Saturday, September 30, 2023


The Business of Work Camping – Where to put the groceries in an RV? – Part 1

By Sam Suva

Did we once think there was no place to cook or store food in an RV? We needed to think again. One of the most common questions we get is, “How do you prepare a meal in an RV? It’s such a tiny refrigerator and there is no counter space!” Well, it was a learning curve, but keep reading – the answers surprised us too!

We lived in a 2400-square-foot house with a 1500-square-foot garage. We had plenty of room for a large refrigerator, lots of cabinets and a spot for a chest-type deep freezer or two. Our RV has 8 square feet of refrigerator space and about 8 cabinets, a third of the size of the house cabinets. Fortunately our strong desire to get on the road overcame our shock at the relatively small amount of room for food storage and preparation.

The key was to live in the RV while transitioning from our house. By splitting our time between the RV and the house, storing, preparing, cooking and eating food, we found that that is the best way to overcome obstacles to RV living. Doing this while having the home resource a short walk away proved to be just what we needed to make it a success. If you do not have an RV yet, we’ll take you along with us in this article.

How much room do we need for food? We started with one meal at a time. The day we moved in the RV we brought just enough food for the next meal from our sticks-and-bricks house. We were in our driveway so the grocery “store” was not terribly far away. The RV became an extension of our food storage, not something we had to stock in addition to our home. Previously we had purchased food items for the RV, for the trip, then removed those items from the RV and put them in the house. This was going to be very different. Once the food items were removed from the cabinets, the refrigerator and the freezer, these would not return, at least not by us.

The overhead cabinets above the sink in the kitchen area have coffee, condiments like salt and pepper, some fruit and nuts and cereal. It also has plates, bowls and serving dishes. We also have some medication that we have to remember to take each morning. These cabinets have “at hand” items – those items frequently used.

The spice drawers have all sorts of different spices. It is important when purchasing these to remember that some spice containers will fit perfectly upright and others will have by laid down. The top spices we use are garlic, allspice, onion powder, cinnamon and a homemade spicy seasoning. Of course that does not stop us from having two full drawers of spices when the creative urge overtakes us.

Under the dinette booths we have canned goods and baking supplies along with extra pans, sheets and bins for cooking. Above the dinette we have protein powder, additional baking supplies and blenders.

Now that we have purchased and stored everything we need, let’s make a meal. That will be the topic in our next article. Please be sure to comment on what you have read here. I look forward to your thoughts on this topic or any other thoughts you may have. Do you have a way to store food items in your RV that is interesting? Please let us know in the comments below.

See you down the road,


Sam Suva and his wife are work campers. They began work camping more than 10 years ago and have spent a lot of time working as they traveled. In this new weekly feature, they will share their experiences with you, with an emphasis on how to incorporate work camping into a full time RV lifestyle.

Read more articles about Work Camping.



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4 years ago

I agree that storage and counter space is minimal in most RVs. That is one of many reasons why we decided to build our own RV. We have plenty of cabinets for storing food, we have a 10 cu ft residential refrigerator, and a 6-foot counter with a sink (about 4.5 feet of working space). We can store enough food, to include fresh fruits/vegies to last 2 weeks. For us, that’s a perfect amount of time to then venture into a new town, have lunch at a local cafe, and stock up for another two weeks. Happy camping!

4 years ago
Reply to  19KC69

Hello 19KC69, we too have found we can store a healthy variety of the major food groups including fresh fruit and vegetables for 2 weeks. I hope you can share your design ideas, I am confident they would be met with great interest.

4 years ago

We have a small slide out pantry, narrow for row of can goods and spices. Under this was a blank space so I fashioned a drawer to match the cabinets and now have extra can goods storage. We have a corner style sink cabinet which was hard to get into the back. Again made a deep drawer that reaches to the back. We were having trouble storing potatoes so I glued up some thick foam to make a insulated box and use ice packs to keep them cold and keep it in this cabinet. Underneath we bought a mini freezer from wally world and that allows us to double up on frozen foods. We try to keep meals simple and use grill outside so not to have to do a lot of food prep in tiny kitchen.

4 years ago
Reply to  robert

Hi Robert, Great idea! It seems there is a small amount of space in our RV’s where a little DIY rewards us with precious cargo space!

4 years ago

First thing we did when we downsized (40A to 30C) was to purchase small roll-about carts (check craft stores). We use two of those as our “rolling pantry.” They fit nicely at the front near the cab when not in use, and can easily be tied down when travelling. Two storage ottomans hide our appliances: small instant pot, small electric fry pan, convection toaster oven and coffee pot.

We keep the stove cover in place to get extra counter space, and instead I use the above three appliances for everything: (There is also a built-in microwave). No extra pots/pans. During nice weather, we set up our screen tent as an outdoor kitchen for cooking; everything but the microwave can be easily moved out there — keeps rig cooler and odors down.

We buy small versions of items (even though we do pay a few pennies more), and as we use items, we downsize into smaller containers when possible. For fridge, a small can of OJ takes up less space than a quart jar: just make one glass at a time. No egg cartons: I boil some and the rest get whipped together and put into one container: 1/4 c = one medium egg. Mini cargo nets hold fruit. Oven mitts hung on hooks hold cooking utensils in their pockets. Spices are minimal, with a few “blends” to cover the bases.

For us it was a matter of rethinking “normal.” It has taken a few years to adjust. It’s not quite like home, but works well for is.

4 years ago
Reply to  Brenda

How long does your egg mixture last in your refrigerator? I like the idea of no egg cartons.

Noel Johnson
4 years ago

About storing stuff and food. Remember that the upper cabinets can get MUCH warmer than cabinets or storage lower down. Try to put items that the heat will not hurt in the upper cabinets, use the lower or other items. We put bread in the uppers, because the heat keeps it fresher(for a bit). Some canned goods, whatever.

Sam Suva
4 years ago
Reply to  Noel Johnson

Great reminder thanks! The heat comes from the sun/outside temperature and from the microwave/convection oven not properly vented. Warm bread is delicious!

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