RV Setup 101 - Kitchens #2

From the Lily Pad
RV Lifestyle
My Prime Years
Our Journey

   by Donna B. Yeaw

Last time we talked about the basics of what you need in your RV kitchen - what to keep and what not. This time I'll cover some miscellaneous kitchen items and storage ideas.

You'll still need canisters to store things like coffee, tea, sugar, flour, etc. As you know, most canisters are heavy and not spill-proof or bug-proof.Canisters There are many different sizes, shapes and styles of storage containers available today. We found an off-brand at Sam's Club that has worked well for us. The set has four canisters in two sizes. We use one for coffee, one for sugar, one for cookies and one for pretzels. You can find similar sets made by Rubbermaid and Tupperware®.

Speaking of plastic storage containers, we bought many in different sizes but stuck with square & rectangular shapes - round containers waste storage space. The only round ones we kept are used for leftovers. We keep all open cookies, crackers, cereals, etc. in these containers. If we run out of containers, we use locking plastic bags. (Although I use a competitive product, you might want to check out the Glad® Home Page - some great information is available there.)

Surprisingly we have found our refrigerator more than adequate. Originally I wondered how we would ever get by with such a small space but it is rarely filled. I probably could use more freezer space, thank heavens for our built-in ice maker, I don't have to fuss with ice cube trays or bags of ice.

Our kitchen has 6 small drawers (3 on either side of the sink area), one large drawer under a small closet space and one very large drawer under the stove. The small drawers are used for several things.

  • Miscellaneous junk drawer
  • Miscellaneous office supply drawer
  • Kitchen towels
  • Small hand tools
  • Aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic bags, etc.

The largest drawer stores lightweight pantry items such as coffee filters, pasta, noodle & rice mixes, peanut butter, tea bags, lemonade mix (no sugar type), popcorn and other commonly used items. We used to store our bread here but since the drawer is next to the water heater, the bread (& bagels) spoiled too fast. We now put them in an upper cabinet.

Silverware & UtensilsThe last drawer stores our silverware and utensils. I had a hard time finding a silverware tray that would fit in this space and ended up using a more multi-purpose type tray with fewer slots but a better fit. (They are often found in dollar stores for - yup, a dollar.) Larger utensils are stored behind the tray and at the back is a small storage bin for small, loose, infrequently used items.

Drawer dividers are quite handy and come in many types but be sure to watch the height. I found small, narrow ones in 3-packs at places like Wal-Mart and Target. These are very handy for small items. Tray type dividers are also good if you can fit them in your drawer space. I did see some that have built-in slides that change the width of the tray - they are not cheap, though. There are also dividers that you can separate and customize to your drawers. I haven't used these since they are more expensive.

Cabinets, like drawers, come in all sizes and shapes. Our upper cabinets are pretty much the same size and the doors open upward. They are good sized and I can store larger items like our crockpot and electric frying pan in them without much problem. The one different cabinet is the one over the sink. It's wide, has two doors and they open to the side like a house kitchen cabinet would. This is where I store all my dishes, glasses, coffee cups and serving bowls. If it doesn't fit in there, I don't need it!

Our RV already had a sliding rack up under the top shelf so we hang our coffee mugs there - leaving an empty space between to help stop clanging. Our glasses stand well, they are heavy bottomed glasses, so that helps. A non-skid liner is a MUST. You can cut it into smaller pieces and use it to keep items from sliding on the dining table, night stands and just about anywhere you can think of. I even use a small piece as a jar/bottle opener (I never can grip the lids).

CabinetsBTW, don't buy this liner at RV/Camping stores. We made that mistake and paid over $3.00 a roll. Later we found it at the Dollar Stores for ... yup, a dollar. You can often find it at office supply stores as well, maybe not for a $1 but for not much more.

I try to group like things together in the cabinets. Starting with the cabinets above our dining area and moving towards the living room, this is what I have in each.

The first cabinet is actually a small hanging closet with a light and it sits behind our dining area, above our ice maker. It would be great for blouses or shirts but we opted to make it a dual purpose office supply/pantry space. I have two stacking bins that hold computer paper, labels, stationary and envelopes. The bins sit on a small plastic shelf under which I store my box of file folders and some larger mailing envelopes.

In front of and to the side of the stacking bins are my plastic canisters of coffee, pretzels, cookies and crackers. At the very front is a large plastic bowl which gets used for popcorn and salads. It stores all my various plastic lids in one place. The next cabinet is the start of the space over the dining area. This is where the bigger items are stored - George Foreman grill (replaced the electric frying pan) and our crockpot. (By the way, I insisted on a crockpot that had a removable crock. This lets me prepare things the night before and store it in the refrigerator.)

