Why We Decided Not to Fully Renovate Our RV

image of a camper kitchen table

I love seeing all the images and stories of people who fully renovated their RV or camper. It’s super inspiring and the images make me swoon. But, after much deliberation, we decided not to fully renovate our RV. The discussion lasted for many months even before we fully paid for this thing.

Ultimately, it came down to a few reasons. Some are more serious than others. We’re still going to do some renovations, but we won’t be tearing walls down or removing whole pieces of furniture.

No matter how much I want to do that.

Why We Decided Not to Fully Renovate Our RV

#1 We live in this thing full time

Gutting even a portion of it would throw our whole home into a disarray. Ask me how I know?

We’ve started painting our living/kitchen area and just from the few days of painting our living area gets completely trashed. Not literal trash all over the place, but just the shifting of all the things we have to move. It was a wreck for two days before I told my husband we had to pause painting so I could have a little sanity.

Related Post: Top RV Homestead Kitchen Items You Need

#2 We have water damage

Our humble abode was purchased from my husband’s parents and sadly it ended up having a roof leak. We’ve since sealed the roof, but the damage is done. We discussed it and any removal of walls would likely require an entire overhaul. We aren’t ready for that yet.

We haven’t spotted mold so that’s a good thing, but we’d rather save up for a tiny home on wheels built for us by some magicians than try to hack our way through this thing. I think him and I would be more frustrated by the end than anything.

#3 We’re not handy with woodworking

My husband builds me things from time to time or makes shelves for our cabinets and pantries, but that’s pretty much the extent of things. Neither of us is savvy with building cabinets, beds, couches or whatever so the idea of removing things and building new isn’t a lovely idea.

Related Post: How to Live in a Camper Without Feeling Cramped

What We’re Doing Instead

#1 Painting every wall we can

I hate the drab color that companies use to build RVs and campers. It’s dull, dark and dreary. We’re painting the walls a white or eggshell color and the cabinets will be a darker shade. Right now, I’m torn between a brick red or a steel grey/blue color. That or a sunflower yellow color.

#2 Replacing the folding couch with a solid board

Once we finally take the folding couch off the hinges we are going to get a solid piece of wood to use as a couch. So we’re not sitting on straight board, I’m going to use a padding to make it couch-like and super cushy.

This padding here is what we’ve been looking at on Amazon. It’s 2″ thick, but if I wanted it to be thicker I could double it up. From there I will take some fabric and then staple it to the underside of the board once I’ve reinforced the edge of the fabric.

#3 Putting drawers under our bed

One thing I want to attempt to do is cut our closets beside either side of our bed so we can fit a king size bed in there. But, we’re not sure if the roof is being supported by them or not. My husband said he needs to investigate it first.

So, I told him not to worry about it and that we’d just put drawers in the space under our bed instead. Or build cubbies with shelves. Either way is fine with me. I just want to get creative with storage for clothing so it’s more out of sight/out of mind kind of thing AND organized.

The shelving in our closet space by our beds has been nice, but it’s not the best. I’m also a wee bit picky.

#4 Add shelves under our sink

We’ve added shelves to our pantry area (that was shelf-less for some reason) and we’ve recently added shelving to our kitchen cabinets too. It’s not the prettiest, but it’s super helpful and I love it.

(If you’re reading this baby… thank you!)

Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space

#5 Replace the slide border facing

The slide facing is hideous and has this cloth covered center that I just want to rip off. Thankfully, my husband is going to help me remove the facing so we can put something different on there. I’m thinking about using cedar planks for the siding.

I love the smell of cedar :).

#6 Replace the window covers

The same thing as the slide facing, these window valances have a cloth covering that is just not pretty. I plan to replace it with either oak or cedar planks and then sewing some curtains to replace the current window coverings.

Our couch has some throw pillows with a color combo of sunflower yellow/steel grey. So, I’ll probably stick to that for the living room.

#7 New coverings for the kitchen cushions

I’m not sure why RV companies think the cloth they choose looks good. I really don’t get it. With all the renovations people are doing and posting about on the internet, I would think that companies would get the hint and start aiming for modern looks. But, maybe I’m wrong.

However, the same cloth that covered the valances and the slide siding is covering our kitchen table cushions and seat siding. That will be changed promptly once I bring my sewing machine from the house to the camper. Now I just need to figure out what kind of fabric I want to use to cover my seats.

#8 Using Command Hooks for extra storage

Command Hooks are probably one of THE most important items we’ve bought to renovate our RV camper. These little doo-dads have saved us on more than one occasion.

We have quite a few coffee cups as that’s pretty much what we drink out of besides these lovely mason jars that we love. But, besides using them to hang coffee cups we use them for hanging coats, towels, my hair dryer, a dry brush and so much more.

