When it comes to boondocking or RVing without hookups, there are things you can do in every part of your rig that can extend the amount of time you will be able to comfortably live without hookups. Last week I focused on the bathroom; this time we turn towards RV kitchen tips to maximize boondocking time.
Between food prep and storage, cleanups, cooking, and water usage, how you use this area of your RV can have a major impact on how much time you can spend off-grid.
I did not include disposable dishes in this list of RV kitchen tips as the environmentalist in me hates to use them. Also, the foodie in me doesn’t like the way they function as well as real dishes and cutlery. Besides, they leave you with extra trash to dispose of—which is its own problem when boondocking. But if this popular tip works for you, by all means, add it to the arsenal.
It’s not that I am completely averse to disposable products, as evidenced by the list below. But I use them sparingly. When I do use them it is to avoid a big greasy mess, not just simple dishwashing. But that’s me. No judgment if you feel differently.
Of course, many tips I covered in the bathroom article, especially those concerning saving water and bringing extra water, can also help in the kitchen. So be sure to check that article out too.
Here are some of the RV kitchen tips that have allowed me to keep on camping long past when others had to leave:
- Pack and prepare groceries when you buy them and before leaving for your boondocking spot. Get rid of extra packaging now. There are usually trash cans at the market where you can dispose of things. Package meats into portions that make sense for the amount you cook at one time. You might even want to prep further in advance, like in my meal prep chicken ideas.
- Plan meals around the food you buy so that you eat the things that spoil quicker first, and leave hardier foods for later in the trip. For instance, salad greens will wilt and spoil quicker than cauliflower. Plan meals accordingly.
- Save on propane or grill fires by scheduling some no-cook meals such as main dish salads or cold sandwiches.
- Cook 1-pot or 1-pan meals as much as possible. This will reduce cleanup time and water consumption.
- Cook or grill forward. What I mean by this is, think about if there is anything you can make for a future meal while preparing this one. Not only will this save time and propane, you only have to clean the kitchen once. For instance, anytime I have a grill fire going, I try to use it all. Besides whatever the entrée of the day is, I will try to grill up a bunch of vegetables and maybe some chicken or another protein that can be enjoyed the next day or that can be used as ingredients for other meals (for instance, Grilled Veggie Pasta Primavera). The same goes for whenever the oven is on. If I can bake something else at the same time, I do so.
- Save refrigerator space by double-checking that everything in there actually needs to be. Lots of people regularly chill foods that do not actually require refrigeration. Maple syrup, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and high acid foods like vinegars, steak sauces and mustards come immediately to mind. Even ketchup is good for a month or so outside of the fridge.
- Start your trip with extra potable water in the fridge, if there is room.
- If you need extra refrigerator space, a cooler chest and ice can help you pack a few more days of groceries. Eat these first, of course.
- Cover your pots while cooking or waiting for water to boil. They heat quicker this way and use less propane.
- Wait until you have a bunch of dishes to do as you can clean all with less water than washing each item as you use it. (I LOVE this one. Now I have a legitimate excuse to be lazy and let the dishes pile up… within reason.)
- Use a napkin, paper towel, or rag to dry-scrub dishes before putting them in the sink for washing. Getting as much food, crumbs, and other debris off as possible will make cleanup faster and keep these things from going down the drain, which can result in stinky gray water.
- Use as little soap as possible, as less soap equals less rinsing.
- To that end, check out Dawn Powerwash. A small, quick spray when dishes go in the sink and they are pretty much ready for rinsing, drying, and cabinets later.
- Get a small bucket that fits in your kitchen sink and use it to wash the dishes. After dishes, store the bucket in the shower or tub and use the leftover soapy dishwater for toilet flushing.
- Collect the water that runs while you are waiting for hot water to come on in the same bucket.
- An alternate to washing dishes in the sink is to take that bucket outside. Your handheld outdoor shower does a great job of rinsing dishes and that water won’t be going into the gray tank.
- Use disinfecting cleaning wipes for cleaning counters, stove, and fridge to save water.
- Using aluminum foil, pan liners, and roasting bags can reduce cleanup, especially greasy cleanup which would otherwise take lots of soap and water.
Do you have more off-grid RV kitchen tips that extend your boondocking time? Be sure to drop your favorites in the comments below.
Happy boondocking everyone!
I use a bucket of grey water to put out the campfire when going to bed or leaving the campsite.
Great suggestions Cheri. If we have a cool day and a fire pit burning, it is a great opportunity for using a Dutch oven buried with some hot coals. Saves fuel and is a treat whether it is for biscuits or corned beef and cabbage. The weight of the heavy pot is worth it to us.
We don’t dry camp much but when we do…
We save by using foil trays with parchment for indoor baking and foil pans, lined with parchment for casseroles.
I cook bacon on a double layer of foil with edges turned up creating a pan on the grill. No pan to clean and the unwanted grease goes in the trash once its cooled and solid.
Mix Caesar salad in NEW small trash bags.
Great suggestions Cheri, a huge part of my fun meter with boondocking is planning out all of the meals.
I have definitely cut back on the paper plates and plastic forks, etc. Thanks for sharing.
Curious…You mentioned a lot of condiments that is posted on the bottles to refrigerate. I wonder if that differs from brand to brand, due to ingredients?
Comment: pancake syrup needn’t be refrigerated. Pure maple syrup will mold if not kept in the fridge.
Great tips Cheri,
I usually start a meal in my 12volt Hot Logic as I leave a store or my last stop, and have a hot meal when I get to the location I am staying.
I prefer to use the heavier paper plates, but don’t use plastic cutlery since they break easy. Prefer not to waste water washing dishes.
Same here. Real cutlery and quality paper plates.
Like you, I do not routinely use disposable plates/cutlery. I tried Dawn powerwash last summer and LOVE it. Cannot believe how well it works and how much less soap I
actually used. Good article and good tips. Thanks!