Monday, December 4, 2023


Readers debate: What’s the best time to pack food and consumable supplies into your RV?

Packing for an RV trip can be stressful in and of itself. You want to make sure to take along everything you’ll need. A packing list like this one can certainly help. That’s just the beginning. There’s food and other consumable supplies to be purchased and packed, too. When is the best time to put those things into your RV?

Two distinct opinions

Turns out, there’s quite a debate on this topic. Some RVers prefer to purchase and pack food and other consumable supplies into their RV before starting out on their trip. Other campers strongly feel that it’s better to wait and buy food and consumable supplies once they arrive at their destination.

Pack ‘em before you leave

Michelle spoke first. “I like to pack all our food and supplies before leaving home. With the high cost of fuel, we’ve cut back on eating out. With supplies already in the coach, we can stop and eat whenever we get hungry.”

Dan agreed. “Once we leave our driveway, I’m on vacation. I don’t want to think about grocery shopping or hunting for RV toilet paper once I’m on the road. I definitely think it’s better to pack everything before!”

Barb also likes to pack food and supplies before the trip begins. “It saves time to shop where I know the store layout. Who wants to spend one minute of vacation grocery shopping? Not me!”

Miles pointed out, “After a long day of driving our RV, I’m tired. Then there’s getting parked, setting up, and unpacking clothes, etc. That’s when I’m really happy to have packed supplies and food before the trip started!”

Get food and consumable supplies when you arrive

Alan spoke up, “What you are all forgetting is that food and other stuff adds weight. Instead of hauling that extra weight all the way to your destination, just buy stuff when you get there.”

Tony voiced concern over the additional weight to his rig, as well. “Folks, there are Walmart stores everywhere! We’ve always been able to find what we need. Besides, who knows what the weather will be? We’ve had travel days where we left home in a freezing rain and ended up grilling steaks in 80-degree weather! If you wait to buy food, you can buy what you feel like eating when you arrive.”

Darci added, “Part of the adventure of RVing is discovering different foods in other parts of the country. I like to wait and see what the locals like to eat, so we usually wait.”

Mary agreed. “I enjoy shopping. Finding new local products is fun for me. That’s why I usually wait until I arrive at our destination before purchasing food and other supplies.”

Undecided but flexible

Mike spoke up. “We’ve done it both ways. Prices at little grocery stores can charge a lot more than I pay at our local Costco. I don’t like the idea of adding extra weight to our travel trailer, though.”

Dawn suggested the group try what she has found most successful. “Before we leave home, I order food and other supplies online. I schedule pick up the day we plan to arrive at our destination. We swing through the Walmart parking lot on our way to the campground.”

What’s your plan? Do you buy food and other supplies before you leave or after you arrive at your destination? Tell us in the comments below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



3.7 7 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Troy B. (@guest_218566)
10 months ago

Always before. Helps us to avoid eating out en route. When one is a planner, it also eases the anxiety of what you’ll have access to. We still leave room for “local flair” but nice to have fallbacks as needed

Dan F (@guest_218546)
10 months ago

I like to pick before. the weights not the issue, its the running and forgetting at the store on the way up as you rush through it to get items. Coming from a big city we get way better pricing on goods locally compared to a small town. We do like to support local and try to eat out 2x or 3x on week long trips and buy local brews and wines while in the region. This year we will be smoking briskets and other items on the Trip. I prefer to be a campfire watcher and cook and relax hardly inside our camper other than late at night or if it rains.

Vanessa (@guest_218262)
10 months ago

I cook and freeze meals at home. Fill up the RV freezer with about 21 days of meals (I eat only once a day) and put a weeks worth in the fridge to thaw. Two years ago I spent three weeks traveling from NV to GA and spent less than $7 eating out. I bought some fruit and vegetables along the way, oh yes and some girl scout cookies. I’m just not a big fan of spending money on mediocre to bad food and having a stocked freezer makes it easy to eat on the go.

Annie (@guest_218254)
10 months ago

I’m a planner, and I plan out our meals for each day. Our fridge is tiny, so it can only hold about 3 days worth of food for 4 people. I also bring as much canned/pantry type foods as I can, but again, we have a pop up so it’s limited on space. I plan to go to grocery stores every 3 days or so, so we can restock. Sometimes meals go out the window – like when we were at Arches, boondocking and it was over 100, and we ended up throwing out the food in the fridge because the fridge got too warm. Plus, who wants to cook in that heat?

Dennis G. (@guest_218249)
10 months ago

We pack both staple foods, and a variety of on-the-road snacks. The reason is we often stop mid-day and make lunch in a rest stop, or scenic pullout. But, no matter how well we pack, there is always something we forget, like dijon bbq sauce, or marshmallows, and chocolate.

TanyaL (@guest_218240)
10 months ago

We provision before we leave and I do some meal planning. Sometimes I also prep a few crock pot dump meals to freeze before we leave home for those days that we really don’t feel like cooking. I prefer to put in a little extra work before we leave so I can relax while we’re away. Since we tend to take pretty long trips, we do end up having to grocery shop at some point, but it’s mostly for a few perishables or a meal we have a craving for. I find that the meal planning helps a lot. It gives us lots of meal choices while cutting down on having lots of random and unneeded food packed.