They’re also something we used to make the shelves in our pantries. We weren’t confident enough to screw anything into the walls in the pantry so we used 4 Command Hooks to place boards on for shelving. So far it has worked beautifully.

Are you contemplating fully renovating your RV? I’d love to see your space transformation.


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How to Find An RV Site for Long-Term Living

image of the inside of an RV

When we decided to camp out in our RV camper before moving for my husband’s new job, we didn’t think we’d be in it full-time long-term. We initially thought we’d live in the RV for a few months (no more than 6 months) before finding an apartment or house to rent. But, one and a half years later we’re still here. We found an RV site for long-term living that we just love to pieces.

image of an RV on a hill in a campground

Thankfully, it also happens to be about 3 miles from my husband’s workplace. We didn’t have any intention of living on a military post, but this option beat the rest of the others out of the water by a long shot. With that being said, we didn’t exactly have a list of “what we want from an RV spot” listed out before searching.

My husband’s job came open, he filled it and we had to move the RV 3 hours south of our home in a matter of two months. We had to make some quick decisions, but if we end up doing it all over again there are a few things we’d look for first.

How to Find An RV Site for Long-Term Living

Finding the perfect place to set up your RV for long-term living can be a little hard. Not impossible, or others wouldn’t be living this lifestyle, but there are some things that you might want to consider.

I am building a business out of our RV and needed a good connection to the internet. That was something we didn’t exactly look for when we decided to stay on this military installation. Thankfully we were able to upgrade to unlimited data with AT&T and it’s been working fairly good.

The best things about this site are that it’s fairly secluded from the military aspect of the post, and it’s right by a lake. We walk down the road about 2-3 minutes and the lake is right there. My kids love to go fishing with their dad on beautiful sunny days.

Related Post: How to Live in a Camper Without Feeling Cramped

But, if we had to find a space to live all over again, here’s a few questions we would ask ourselves first:

#1 Where are we wanting to live?
#2 Do we want to live in the city, near the city or in the country? (for us country is always the top choice)
#3 What activities are near the area?
#4 Exactly how far are we from home?
#5 What kind of grocery store options are near us?
#6 Is there full hook up?
#7 Is it kid friendly?
#8 Is it pet-friendly?
#9 Is there wi-fi or good data coverage?

Most of these we knew the answer to prior to parking our RV, but we didn’t consider living here long-term until we’d been here a while.

While we’re not far from town it’s still a pain to drive 30 minutes to town to grocery shop once a week. We try to plan our grocery days on Farmer’s Market day, but then sometimes we fail that. Typically, the week my husband gets paid we go to the Farmer’s Market on Thursday and then grocery shopping on Saturday.

Where to Find an RV Site For Long-Term Living

The first obvious choice would be either a campground or RV park, but those aren’t always the greatest (in our experience). We visited a few around here and they were kind of funky and didn’t feel really safe enough for the kids. There were a few that weren’t pet-friendly either.

Top Places I’d Look:

#1 Google

By simply Googling RV parks or campgrounds you can find quite a few places to check out. This was how we found all of the places that we visited. We found one place we stayed for about two weeks that was just stunning, but it was 45 minutes from where my husband worked and that killed the option. Thankfully the campground we’re at now is just as pretty.

#2 Craigslist

You can find all sorts of things on Craigslist. Look for people that have spaces on their land that you can use to park your RV. If you can’t find anything then it might be worth a shot to post something saying you’re looking for a spot to rent. List out what you’re looking for.

You never know when someone might take you up on your offer!

#3 FB Groups

If you can find a group on FB that is for the community you’re wanting to live in then click to join. Once you’re approved you can ask questions about the best places to park your RV or even find someone that has hook-ups at their place.

We have a community group for our area here and for back home. It’s pretty neat.

#4 Ask in the community

If there is a Farmer’s Market in your area that would be a great place to connect with others. Strike up conversations and see if they know of any places in town that have great RV sites that allow long-term living. If they don’t know of any their friend’s might and you never know when you might find a perfect space.

#5 When all else fails, Pinterest

Believe it or not, but you can probably find a million resources on Pinterest for finding places to park your RV for long-term living. I’ve seen quite a few posts flying around that talk about the best places to visit if you’re living full-time in your RV. I’m sure most of the places that are listed allow long-term visitors as well.

Why Long-Term and Not Short-Term?

For many, the idea of traveling all over isn’t the most appealing. Ok, that might be a lie actually.

But, the reality is that some folks might want to stay put for longer than 2-3 weeks at a time. Or, maybe they downsized to an RV or tiny home to cut costs and enjoy a closer relationship while saving money or even while building a business.