I also store what I consider summer or picnic items like paper plates and cold drink holders in here. There is also space for my Tupperware® cereal container, a large can of mixed nuts and an open package of paper napkins. Underneath here is my under-cabinet toaster (which loves to set off our smoke alarm).

SpicesBeside this is the cabinet where I store all my spices. I have several large plastic containers of spices that are used to refill the smaller bottles. These are all at the back and since they are squared, they fit nicely. All my various spice bottles are here, with the most frequently used at the front. I also store extra condiments (catsup, mustard, salad dressing, etc.) here plus salad croutons, unopened crackers and my husband's favorite - "squeeze cheese".

The last actual kitchen cabinet stores our most frequently used canned goods. Tuna fish, vegetables, soups, etc. Since these are heavy and topple easily, I only store them one high. I know this is a waste of space but I haven't come up with any better solution. I had tried them in the extra large drawer, but it was too heavy to easily open and close.

The last place I use for pantry type storage is under our sofa. It lifts to make a bed and I found there is quite a bit of space underneath even though part of our largest outside storage bin eats some of it up. This is where I keep the rest of our canned goods, extra paper towels, napkins, tissues - anything else that is used infrequently.

We have storage under both dining room seats with doors that are small and open to the side. Cleaning SuppliesThis storage area is narrow and long so I use this mainly for cleaning supplies. Our dust buster hand vacuum and a rechargeable flashlight are plugged in here, always ready to use. (Yes, there is a plug inside this area!). I have an electric broom with a beater brush that stores in two pieces, as well as sponges, scrubbies, etc. I also found that I can easily store extra placemats under dining seat cushions - keeps them nice and flat!

Under the sink is a storage area with a strong, built-in shelf with a side-opening door. My pots and pans are on the top shelf (competing with the drain and water pipes for space) and toward the front is my dish detergent and scrub brush. The bottom area is pretty well filled with mechanicals and a piece of the heat duct. There is space to the front and the back of the duct so I still manage to keep the various bottles of cleansers, dog shampoo, etc. stored here.

There are several other lower cabinet doors, but not really for storage. They provide access to the various mechanicals of the RV as well as ventilation for them. I can and do store some items in the front where there is space, but you have to be careful as to the time of year (heat from furnaces) or what the space is really there for. I use this for overflow items that I don't need very often. I store the rods that hold items in place while moving (used both for the refrigerator and my paper holding stack bin drawers), baking soda, bug traps, and I'm not sure what else!

Paper towels are still a boondoggle for us - I leave the roll standing on the counter.Paper Towel Holder Our kitchen cabinets don't allow room to mount a towel holder and the same goes for under the cabinets. This is one you'll have to adjust to your cabinets & space.

We bought a folding dish drainer - takes up less space when not in use - but I'm not thrilled with it. Although compact and lightweight, it also tends to not hold heavy items securely. I'm still looking at options here. Our twin sink isn't big enough for a regular twin sink drainer and we have no place to store one elsewhere (when not in use).

My cutting board and wooden serving tray (a must have for taking things outside & back in) stand up along the wall beside the stove. The hood range holds the tray in place (I stand it long-side up) with the cutting board behind it. My metal trivet sits in the middle of the stove and I have a wooden, apple-shaped basket in the very back corner behind the stove that holds my napkins.

We had an unusually shaped bathroom wastebasket in our house that I kept for the RV kitchen. It's tall and narrow, triangular shaped with one edge sloping downward. This lets it fit in the space behind the the dining seat and underneath the ice-maker. Works well and holds a fair amount of trash. So far my biggest problem has been finding the right size plastic bags for it. Shopping bags are too small and tall kitchen bags are too big. I think medium garbage bags would work but they seem to be hard to find in the smaller grocery stores.

Knife MountOne final idea I wanted to add. A great way to store knives if you don't have a knife block is to create a holder inside any cabinet door that opens to the side. (Note the picture for ideas.) Side opening cabinet doors are also good for self-stick hooks to be used to hold towels, scrub brushes, etc.

Remember, every RV is setup differently and your storage areas may differ greatly from mine so what works for me may not work for you. The key is to look everywhere for storage areas. Don't get too hung up on the traditional spaces, be flexible. You never know where your next winning storage idea will come from!

Next time we'll head into the main living area, venture on to the bed and bath and finally drop outside to check into those storage areas. In the meantime, keep on rolling!


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