your Instant Pot along. This electric pressure cooker can easily save the day when you’re not really in the mood for cooking.

Compact Spice Rack

Compact Spice Rack in a RV

Just because you’re cooking in a small space doesn’t mean you can’t knock up a gourmet meal.

However, it does mean that you need to get creative with your storage ideas in order to fit in all the herbs and spices you use on a regular basis.

Using a compact spice rack is an awesome space-saving idea. If you don’t want to ruin your RV décor, you’ll be glad to learn that there is a wide range of designs to choose from. Make the most of any small storage space by arranging spice and herb jars on a neat metal rack.

You can also create a DIY rack using magnetic jars. These hexagonal jars interlock together, creating a beautiful design while freeing up valuable cupboard space while sticking to any steel surface.

With any spice-and-herb rack, it’s smart to buy empty jars and fill them up with the herbs and spices you have at home. That way, you’ll end up with an RV spice rack full of flavors that you know you’ll actually use.

Nesting Bowl Set / Collapsible Bowls

nesting bowls

Finding space in your motorhome kitchen for every mixing bowl and colander you use at home will be almost impossible.

Instead, consider investing in a set of nesting bowls.

These sets come with strainers, colanders, measuring cups, and mixing bowls, all packed into the space that one large bowl would normally take up.

Another option is to use a set of collapsible bowls, which are made of soft silicone and designed to concertina down flat when they’re not in use.

Either of these options will help you maximize the available space in your RV.

Kitchen Timer

kitchen timer

You might be used to using the integrated timer on your oven at home, safe in the knowledge that it will alert you when dinner is ready.

Unfortunately, many RV ovens don’t come equipped with timers.

This means that if you put dinner in the oven and go outside to take care of some RV chores, you could easily lose track of time.

By the time you remember you have food in the oven, it will have burned to a crisp.

Invest in a cheap kitchen timer to avoid such situations. It won’t take long for you to get into the habit of setting it every time you cook.

Coffee Making Equipment

Compact Coffee Maker Capsule

For so many of us, one of the very first thoughts, when we wake up in the morning, is a nice cup of coffee. You’ll probably want to enjoy your morning cup of joe in your RV as well, but you might want to consider making it in a slightly different way when you’re on the road.

A capsule coffee maker is a great, compact choice. Compact models are single-serve coffee makers, reducing the chances of having a half-used pot of coffee on your countertop when you’re ready to set off in your camper. They use pods to minimize waste, combined with the ability to change the coffee strength.

These RV kitchen gadgets also dispense hot water, which is a huge plus for those who enjoy tea and/or hot chocolate.

Investing in a French press is a smart choice too. This coffee brewing device saves both counter space and electricity. Bodum French presses always win our vote and are perfect for keeping your coffee hot on lazy mornings.


Preparing your favorite meals in your camper kitchen can be so much fun, but to be able to do it more than once, you have to buy several important kitchen accessories.

It’s always helpful to have a few paper towel rolls in your camper kitchen so you can clean up the mess after your cooking sessions (especially if children were involved).

Speaking of cleaning up, you’ll also need a trash can. We believe opting for a stainless steel one is a smart decision because these cans are long-lasting and often come with a warranty. Amazon is a great place to look for stainless steel trash cans, but you can find amazing options at Walmart too.

If you don’t want to use single-use plastic plates and cutlery during your RV adventures, you might want to purchase a drying rack. Dish drainers are particularly useful for those who practice full-time RV living.

That’s our round-up of kitchen items you should definitely consider packing in one form or another for your next RV trip.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the things you can and should leave behind.

What To leave behind

It won’t take you long to realize that you can easily get by with far fewer items in your RV kitchen than the number of gadgets you have at home, so don’t be tempted to overpack.

Having too much stuff in your RV kitchen can be as frustrating as not having enough.

Searching through drawers and cupboards full of things you don’t need and creating extra washing up by using five utensils instead of two can easily make your trip less enjoyable.