Traveling full-time isn’t a reality for us right now. My business isn’t to the point where it can sustain us yet, but it is a definite desire for the future. Once it is to that point we may travel, but I really doubt we’d travel full-time. We’re pretty much homebodies and enjoy being on our own land growing food, raising animals and just being with family.

Our RV life will be transitioned to tiny home life at that point. But, for now, long-term RV living with kids is working for us.

Are you living in an RV full-time in a long-term spot? I’d love to hear how you like it!


 

two images; one of an rv at a campsite and the other of a boy raking leaves

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Living Full-Time In An RV: How We’re Starting To Save Money

image of two kids playing in the mud

I won’t lie…

I’m not the best at saving money. It’s tough work when you’re not used to saving. And, when you’re living in an RV full-time it should make saving money easy. But, I’m horrible with money. That’s why I know we have to make changes.

By “we” I really mean me, because my husband is a thrifty spender and if I’m honest he wouldn’t spend anything if it were just him. So, I’m being the big girl and strapping on my budget britches to get serious.

image of a woman working on a laptop

Why Would You Want To Save?

Well, not everyone does want to save when they’re living full-time in an RV. Some people want to use their money to have great experiences. And, that’s amazing!

If you’re like us though, you might want to save to find a house that will truly fit your needs and be something you can settle in to later. Or, you want to have a cushion to fall back on if times ever get hard.

Or, maybe you have kids and you’re saving for college. It’s not cheap to pay for college and if I can help it my kids won’t be burdened with student loans.

Living Full-Time In An RV: How We’re Starting to Save Money

We didn’t start out living full-time in an RV to save money. Well, not exactly. Initially, we were living in our RV until we found a house to rent that wasn’t well over our budget. It just turned into a permanent thing as we became more and more comfortable living full-time in an RV. Our kids were enjoying it too so it wasn’t a priority anymore to find a house.

My husband and I talked about staying in our RV and saving for a down payment on a house for when we were ready. This talk happened a few months ago and I’m sad to say we haven’t really started yet. Life crops up and tries to take things from you.

But, with the very real thought of possibly needing a good chunk saved up for a down payment on anything we’re starting to buckle down. We may not need a down payment if we get a VA Home Loan (that’s one of the perks of a VA loan). So, if we don’t need the down payment, we’ll probably still put money down to help lower the note.

Our First Goals

There aren’t many goals really. Just three steps, but they feel huge and sometimes unattainable. My husband tells me to breathe repeatedly when I go over our bills.

Step One: Get the first truck’s radiator fixed

I’ve been putting this off just filling the tank back up each time it leaks out. The leak isn’t horrible, so I haven’t been prudent about getting it fixed. My husband and I talk about saving to fix it, but then something more important needs to be done.

So, this is me making it known – we’re fixing the radiator first!

Step Two: Pay off one of our vehicles and consider selling.

We could easily pay off one of our trucks in 13 months if we put everything we would be saving towards paying off our truck. So, I’m pretty sure this is our definite second goal. One less payment when we go to buy a house would be great.

Then, if I could convince my husband to sell our other truck to buy a cheaper vehicle that would be awesome. Carrying two truck notes is ok if you’re not trying to buy a house in the next two years or you’re wanting to save money. We’re still talking about this though because my husband loves that truck despite my dislike of it.

Step Three: Save at least $10,000 for a down payment

Since we’re wanting to save for a house this is a number we both agreed on. This will go a lot faster once one of our trucks is paid off. What would have taken us 10-12 months will take drastically less. Meaning we would be right on par with our two-year mark.

How do I figure that? 13 months to pay off the truck plus roughly 6 months to save $10,000 puts us at 19 months which is under two years :).

I just need to really buckle in and make it happen.

How to Save Money Without Going Crazy

#1 Pay Yourself First

This one seems obvious, but can be the hardest thing to do. I tend to pay bills first when I know the paychecks have hit the accounts.

But, now I’m starting to shift money to our savings account to save for Step One above. Once Step One is accomplished the savings money will start going to pay off the truck.

Which, technically, would be “paying a bill” first, but since this is EXTRA going to that bill I’m not classifying it as that. This is to get rid of that bill as fast as possible so that we have that money to put in savings later. Not to mention, the faster we pay off the truck the less we pay in interest. Win-win.

#2 Know When Your Bills Are Due

If you’re not sure when your bills are due and have bills on auto draft it can be a big mess. You need to track when your bills come out of your account or need to be paid each month.

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Related Post: How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV

#3 Eat Out Less

Gah! This is the one that kills me the most. I feel like I resort to the same meals every day and then get really bored. I’m working on it though. Every. Day.

Some days are just hard. We run out of time as we run around town taking care of errands, and by the time I get home, I just want to sit down. It can get crazy pants.

