Want an introduction to cooking in a small RV? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve now had just over a month of experience in making the best use of my tiny kitchen and while this is by no means a fully comprehensive article, the roomie and I have learned enough to keep ourselves fed – which is sorta the whole point. Like many of my other RV living articles expect that this one will get an update at some point down the road as I continue to learn from experience and others’ helpful suggestions.
What cooking methods are available in a small RV? It depends. In ones that have kitchens, a stove of some sort is usually a given. Microwaves and ovens are less of a guarantee though, so do your research before buying if either of those is essential for you. In Casitas, a two burner stove comes standard no matter which size or model you go with, and all are wired up to accommodate a microwave although only the 17′ models come with the option of having one from the factory. Mine came with a microwave, and the paperwork supplied seems to indicate that it was supplied by the manufacturer and not added in later.
First off I’m going to talk a little about power, hold on because this is pretty relevant when it comes to cooking. Until rather recently, 30 amp power was the standard for all but the large high end full-timing rigs. These days 50 amp power is becoming more common, but small RVs are still nearly always going to be 30 amp unless someone has modified them.
This is important to know when you’re cooking because there is going to be a limit to what you can have running electrically in the trailer at one time. Some appliances hog more of your electrical bandwidth than others. A/Cs, microwaves, toasters, and hairdryers are three common examples.
Running the microwave and the AC at the same time for instance could cause you to trip a breaker in a campground, so when employing this easiest of cooking methods, I always turn the AC off. Other than that inconvenience, microwave cooking works the same for me in the RV as it did at the apartment, with the size of the microwave being the only difference.
My stove runs on propane only being an older model, I believe many newer ones can be run via propane or electricity. Turning the stove on is a pretty simple process. The fan above the stove which vents to the outside should always be turned on before starting this process, to keep the propane gas from building up in the trailer. The burners have knobs which control the amount of gas getting to them. Turn the knobs to the ‘lite’ position, and use a long stem lighter to light them. Adjust as necessary afterward.
From my month of cooking in the RV, I can say that on mine at least it takes longer to cook things and boil water than it did on a standard house electric stove – although take into account that my Casita and appliances are all 13 years old, the newer ones might be better. I also have less control over how hot things get, keeping things warm without them getting hot enough to cook is difficult to do.
Finding the space to cook things can also be a challenge. Meals requiring both burners are especially hard in the Casita since they’re located one behind the other and it can get hazardous to reach over one cooking pot to stir another.
Luckily the cover over top of my stove is on a hinge, and it flips out to give me more space to work with, but the kitchen is still very small. Julie and I have adapted by concentrating on meals that can be cooked all together in one dish and don’t take a lot of time to do since there just isn’t the space to have all the ktichen stuff out for an extended period.
Again, going outdoors is a good remedy for this. I have an old portable Coleman propane stove from my parents which is currently living in the roomie’s car. At some point when both weather and work schedules allow for it there will definitely be some outdoor cooking.
I also desperately want to have a campfire and cook hotdogs over it, it’s criminal to have been in a campground for over a month and still not have had a campfire, but fire rings/pits are not provided with the site so I need to work something out on my own. This being touristy Bluffton and all, a lot of sidewalks around here are done with bricks and stones and lately the city has been tearing up some of said bricks to work on piping buried underneath them. Julie and I have discussed driving downtown at midnight sometime and pilfering some bricks to make a fire ring with, but we’re just joking. Mostly.
You aren’t limited to these old camping standbys, either. I’ve heard of plenty of RVers who have had success with crock pots, induction cook tops, and grills to supplement their cooking arsenal in a small RV. Many RVs will have outlets on the outside where these things can be plugged in even if you don’t have the space indoors for them. Since I haven’t had any personal experience with these so far I have little to say about their practicality and usefulness. If you have had experience with these or other plug in-able appliances pipe up and let us know how they worked for you.
Unlike what you may think, fancy non-breakable dishes and utensils are not a requirement for RVing. In fact the only thing I’ve bought so far to augment our cooking arsenal has been a set of bendable small plastic cutting boards, our old house-sized ones worked but were unwieldy. Even with the small amount of room available in the Casita there was space for our biggest pot and saucepan. This is just one more reminder that buying things ahead of time for RVing that you think you might need is a waste of money.
Up next in the small RV living series: living with a cat. As always comments and questions are welcomed and if there is something you would like to see me talk about when it comes to living in a small RV I am not a mind-reader, (actually if I could have any superpower it would definitely be the ability to fly), so let me know below or shoot me a line via e-mail, facebook, or twitter.