For quite a while we lived in our RV without a deep freezer. And, since we're stationary RV full-timers, we finally brought ours down here to store frozen goods to help us out. The fridge is really small and we wanted to keep it as packed with greens as we could. We just had to learn how to grocery shop while RV living and it took us a bit of time.
Now, we pretty much do the same things before and after we go shopping. That's what I'm going to talk about today. I hope this gives you a little insight into an RV situation when it comes to buying food. And, yes, we do go shopping about once a week. Because, after all, greens don't really stay fresh that long in the fridge.
How to Grocery Shop While RV Living Full-Time
#1 Take inventory of what you have
This is probably our biggest downfall at the moment. We have lots of deer in our freezer, but we keep buying other meats. We really need to finish off the deer and everything else in our deep freezer. But, I digress, we'll get there. I've slowly been bringing the meat out for us to eat on.
Anyway, take stock of what you have. There's no sense in going to the store and buying things if you already have them in your RV. That's just wasting precious space.
This past shopping trip I went through our pantry, cabinets, fridge, and freezer and wrote down everything we had.
#2 Plan out your meals
Once I had everything written down that we had food wise, I started making my meal plan. I'm pretty lax when it comes to meal planning really. I'm not rigid in the fact that we can't move things as we want. One night if we have pork chops planned and we just don't want it but want enchiladas instead then I'll swap days!
So, I make the plan and then write out my list based on the plan. I love knowing that I can shift things around as I need and want for the family.
Always plan snacks too. You never know when you might get hungry. I try to get granola or something that's easy to stash away in a compartment somewhere. Lately, we've been making oatmeal balls (energy balls but more kid friendly) and the kids are just loving them. I can get a huge thing of oats from Sam's and we have oatmeal for a month.
Note: Only buy in bulk if you know you'll use it and you know where you can fit it. It will save you time, money and trouble.
Related Post: How to Cook a Full Meal in an RV
#3 Note how much space you have
As I said above, take stock in where you can store things. This is one of the big reasons we put shelves in our pantry and our cabinets. I wanted to be able to store things without stacking 10 cans high. Or, higher sometimes. Hearing a big crash in the middle of the night didn't appeal to me at all.
But, it's always a good thing to make sure you have space for the things you are going to buy at the store. Beleive me, getting home and finding out you have things that don't fit anywhere sucks. Ask me how I know!
When we first moved in we went to the store a couple times and ended up having items sitting on the couch or table because our cabinets couldn't fit what we bought. This also goes for anything that might go in a drawer. Be sure your drawers can handle what you're putting in there.
#4 Figure out what can live outside of your fridge
This has been the biggest struggle for me honestly. I mean, could they have not found a way to make a bigger fridge? Seriously! I'm a kitchen lady and having a big fridge would definitely be better than a big living room.
Ok, maybe that last part isn't exactly true, but a standard size fridge that took up a little living room space would definitely be better than the tiny ass fridge they give us. Thankfully, though, my husband is a champ at packing things into the fridge without squashing all the goodies.
But, this also is a good time to think about what veggies will do ok outside of the fridge or what condiments can be left out of your fridge. The fewer things that need to go IN your fridge will make it easier to pack it full of the greens and other stuff.
We manage to fit a lot of greens, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes in our fridge along with other things. Figuring out how to eat a more simple diet definitely helps with keeping your fridge really clean. No need for all those crazy ingredients that you'll use once, maybe twice, before they go bad.
Seriously, go for simple meals and your fridge woes will go away.
#5 Organize the fridge
So this kind of ties into #4, but it's a rule in and of itself really. I'm horrible at organizing our fridge and will throw fits if I can't get things to work. Then my husband will tell me to stand back and work his magic. He somehow figures out how things can all fit nice and neatly in the fridge.
I'll figure that out someday. I promise.
If you can organize your fridge well you'll be way better off. It's amazing what you can actually fit in your fridge when you have it organized.
Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space
#6 For the love of all that's holy make a list – and take it with you
Ugh. Of all the times I made a list and left it at home… Do me a favor? Don't be me! This is the epitome of crazy pants mistakes. Shopping on a whim is already not good because you end up with everything but what's on your list. But, when you're living in an RV it makes it that much worse.
If you can't remember to grab your list before you go to the store then either put your list on your phone or stick it UNDER your phone right after you write it. You won't leave it behind if it's under your phone ;).
Then, not only are you sticking to your list, but you're making sure you know exactly what will go into your RV for cooking.
#7 After you shop, put it away
Take your time and find everything a nice neat little home.
You'll be pleasantly surprised at just how much food you can fit in your fridge and store in your camper.
We stock up on canned goods for nearly a month of meals, but the veggies and fruits keep us going to the store. I'm hoping that we can start canning a good bit of food over the summer so we have fewer trips to make to the store. I also need more pots to grow things outside. I'm on that though.
I've been researching growing blueberries and strawberries in containers. We have tomatoes right now, but I want lettuce and the blueberries and strawberries too. That would cut down on a good bit of our veggie/fruit consumption!
Go forth and grocery shop!
Do you feel a little more prepared now? I hope so. It might take a little bit to figure out, or you'll be snazzy and it won't take you any time at all! I hope the latter is true for you.
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