So, we’ve budgeted $100 per check that we can go out to eat. Which typically means one time eating out at some place like Long Horn or a hibachi restaurant. We try to split meals to cut the cost, but after tip, we are generally at $60 and the last $40 we typically spend on extra groceries.

Related Post: A Family of 4: Journey to Frugal Living

#4 Make Up Your Budget Each Check

We tried Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it was just really hard for us. With my husband’s pay schedule our bills rotate between checks every few months. I hate it honestly.

He used to be on a 1st and 15th pay schedule and it was nice. I knew when each bill was coming out of our account and when we were getting paid. With the bi-weekly schedule, I have to be on top of the ball or bills get left unpaid.

One thing I’m using to help me with my budget is my friend Victoria’s money-saving worksheets. She was able to save $15,000 in a year by cutting her food budget alone!

image of a woman holding an ipad

#5 If There Is Leftover Money… Put It In Savings!

Seeing leftover money in the account and not putting it in savings is probably the biggest hurdle I need to overcome. Being real here. I see it and think of all the wonderful things I could buy. This is another reason we’re downsizing more of our stuff and becoming minimalist (stay tuned for that post).

Nevertheless, if you have leftover money at the end of your check and it’s not designated for a specific bill, just put it in savings. OR, leave it in your account and try reallllyyy hard not to touch it. This will help to not only grow your savings account but to also grow your checking account.

Having a decent size checking account is good for emergencies. Sure that’s what an emergency savings account is for, but if you have both an emergency savings account and a built-up checking account you’ll never go wrong.

The next best thing would be to use some of your excess money to pay bills. For us, that means paying off our truck.

Where To Go From Here

Since I have a pretty decent spending issue, I’m challenging myself to not spend money unless it’s absolutely necessary. This means I am consulting my husband and seeking his help to be strong and really decide if I need it.

For instance, I recently dropped our InstaPot (cries) and want to buy another one, but if I was being honest… I could live without it for a good while. I might not like to live without my wildly amazing and super awesome InstaPot, but right now I can.

It’s still able to make rice… we just put the pot outside to cook just in case something were to happen. We don’t want our camper getting blown up or a hole being punched in our roof. Is it wise to still use it? Maybe not, but I think it’s ok for now.

In any case, if it’s not necessary I’m going to try my best to avoid spending money on it. My very first step to being a minimalist, right after cleaning out my kids’ closets to donate their “too small” clothes.


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Full-Time RV Living With Kids + How We Make It Work

When we started talking about full-time RV living with kids we weren’t sure if we would be living in an actual RV or if we were going to buy a tiny home on wheels. We knew either way we went it would be an adjustment for us.

Even though we already lived in a home that was 1000 sq. ft. or less we were still a bit scared to drop to less than 300 sq. ft. of living space. But, we did and I’m going to share from our first year in our RV camper.

It’s not always easy, and there isn’t much space to run and hide. The walls are thin and you can’t block out the high pitched screams of a little girl who isn’t getting her way. It can get cluttered really, really fast and the amount of lego blocks you can step on in 5 minutes still baffles me.

But, being that it is a small area that means the cleanup takes about 1/8-1/4 of the time it would in a 1000+ sq. ft. house.

*raises hands* Thank goodness for that! I hate cleaning, and I’ll be the first to admit that. I clean when I’m mad, but hate cleaning any other time.

Related Post: How To Live In An RV Without Feeling Cramped

Full-Time RV Living With Kids + How We Make It Work

1 Storage

Our house back home was pretty short on storage and I’ve always made due but moving into an RV… that was a different story. Storage is something you have to get creative with and maybe even create.

After being in our RV camper for 1.5 years I can safely say that Command Hooks are the bomb(dot)com. We have some that range from 0.5lb rating up to 5lb rating. They’re super useful for things like hanging coffee cups in the kitchen, hanging towels in the bathroom, and hanging coats in the bedroom. Or you can start hanging Christmas lights around the living/kitchen/dining area for a little ambiance.

Another great thing about Command Hooks is that we’ve been able to put shelving into our cabinets. We just put the 5lb Command Hooks on the walls and cut up a sheet of plywood to fit in the area of our (now) pantry cabinet. Our next step is putting shelves in our cabinets to have more storage for kitchen items.

Aside from using Command Hooks to create storage space in spots we didn’t have before, we’re also going to be converting the space under our bed and my daughters bed into storage. We have space under our couch, but I’m not sure if the couch storage will be there much longer or how we’re going to renovate it.

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2 Toys

Back home our kids had two houses where they had toys – our house and their grandparent’s house. I include the grandparent’s house because it was literally a stone’s throw away. So, when we moved everything into the RV we had to figure out what to do with all their toys.

The toys at their grandparents stayed at their grandparents (says a silent prayer of thanks). However, we had to really pare down on what our kids had to bring. And, honestly, we’re still minimizing the number of toys they have.