Diane Mc (@guest_218220)
10 months ago

We are leaving for at least 2 months tomorrow. We pack things for the road trip..we take about 10 days to go from CA to FL…and we empty our freezer/refrigerator into the motorhome (we do start paring down our food purchases and try to consume everything before we leave, doesn’t always work out). We definitely like to try the different cuisines in different areas, we have our favorite restaurants along the way and at our destination. But, as we are gone for 2 months we don’t eat out every day. Even grocery stores have unique items in different areas. We enjoy shopping in local groceries.

KellyR (@guest_218187)
10 months ago

Even if we go on a 1000 mile trip in the car, no less our RV, we pack in some sort of food or survival stuffs. I guess no one has ever spent the night in a snow drift waiting for the plows to come thru, or have come upon a town that has just been wiped out by a tornado with nothing open, or had a clutch cable go out in the middle of nowhere. We pack before we leave. AND we don’t necessarily have a planned destination – other than to get back home.

DPJ (@guest_218183)
10 months ago

I load the trailer before we go. Oil, condiments are ready to go. If we are going to be gone a longer time of course we stock up along the way.

MattD (@guest_218176)
10 months ago

Groceries don’t weigh that much, so that’s not an argument to me…my concern is keeping everything cold enough while traveling, so we just buy just enough perishables for the first one or two traveling days, then go to a grocery and stock up with the rest of the perishables. That way, the fridge is stabilized once we’re at our destination.

Bud (@guest_218152)
10 months ago

The last thing I worry about is traveling with all the extra 25 lbs of groceries so we prepack everything. The 5th wheel already has everything we need in it. (Emergency get away if needed). The only thing we put in every trip is food. Plug the RV into the house the day before, turn on the fridge, load it and go!

Phyllis (@guest_218144)
10 months ago

Boon dock
off grid

Phyllis (@guest_218142)
10 months ago

We camp in a 22* Prowler trailer. I keep it turned on all the time as we also use for extra sleeping for family . I have containers of pre packaged food , canned veges, soups etc. in the storage area. The fridge & freezer are filled with the mayo etc. When ready to leave i put in the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, potatoes the trailer. Since we BOON DOCK and aren’t really close to stores i have to carry with me all that i might need. Use a cooler for the soda & juice’s. We are usually out for at least 10 days at a time so need to be prepared.

Tony R (@guest_218109)
10 months ago

We travel with a 27 foot TT so space, while more than adequate for the 2 of us, is at a premium. We prefer to pack enough consumables for the first 7 days of our travels buying what we need as we go.

Bill Forbes (@guest_218105)
10 months ago

Our motorhome is pretty much ready to roll at all times when we’re at home. The fridge is turned off, but all the refrigerated staples (Ketchup, mustard, soda, etc.) are in a crate in an indoor refrigerator ready to move into the motorhome, same with the freezer. Between work and weather, we never know when we’ll be on the road tomorrow. Milk and eggs we can buy at our destination or on the way.

Irene D (@guest_218077)
10 months ago

I do both…pack some food for on the road, but stay flexible to try local places, or because I am a Harvest Host member, buy products from places I boondock. If I break down, or have to stop for repairs, or am far from any stores (NV), I have food available. When I cook at home I often make extras and freeze the extras, that I put in the RV refrigerator just before leaving on a trip, along with frozen bottles of water so I always have ice cold water to drink. It keeps everything cold when on the road, and is defrosted and ready to eat when I get to my destination. What little food I pack doesn’t add up to enough weight to worry about.

Sharon Tagle (@guest_218070)
10 months ago

We have a 30 amp plug so we plug in the RV a few days before our departure, do a big food shopping, and unload the perishables right into the fridge.

Bud (@guest_218170)
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Tagle


Greg A. (@guest_218064)
10 months ago

For us, it mostly depends if we plan a weekend or week of menu’s. If we know what we are eating, then we tend to stock up before we leave. Sometimes we feel more adventurous to try local fare and wing it on meals cooked at the campsite. Then we shop at the locale.

Jane (@guest_218049)
10 months ago

I am one of those who packs before we leave. Right now we are 9 days into a 7-week trip and we still have food for a couple more days. After that, we will be fine to shop locally as we wander. I do not carry canned goods, but mostly frozen and fresh. The only thing we seem to run out of early are the adult beverages, so we look for local brews along the way.

Lonewolf (@guest_218040)
10 months ago

Having everything on board before we pull out of the driveway is the reason from day one we opted for a class A. It has gotten even better with our current DP and its 20-cube residential fridge and large pantry which gives us more than enough room for our food supplies.

Before we head out we sit down and make a list of not only what we’ll want to take for meals and snacks, but since we are “camping” how are we going to cook what we bring. This includes our Coleman Roadtrip propane grill, a small Weber charcoal grill, the induction cooktop (primarily used for pasta), or an open fire. Nothing beats breakfast cooked outdoors regardless of temps.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.