Downsizing Your Kitchen For Full-Time RVing


RV kitchen

Downsizing Your Kitchen For Full-Time RVing

Downsizing your kitchen from a sticks-and-bricks home to an RV can be a daunting and unsettling task. Downsizing in general is difficult. Giving up the walk-in closet, Jacuzzi tub, bonus room, and extra bedrooms is one thing, but restructuring every aspect of your cooking routines is an entirely different challenge.

If you’re like most people who like to cook at home, you’ve spent a lifetime getting your kitchen just the way you like it.  You have all the necessary utensils and small appliances like mixers, juicers, a rice cooker, and a bread maker.  You probably have more than one set of favorite knives and a very special set of pots and pans, and let’s not even talk about your fancy dinnerware set. 

In your kitchen, everything is where you want it, strategically located close to the range top, oven, or coffee bar. Potholders, potato mashers, and pot lids are conveniently located in a drawer or cupboard near the stove, the strainer and knives are close to the garbage disposal, everything is in its place and has a purpose.

With an oven, range top, indoor grill, one or two microwave ovens, and a large refrigerator, you’re ready to prepare a holiday feast for 20 or an intimate dinner for two, but now it’s time to go full-time in an RV and you need to adjust to your RV galley. It’s time to downsize your kitchen for an RV lifestyle.

How to downsize your home kitchen

If you like to cook and plan to continue cooking in your RV, this transition needs to be very strategic and the smaller your rig, the more strategic it needs to be. You can’t take the whole kitchen with you. You probably won’t be able to take a tenth of all your kitchen tools, so planning what type of cooking you will want to do is an important first step in this downsizing process.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will I be comfortable cooking inside my RV?
  • Will there ever be a time when I need to cook for a large gathering?
  • Are there tools or appliances that serve more than one purpose?
  • Could a blender do most of the work of a juicer, a blender, and a mixer?
  • Which appliances don’t I use on a regular basis?
  • How many knives and pots and dishes do I really need in an RV?
  • What types of meals will I routinely prepare and for how many?


Some people are uncomfortable cooking inside their RVs. There are many alternative cooking opportunities in an RV such as large outdoor propane griddles and barbecues and many trailers and fifth wheels even have outdoor kitchens. 

Our pastor and his wife owned a 32-foot Class A motorhome for over 15 years, and they never cooked inside their coach.  They used a Coleman camp stove on the picnic table outside of their RV for all their cooking.  They didn’t want the smells, the grease, or the mess inside the coach. 

Outdoor cooking on a barbecue

Outdoor cooking tools can be large and hard to store and transport. Photo via iRV2

Barbecues and outdoor grills

These are all personal decisions that will affect the process of downsizing your kitchen for an RV lifestyle.  It’s hard enough to decide what you can take with you and where you will put it all, but some RVers even have to figure out how to take their large outdoor barbecues and grills.

Perhaps traveling with a toy hauler or pulling an RV with a truck accommodates transporting these outdoor cooking tools, but for those who camp in travel trailers, or Class A, B, or C RVs, there is generally not enough room to haul the larger outdoor gear. 

Cooking indoors vs outdoors

But the decision to cook outdoors is just one aspect of downsizing your kitchen for an RV lifestyle. One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is what type of cooking will do while living in an RV. 

Personally, I downsized from an amazing kitchen and I knew I would still want to cook in the RV, but I also knew I wouldn’t ever be cooking for the whole family at Thanksgiving in my motorhome. 

I would be cooking for two and I’m perfectly happy to make these meals simpler.  The Crockpot has always been my kitchen friend and in the RV, it has taken on an even more meaningful role. 

downsizing the kitchen for an RV lifestyle included a good set of pots and pans Photo P Dent

I can cook virtually anything I need with these tools and a couple of glass oven dishes. Photo by P Dent

What will you be cooking in the RV?

My downsizing decisions ultimately came down to what kinds of things would I most likely want to cook in the RV.  Would I still need a huge pot to cook Dungeness crab?  Of course, I would! It’s my favorite food and I generally don’t trust vendors to honestly reveal the freshness of their cooked crab, so I like to cook my own, to be sure it’s fresh. Would I need a bread maker in the RV?  Not really. I can cook Rhodes bread in the convection oven on the rare occasion when I want a loaf of fresh bread.

Would I ever cook a whole turkey in the RV?  Yes, just because we’re living small doesn’t mean that we’re not going to observe any of the holidays. Will I need to cook a huge turkey to feed a couple of dozen people? No. My microwave/convection oven will do the job nicely on a smaller bird. 

“The next step [in downsizing] is to locate items that you simply don’t use.  For example, you may have an electric egg poacher or iced tea brewing machine that were great for the first 6 months that you owned them. You haven’t touched them since, and that was over 7 years ago.  Doing away with these items can still be viewed as “tidying up” as opposed to ditching everything you own.” – Advises Shannon Goins on Do It Yourself RV.

Simpler meal planning and preparation

My meals now are smaller and simpler, and I only need one set of really good knives, one set of super dependable pots and pans, and just a few dishes and storage containers, plus my crab pot.  

I won’t be doing any canning or making any jelly or pickles, and I probably won’t be baking any pies, but I can still whip together some amazing meals in the RV and with a little careful planning, I have all the tools I need right where I need them.

Youtubers Prone To Roam shared some great advice on how to declutter and downsize your RV kitchen cabinets in this video:

For more downsizing tips, check out this article on How To Get Rid Of Your Stuff And Hit The Road Full-Time. You may also like these 6 Quick & Easy Camping Meal Ideas

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