Right now we’re using a space above their TV and a basket beside the bed to hold their toys. I’m still considering decreasing their toy collection and being very mindful of the type of toys come into the RV. I want their toys to be both educational and fun.

3 Play Time

Have you noticed how wobbly an RV can be? Yeah, imagine your children running back and forth in the living room or bouncing up in down with pure energy. It’s crazy.

My kids get to moving in here and you’d think there was a Cat 4 hurricane going on outside. They’re that spastic and energetic. Sometimes (read all the time) its really hard to contain their energy. That’s when we go outside.

When outside time fails we try to find some other game that we can all play inside that doesn’t involve running 115 mph back and forth in the camper (although there are times we just let them too).

I’ll link a few posts I’ve written on activities you can do with your kids. They’re not necessarily specific to living in an RV, but the activities can definitely be completed in an RV.

Here are the links:

4 Private Time

It’s no joke when you’re full-time RV living with two kids. Space is small and you have nowhere to run or send your kids that allow for “quiet” time or private time. So, how do people do it?

For us, our kids have a room and we have a room. But, even when we send them to their room if they’re being disrespectful or bad we can still hear the screams. Again, how do people do it?

We’re still figuring it out. Most days if we have to send our kids to their room for being disrespectful it can get under my skin. I just want to walk outside and leave them in here to scream and holler, but then I get worried about them tearing up the camper. You just have to breathe and let it all pass over.

Now, in regards to adult time, that can get either be tricky or fun. Depends on how many kids you have and how tight of living quarters you have.

5 Outdoor Activities

Get. Out. Side.

It makes kids less fussy and way more tolerable. Outdoor time is precious and shouldn’t be seen as a pain or neglected. I can tell a huge difference when my kids get to play outside and when they don’t.

When they’re outside they get to run around and be crazy.

Rainy days are bad, but rainy weeks are the worst! These kids turn into villainous monsters hellbent on destroying my sanity.

I love days where it rains but then the rain goes away and the sun comes out. Those are the best! I have some mudbugs and they love stomping in mud puddles once the rain has gone.

6 Rainy Days

Rainy days are made for rainy day activities. Things like Uno, Checkers, Go Fish, Legos, etc. Those are pretty much our go-to games since they don’t take up a lot of space.

You want to aim for things that are small, fun and can entertain for a good while. Or, have a pretty decent supply of smaller games that you can rotate through in order to keep the kids from getting bored.

Since we have homeschooled we have a good supply of books and games that we can play when it starts to rain. And, if all else fails, we have Netflix and Hulu that can save the day. This typically means Moana or some Hulk show will be on the TV.

Thank goodness that isn’t often.

7 Bathing

Have you ever seen an RV bathtub? What about an RV that just has a shower?

Most RV’s bathrooms are really tiny. As in, a foot tub/kitchen tub is almost the same size as the bathtub. I can get the water a little over my belly button on a good day in the camper. And, that’s with turning the water off so the water can get hot again. -_-

Now, imagine 4 people needing to bathe and the hot water heater only being large enough to fill the tub halfway…. once.

If you’re lucky you’ll have a bathhouse where you’re camping, so you’ll be able to shower there to save yourself from the forever ending hot water.

8 Cooking

I wrote an entire post dedicated to cooking in an RV or small space. Check out this post here: How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV.

Aside from space in the camper, cooking full meals for 4 people in a camper can be tricky. You get used to it though, and you get creative too. We’re not too picky when it comes to the food we eat  (unless your my son) so that helps out a lot. Generally, we go shopping once a week for veggies and then every two weeks for meat.

A big thing that we found very helpful was having a deep freezer we keep outside. It’s not too big either. Just enough to put some meat in so we don’t have to buy meat every week.

But, don’t forget to check out my post and see how we’ve managed to cook full meals for 4 people in our RV.


 

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How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV

image of an rv kitchen

Tiny home living has made national news, and with all the downsizing that has happened, the kitchen seems to be one of the hardest areas for us. I love to cook big meals, but trying to cook a full meal in an RV can be a little tricky.

The oven is really small, you only have 3 eyes and your “counter” space is all but non-existent. It can really get to me sometimes. Some RV’s have really good counter space, but ours is so tiny. Which is why we have to improvise in our RV and use other areas besides the counter space we don’t have.

Image of a skillet on a stove

Cooking does require a little planning, but taking into account everything else it balances out. I’m going to go over how we balance making home cooked meals in an RV without compromising on anything.

How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV

We’re really horrible at meal planning honestly. My husband typically eats what is supposed to be leftovers and then a week’s worth of meals turns into 3 days of meals. Thankfully, we’re pretty simple folks when it comes to meals anyway and I make it work with what we have and we spitball most of our meal ideas. If you keep it simple you’ll never feel stressed over meals.

