How to Stock Your RV Pantry

Aug 3, 2022 | Food & Camp Cooking

How to Stock Your RV Pantry

Follow these tips with your own space and food preferences in mind, and you'll have the most well-stocked and organized pantry at the campground.

By Kerry Sainato

Photo: Kerry Sainato

A well-stocked pantry makes cooking easier, but it can be difficult to decide the best way to organize the small space available in your RV kitchen. We’ve pulled together these tips to help you maximize even the tiniest of pantries.

Always Have the Basics

First things first: Keep the basics on hand at all times. Pantry basics vary by traveler, but consider the items your crew will need often, like salt, pepper, oil, sugar, peanut butter, coffee, and tea. 

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Also, consider always keeping a small stock of shelf-stable items that make throwing together last-minute meals easier. Items like rice, canned beans, dried pasta, jarred pasta sauce, ramen noodles, canned tomatoes, and tuna fish are all good options. 

Stock a can or two of evaporated milk in your RV cabinets for those times you run out of cream for your coffee.

During each RV outing, keep a list of items that are running low so that you can restock them before your next trip. Your phone’s notes app or a Togo RV checklist are convenient places to keep track of this list in real time. Or keep a notepad taped to the inside of a cabinet to keep track of items you need to replace as you’re using them. 

a row of spices with red tops and labels hangs under a wooden cabinet next to a pink basket full of peppers
Space saving spice rack for an RV. | Photo: Kerry Sainato

Spice It Up

Aside from salt and pepper, keep a handful of dried herbs and ground spices on hand to amp up the flavor of your meals while camping. Spice blends like Cajun seasoning, curry blends, taco mix, and BBQ rub can liven up basic grilled meats, pasta dishes, and sauteed veggies with minimal effort.

Since space is at a premium, label smaller containers and fill them from your home spice collection to save space. A smaller stock will ensure that your spices remain as fresh as possible since the heat and humidity of summer can shorten their shelf lives.

A refillable spice bottle set and organizer is perfect for RV storage; the spice containers clip into an adhesive-backed holder which can be attached to your kitchen wall instead of taking up precious cabinet space. Or, install a magnetic spice rack on your kitchen wall or on the inside of one of your cabinet doors.

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Take Only What You Need

Aside from the basics, only take what you’ll need for a specific trip. Pre-plan as much as you can and portion exactly what you need for the meals you’re going to make in small, reusable containers. 

For instance, mix up a batch of pancake mix portioned to your family’s size while packing. This will reduce the total number of ingredients you need to bring while making breakfast time a little easier while you’re camping.

For snacks, consider buying mixed packs of lunchbox-sized chips, cookies, and crackers in bulk at the beginning of your camping season. Then bring a small variety of these smaller packages on each trip to help reduce storage space. These are also the perfect size for stowing in daypacks during outdoor adventures.

And, if you know you’ll be near civilization, consider making grocery stops every few days while you’re traveling so that you keep fewer items in your small space at any given time. Plus, it’s fun to incorporate local products into your meals when visiting new places.

an open kitchen cabinet with cans and plastic containers
Stock pantry basics in reusable, well-sealed containers. | Photo: Kerry Sainato

Seal Pantry Items Tight

Keep items sealed in critter-proof containers where necessary. Canned goods don’t need additional storage, but for bulk items, consider mason jars or deli containers. Both of these options are sturdy, have tight-fitting lids, and are inexpensive. 

Save your takeout containers for stocking your RV pantry. These containers come in an array of sizes and stack well, which allows you to take advantage of vertical space. Plus, they’re multi-taskers: You can use them as measuring cups because they come in standard sizes.

If you opt to use mason jars, consider buying reusable heavy-duty plastic lids, which won’t rust, and they come in fun colors.

Use painter’s tape and a Sharpie to label your reusable food containers. Painter’s tape is easy to remove when a container is empty.  

Contain and Categorize Your Pantry

Find high-sided bins or baskets that fit your RV’s cabinets to organize and store food. Store similar items together in categories that make it easy to find items as you need them. The high sides also help with items that may shift during transit. 

Use hanging baskets to store fruit and vegetables that don’t require refrigeration. There are many stylish options that hang on walls or from ceilings, which will save counter and cabinet space. If your cabinets are big enough, a Lazy Susan can make finding items in your pantry easier and may open up vertical storage space.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on RV pantry organization; your local overstock or dollar stores likely have many options. Just take note of the height, width, and depth of your cabinets before shopping for pantry containers to ensure they fit.

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Kerry Sainato

Kerry bought a tiny teardrop trailer on a whim over four years ago and is now an enthusiastic RV traveler. She spends most of her camping nights in New England, but is working on plans for a year-long cross country journey with her husband. Kerry also owns and operates a cooking blog, cookwithkerry.com, and loves cooking over the open fire during her camping adventures.

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