While our family would consider ourselves resourceful, around our house having the right tool for the job is considered a must.
Over the 6 years that we have been fulltime RVing and traveling, I have found this rule especially applies to the RV kitchen! Cooking for 10+, in such a limited space, 3 meals a day, can be a challenge. Add in a lack of appropriate and convenient tools, and it can be downright frustrating!
I looked around to find my top 5 small RV kitchen tools – items that I probably would not have found/purchased were I still in a sticks & bricks. They are handy whether cooking for 1 or 11…
*this post does include affiliate links for reference information, and when the Amazon price is the best over what is typically available in local stores. If you chose to purchase through our links, thank you! – it helps us put a little more fuel in our tanks!
Collapsible Colander – Between rinsing off fruit, draining pasta, and even rinsing off seashells, we need a colander quite often, but the traditional ones take up too much cupboard space for our limited rv kitchen. I was so glad when I found decent sized collapsible colanders. We are on our second colander, and while they don’t last forever (our last one cracked along a fold seam after 5 years), the space saving and ease of use features make them worth replacing now and again. Collapsible colanders come in all shapes and sizes. We love the large capacity, and the hands free features of the expandable sink designs (the end handles pull out to accommodate even larger sized opening sinks). This time around we have a Squish Over The Sink Colander (we didn’t get it through Amazon; I used a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath and Beyond).
Dry Foods Storage Containers – With limited storage space in both our cupboards and our fridge, we have chosen to go with all square storage bins and containers. Square storage minimizes the wasted space that you normally get between items in round containers. I love rectangular shaped bins as I can arrange them in a fashion that allows me to view more containers and what is in them.
For our room temperature storage of items like rice, I chose to replace all my Tupperware Modular Mates with Rubbermaid Modular Canisters. I love the vertical design of the Rubbermaid containers; I can easily pull items from my pantry without having to unstack containers, and at a glance I can see what I have and what I am running low on. I customized my shelf spacing, then choose specific canister heights to maximize my storage space. These containers are also readily available, individually, at most big box stores.
Nesting Fridge Storage Containers (tho these are multi-use!) – Around here, it is definitely not considered rude to take the last of a food item at a meal. In fact, it will earn you brownie points because in large family RV life, there is no room for leftovers (have you seen the inside of my fridge?!?). However, despite my efforts to not prepare too much food, sometimes not all of a meal gets eaten. In those instances I love my 10 piece Joseph Joseph Food Storage Container Set – I wish they would have had this JJ 12-Piece Set when I ordered mine! When not in use, the containers nest together, including the lids, on top, and recessed for ease of stacking/finding, so they fit great in my limited cupboard space, and the container bases have a color coded dot on the bottom for easy reference when looking for the right sized lid.
*Joseph Joseph products are fabulous for RVing! Many of them are space saving, and I find their products to be of good quality. You can find more Joseph Joseph kitchen products here.
Folding Trivets – I have struggled with serving food in the rv. In our sticks & bricks, I would transfer foods out of their cooking pots and into pretty serving bowls that set on the table. Now, in the rv, we typically eat buffet style. I no longer have (or desire) all those fancy serving dishes, but placing hot pots and pans on our counter tops was not ideal either. I don’t have room for heavy trivets, and don’t care to keep a bunch of oven mits that are not ideal for the job either. Thankfully I discovered a couple of space saving, and lightweight trivets that I have fallen in love with!
The Joseph Joseph Stretch is an expandable trivet. It is very compact and lightweight, but extends to protect your counters from the largest cassarole pans or full sized cookie sheets. In the rv, it can even be extended to use under 2 smaller pots! When you are finished, simply push it back together, and stand it in a drawer for easy access! I can’t believe I lived without this fab tool our first years on the road; if you are looking for a unique gift for an RVer, this is it!!! Available in green, black, and pink.
My second favorite trivet, and super inexpensive, is the Zing brand of silicone folding trivets. Available in 5 different colors, this folding trivet is super compact and easy to store and use. Heat resistant up to 500 degrees, and leaving plenty of room between your counter and the scorching hot bottom of your pan, these trivets are great for using under pots, pans, and cookware dishes. I fold mine up and slide them, with the round center down, in the corner of a drawer next to my stovetop so they are easy to find and grab. (tip: you do not want to get these from amazon as they are around $13, but they are only $6.99 at BB&B)
Good quality, sheathed knives – While I LOVE the magnetic knife bar that hangs on the wall near my stovetop, I do not keep all my knives on it. Those that end up in a drawer can either be a pain to find, take up too much room if you give them their own bin, or a stabbing hazard as you search for other items. I chose knives with sheaths so that I can toss them in with my other small kitchen tools in my limited drawer space; the sheathes protect my hands (and the girls’!) while we are rummaging through the drawer, and the bright colors make them easy to find. As a bonus, when you can always find your favorite knife, there is no reason to have a dozen of them, like many of us (ahem!) did in our houses!
The knives that I use the most are my Kuhn Rikon Paring and Serrated Knives
and my Zyliss 5.5-Inch Kitchen Knife.
There are a lot of fun ‘designed-for-camping rv’ items out there, but if you are an avid camper, or a fulltime RVer, often times you are much farther ahead just going with quality household kitchen product – just make wise choices to stay within your weight limits and keep in consideration that the less clutter that you have, the easier it will be to find your tools and keep your small kitchen organized!
While this has focused on small items that you will find convenient for your kitchen, my favorite (albeit, rather large) kitchen tool of all time is still my all-in-1 cooker. If you are interested in learning more about our rv kitchen, you can read about my fetish with my Instant Pot here.