Rather than planning to have meat and 3+ sides, we typically have meat and 2 sides. It doesn’t matter if we’re cooking inside or outside, we stick to about 2 sides (we don’t salad if we have a salad).

Related Post: How To Live In An RV Without Feeling Cramped

1 Keep Meals Simple

image of a pot of chili

In a big kitchen, it’s easy to make lovely, big meals, but in a tiny kitchen, it’s a little bit more difficult. You have to get strategic and figure out what needs to be started first and go from there.

For instance, if you’re making baked chicken in a cast iron pan with some veggies you can use the stove and oven simultaneously. We prep our chicken first and get the cast iron pan hot before putting the chicken in the oven. After we get that in the oven we wash up whatever dishes need to be washed and move on to the sides.

Most of our sides are made on the stove top, so we’re actually not that cramped while cooking.

2 Plan Your Meals (Week By Week)

I’ll admit that this is a step we’re still working on ourselves. Mainly because I get fed up trying to meal plan when it always get’s botched by my husband eating the leftovers. That’s why #1 is so important for us. Simple meals really do make a difference.

We’re not elaborate cooks anyway, so I guess that is really good for us.

If you’re not a great meal planner (like us) here’s a simple spreadsheet we’ve been using. I try to look at it as suggestions. So, if we don’t want chicken tonight and tomorrow is steak I’ll swap them and then my grocery haul doesn’t change.

Along with keeping meals simple, meal planning also helps us stick to our budget rather than defaulting to going out to eat.

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3 Use Space Wisely (I.E. Know What’s Cooking/Needing to Be Prepped When)

image of an RV kitchen

Sometimes I still FUBAR (f***ed up beyond all repair – thanks grandpa for that one all those years ago) this one. There will be times where I’ll think one thing will take x minutes when it really took way more or less time. This has happened because we’re still getting used to how our tiny oven cooks (read: I doubt we’ll ever “get” it).

But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Figure out what will take the longest to make and start that first. This is one of the reasons we bought an InstaPot honestly. It has so many settings and if it’s a slow cooked meal I can set it and forget it. However, it’s also good for making a big batch of rice for the week.

Related Post: 30+ Must Have Items for Homestead Beginners

4 Have Your Ingredients Ready

image of an rv table

We use our kitchen table a lot of the times for chopping and prepping foods. If it’s meat we usually put the wood cutting board over the sink so that any blood/juices can just drop in the sink.

I love, love separating things out and putting them in bowls so that I have everything ready to go. It’s so easy to chop and toss in the bowl so that it’s ready to toss in while cooking. Sometimes I can skirt by with one bowl, but other times I’m not so lucky.

These are the bowls I use and love. There are various sizes that I can choose from that make it easy to decide whether I want to combine foods or keep them separate. Another big plus is that they stack! That’s a definite plus in an RV!

In any case, have your ingredients out and ready so that when you need them you’re not rushing.

5 Keep Dishes Washed Accordingly

Nothing is worse than having tons of dishes in the sink while you’re trying to cook in a small RV. What we do is wash dishes as we cook lunch or supper. By washing while cooking we also cut down on what we have to wash after we eat.

Having everything washed also cuts down on how claustrophobic I get. It isn’t often that I feel that way, but a cluttered camper and kitchen area can make me feel really crazy.

Washing as I go is one thing my husband grandmother taught me even living in a 1000 sq. ft. house. It makes clean-up easier when everything is all said and done.

6 Use Correct Pot/Pan Sizes For The Item You’re Cooking

You wouldn’t believe how many times we would be making a dish and had to transfer it to a bigger pot/pan. Whether it was green beans or soup, I’ve underestimated a time or two. Heck, I’ve overestimated many times. That just means more dishwashing in the form of a bigger pot or extra pots/pans.

Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space

7 Store Food Wisely

We’ve been trying to kick plastic in our home for a while, but Ziploc bags still thwart us. Our cups are either stainless or glass, we’ve never been one to use plastic plates or utensils, and our coffee filter is wired mesh. For storing leftover foods we have glass food storage.

If we have a one-pot meal we typically put that in the fridge (if there’s room). If it’s multiple items we use the glass food storage containers. We’re hoping to get some that have compartments built in so we can store food for lunch the next day. I like these right here, but we haven’t fully committed yet.

With that being said, when it comes to storing things like meat, we’ve been looking at a foodsaver vacuum sealer. I’ve had my eye on this thing for… well, for about a year now. We just never bit the bullet.