Consider leaving certain things at home to cut down on washing up and packing. This will leave you more time for fun indoor and outdoor activities with your family and friends.

To help you with this part of the packing process, here’s our list of items we suggest leaving at home.

An Entire Flatware Set

Entire Flatware Set

It can be tempting to bring along your entire silverware set when heading off in your RV but, trust us, you won’t need it.

Less flatware means more drawer space and less pressure on your RV tires.

Consider packing enough cutlery for each passenger and perhaps one spare set.

If you decide to invite your new RV-loving friends over for dinner, ask them to bring their own cutlery. We’re sure they won’t mind!

You should consider packing a nice bamboo flatware set, which, in addition to taking up hardly any space, is lightweight, reusable, and environmentally friendly!

Unless you’re a full-time RVer, we suggest leaving behind your favorite wine glasses as well. You can always drink from a mug or a regular glass.

A Fully Stocked Pantry

Don’t grab all the grocery items in your pantry at home and transfer them to your RV.

You might end up with loads of heavy cans of soup when you’re on a summer RV adventure and that’s the last thing you feel like eating.

Instead, create a meal plan for your trip and stock items only for the first week of the trip.

Wherever you plan on traveling, you’re bound to find a store nearby that you can use to stock up on fresh supplies.

Using a magnetic dry erase weekly meal planner is our favorite way to stay organized.

Unnecessary Kitchen Appliances

Unnecessary Kitchen Appliances in a RV

Before packing your food processor, blender, and toaster, think about whether you’ll use them and how often.

You might enjoy baking cakes and cookies at home, but it’s not very likely that you’ll use your food processor to whip up a cake dough while you’re on an RV adventure.

Oftentimes, a stick blender with multiple attachments can serve as a multi-purpose appliance that’s suitable for making smoothies and chopping nuts and herbs for salads.

If in doubt, we suggest leaving those kitchen appliances at home during your first RV trip.

If you find yourself missing them desperately, you can bring them along next time you hit the road.

Duplicate Items

You might have enough space in your home kitchen that it doesn’t really matter if you’ve got three colanders and ten wooden spoons. However, in your RV, cupboard space is at a premium.

Make sure you only pack what you need and remember that a sieve can double as a colander. Plus, you only need one of each type of chopping knives.

Round Storage Containers

round storage containers

This suggestion might come out of left field, but bear with us and you’ll see why we think it’s an important consideration!

In your RV kitchen, every inch counts.

It’s unlikely that you’ll have the luxury of too much space.

That means you need to pack intelligently.

One of our favorite ways to maximize the available space in your kitchen cupboards is to avoid round storage containers.

Round containers leave space gaps when stacked, which means you’re not utilizing all the available space.

As an alternative, we suggest using square or rectangular airtight containers to store food items in your RV.

There are plenty of online and brick-and-mortar stores that sell square and rectangular sets that stack together and come in a variety of sizes.

Safety Considerations

Fire extinguisher in a RV

This is a slightly boring but extremely important section!

When equipping your RV kitchen, it’s crucial not to overlook the most important safety considerations. This is how you’ll make sure your trip is not only enjoyable but safe too.

Make sure to bring along an extra fire extinguisher and locate it within your kitchen area.

Familiarize yourself with the ways of using a fire extinguisher and whether or not it needs periodic testing.

Also, make sure you pack sensibly — consider how the movement of your RV will affect bottles and jars.

Place heavy items in well-secured bottom cupboards.

The Perfect Kitchen

A well-thought-out RV kitchen can be a joy to cook in.

It’ll provide everything you need within easy reach, plus all the herbs and spices you love using to create flavorsome and memorable meals, with just the right amount of equipment.

Taking the time to carefully plan the kitchen essentials for your RV allows you to eat well with minimum fuss and, more importantly, enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

If you know of any essential items we haven’t covered in this article, or any tips on what else to leave behind, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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