After finally bringing our small deep freezer down to the RV from the house we have talked about buying meat in bulk to save money. So the foodsaver would save us lots of freezer burn and heartache

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Two images of food in a collage with text on the image that says "how we cook full meals in an rv"

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Top RV Homestead Kitchen Items You Need

image of peppercorns, a spoon and a grinder

Living in an RV or Camper causes you to think outside the box when it comes to kitchen items. Since a lot of people are thinking about ditching their 1500+ square foot homes for the tiny life I thought this post might be nice. I am going to go over some of my favorite RV homestead kitchen items and the ones that are on our wishlist.

Some of the items on our RV homestead kitchen list are also in this post here, but I’ll likely be re-writing that post. I plan to do that really soon with updated content and am going to point the kitchen section to this post.

Because everyone has a wishlist right?

image collage of veggies and fruits

When we first decided to live in an RV rather than renting a house or apartment in town it wasn’t an easy decision. The kids were used to having tons of land to run on and were able to be crazy. Yet, here we were about to confine them in less than 300 square feet of a home.

Thankfully, one of the RV parks we found was situated 3 miles from where my husband worked and it was secluded. I didn’t realize that military installations had campgrounds, much less a place to put an RV. This place has been a big blessing for us the past year and a half. We’re surrounded by trees and we’re a short walk from a pretty good sized lake too.

What doesn’t get made in the kitchen of our RV likely gets cooked on the grill or over the campfire (hello you gorgeous Dutch oven!).

Related Post: 30+ Must Have Items for Homestead Beginners

Top Items For The RV Homestead – What We Have

1 Cast Iron Skillets – These are amazing and everyone should have at least three… or four… or more. I can remember visiting my grandmother and on her kitchen walls, there were countless cast iron items. They’re long-lasting, they are easy to use and clean, they’re the “original” non-stick pan (when used right), and they don’t have harsh chemicals in them. In our kitchen, we have a small, medium, and a large skillet. We have a biscuit pan, cornbread pan, and a griddle. You can never go wrong with cast iron.

2 Water Bath Canning Set  If you’re doing any sort of homesteading, a water bath canning set is a “must have” item. It is great for canning all the lovely produce you can pick up at the farmers market! Not everyone can or wants to garden, but canning is something that, in my opinion, should be done by all. It’s great for preparing for any disaster that might occur. Or for just cutting down on your grocery bill.

3 Mason Jars  What would we do with mason jars? We use them for cups and we use them to can delicious foods. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and even colors (clear is preferable for me though). We use these for storing leftovers, broth, foods we can or just using on a daily basis. Personally, I love wide mouth jars because they’re easier for me to clean.

4 InstaPot This is one of the best things I’ve bought so far. I can pressure cook frozen chicken and then cook rice all in about 30 minutes. After that, you can wash it and put more stuff in the slow cooker to be ready for the next day. It’s wonderful and I love it so much. Very useful in a small kitchen.

5 Chemex Coffee Maker  We had a Keurig coffee machine to start in our RV(it was a present). Eventually, I got aggravated with how much space it took up and I told my husband I wanted something new. I had seen many people using these cool looking, pour over coffee makers and was enthralled. So, naturally, I just had to get one. I love this thing. It’s easy to use and quick. Making coffee is kind of meditative now as I watch the water drip from the steel mesh into the flask. I picked mine up at WalMart for pretty cheap, and it came with a wire mesh strainer. I don’t have to worry about filters now 🙂 (*queue happy dance*).

image of a chemex

6 Good Knife – A good knife should go without saying. You can’t really cut much with a knife as dull as a butter knife. If you splurge on anything, I would splurge on a really sharp knife. Personally, I use a knife called a santoku, and I think this is the one I have. It’s not chef quality, but with a good sharpening blade/block, you should be good to go.

7 Coffee Grinder  – While coffee grinders are usually used for coffee ours isn’t really used for grinding coffee. We use it to grind spices and salt mainly. But, if you buy coffee beans you can grind the coffee as fine or chunky as you want. We plan to buy beans soon though because our coffee is pretty finely ground and gets in the coffee as it drains. I don’t like that part, but my husband could care less.

8 Mortar & Pestle – This is also great for grinding spices. I have a pretty big mortar and pestle my grandmother bought me as a present from out west. I love it, but often get scared of dropping it on my toe. It’s stone granite of sorts. Very. Heavy. I love it though. Find one you love and you’ll never be unhappy with having it around.

image of a mortar and pestle

9 Food Containers – Storing leftovers is essential. I love glass containers to store my food in so I can reheat it at work. We tossed plastic long ago and haven’t looked back yet.

10 Good Pair of Scissors – Good scissors can never not be a “must have”. We’re always using scissors. Heck, I even use scissors for cutting bacon up to put in our green beans. It’s effective, even if it’s kind of weird. So, they’re useful for a variety of things.

Related Post: Why We’re Transitioning to Become Self-Sufficient

11 Magnet Strip for Knives – This is a life saver. I’ve always been scared of my kids grabbing knives out of the drawers in the camper (hello short drawers). So, rather than freaking out all the time we bought a magnet strip and now the knives just stick to the strip. It’s amazing. Not to mention, it keeps your drawers clear of clutter.

12 Command Hooks – Best. Thing. Ever. We use these for coffee cups, measuring cups, measuring spoons and ladles in the kitchen. They’re amazing. Great for RV’s or small spaces. I usually grab a few packs every so often when I’m in WalMart or Lowes.

13 Kitchen Scale – I use this for recipes that call for specific measurements or if I’m weighing out meats/veggies. I try to portion out our food to help keep from letting things ruin. Again, WalMart had my back with this one thankfully. If you can’t find one at WalMart, this one is close to what I have, not to mention it can measure up to 11lbs.

14 Measuring Cups & Spoons – I don’t know what I’d do without these. I’m not a great eye-baller when it comes to measurements. Maybe I’ll get there down the road, but I’m not there yet. So, they’re my necessities for now. I’m glad they’re small too, and lightweight so I can hang them on command hooks. I like stainless steel for these, mostly because I was tired of the plastic ones breaking or getting cracked.

15 Hand mixer, Blender & Immersion Blender – If you wanted, you could probably downsize and only use one of these if you wanted to, but I like having options. The immersion blender is great for blending soups… it’s amazing. I’m pretty sure I have this set, and it fits great under my sink. The blender is great for smoothies, sauces, and such. We have a Vitamix, but it’s not necessary to go that high tech. Mine was a gift for graduating college (thanks grandpa!). Hand mixers are great for bread, cake, potatoes and whatever other things you might use a hand mixer.

16 Quality Wooden Cutting Board – I definitely prefer woodblock cutting boards over plastic ones. They hold up longer, and that means less plastic in the world. Win-win for me. We’ve tried a glass cutting board… it didn’t go so well. Everything slid all over the place and I got pretty irritated. Needless to say, that pretty class cutting board is now just a decoration. Our board is from WalMart and is from The Pioneer Woman.

image of wood cutting board and cloth

17 Wire Mesh Strainers – These babies are worth their weight in gold, especially the fine mesh kind. They make straining lovely liquid gold (I mean broth) easy. Fine mesh strainers help to catch all the little bits that a larger mesh might miss. Need a tighter mesh? Line it with cheesecloth! They’re good for straining teas, broth, noodles, or anything needing straining really. I want a few more actually.

18 Mixing Bowls – What can I say? Multiple sizes of mixing bowls are a must. If you don’t have multiple sizes then you’re missing out. We own some stainless steel bowls and glass bowls. I don’t have favorites… I love them both.

19 Dutch Oven – I was gifted one of these by my grandmother. And, it was the. Best. Gift. Ever. Seriously, I love that thing. We have this tripod castiron stand we put over our firepit and we’ve cooked many soups in it. I haven’t tried much else yet, it has been kind of reserved for fire cooking. Maybe I need another one?

Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space

Top Items For The RV Homestead – Our Kitchen Wish List

20 Pressure Canner – We plan on buying quite a bit of produce from the farmers market this year. Well, at least we’ll buy what we need to stock our pantry for this year. To do that, we’ll need a pressure canner, and that’s why it’s on our wish list (i.e. get very soon list). With canning season approaching fast, we’re saving up to get one so we are able to can more than tomatoes and jam this season. We’re likely getting the 10.5 pressure canner.

21 Veggie Peeler – I’ve been using a knife to do a lot of my peeling, but sometimes I take a bit more than I intend off of a potato, cucumber or carrot. So, I figure it’s time I get a nice veggie peeler.

22 Grain Mill – I’m not sure which I want more right now, honestly, pressure canner or grain mill. They’re both so helpful in cutting costs. Maybe I’ll get lucky and be able to buy them both at once ;). If you have a suggestion of which we should buy, let me know!

23 FoodSaver System – I want this simply because I’m tired of “freezer” bags not really keeping the food from getting frostbite. So, I’m saving to splurge on this fancy device. I want one that also has the attachment to seal food in jars!

24 MasonTops Fermentation Kit – I’ll be honest, I know that I could do fermentation without all the hullabaloo, but these are nifty. And, I may have ruined my fair share of sauerkraut trying to make it for my husband. It kinda sucks. So, this is on my wishlist too. And, of course, it’s for wide mouth jars.


What are your top RV homestead kitchen items?

Are there some here that you feel I forgot?
Maybe something I’m not aware of and could really use this season?

We’re always looking for items that will make our RV homestead kitchen more efficient, and also cut down on space hoggers.

Here soon we’ll be going over how we’re renovating our RV kitchen and living area. I can’t wait to show you.

image of a kitchen with items on a counter


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