Our Top Five Keys to Happy RV Cooking

April Libby
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Editor’s Note: This post is written by a member of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

Happy RV cooking is easy in our full-time travels in our 2022 Wonder Rear Lounge. We love nothing more than exploring new places by day and enjoying a delicious meal in the comfort of our LTV. Leisure Travel Vans are well equipped and provide all the kitchen equipment necessary to help any level cook create various meals. The following are our top five keys to happy RV cooking.

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Enjoying lunch on top of a mountain in Joshua Tree National Park

Number One: Organization

The organization is the first key to Happy RV cooking. Because we live in our RV full-time, we cook like we did in our stick-and-brick home, three meals a day, seven days a week. Whether we are boondocking in a remote wilderness spot or booked in a downtown resort-style RV park, we cook. That’s about twenty-one meals for two, which we prepare weekly in our LTV. To us, being organized turns what many would consider a task into another joyful experience of RV living.

Kitchen Tools

RV space is limited not only by physical space but also by weight. This means choosing kitchen tools can be exhausting, especially in today’s world of gadget tech. There is a uniquely designed kitchen tool for any food preparation process you might want to perform. We narrowed our choices by deciding how much space we would dedicate in our RV to kitchen tools. Second, we picked our must-haves from our enormous choices in our home cabinets. Next, we ensured we had chosen the necessary tools, such as wine openers and more. Lastly, we put all our selected kitchen tools in our dedicated space. Of course, they did not fit on our first attempt. Because Jess and I both love to cook and have very different cooking styles, we had different tools that were important to each of us. Together, we narrowed our choices down until they fit.

It looked a lot like two coaches picking players for their sports teams. We chose items we wanted and others we had to leave behind. The best part of this process was the outcome: We created one organized drawer for every kitchen tool we chose. Each tool has a space. It is always in the same place—every time! We do not waste time looking for kitchen tools.


Container choices are numerous. This is the set we like the most. We wanted to safely store our dried food in appropriately sized containers in a drawer in our LTV. What I mean by appropriately sized containers is simple: Pick a container that matches the size of the volume of product you typically buy. For example, if you buy flour in a five-pound bag, ensure the container you choose has room for five pounds of flour.

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This simple concept helps us stay organized throughout our cooking process. We have everything we want and only purchase what we need. Using appropriate-sized containers even assists in grocery shopping. A quick glance through our containers helps us create a shopping list, saving us time and keeping our overall cooking experience a happy one.


Our Leisure Travel Van came nicely equipped with a two-burner propane cooktop and a combination microwave/oven. Anything we would have cooked in our stick and brick, we have been able to cook in our LTV. These two pieces of equipment ensure a positive RV cooking experience.

Adding a couple of key pieces of equipment has elevated our cooking experience—a 3-qt. Instant Pot and Coleman Grill streamline our cooking process and save us time. Again, our goal is to have the right equipment to enhance our RV cooking experience, nothing more and nothing less.

If your family’s favorite activity is fondue, then pack your fondue pot. Happy RV cooking is about understanding what your family enjoys and choosing items that best enrich your RV experience. Understanding the choices you make can turn an ordinary trip into an extraordinary trip.

Cabinets and Pantry

I cannot emphasize enough how organization at each stage of the cooking process enhances the RV cooking experience. The LTV has a lot of cabinet space, and the pantry is an added bonus. Setting them up is part of the fun of RVing. My most important recommendation is not to be afraid to rearrange items. If it feels like every time you need an ingredient, you must move something else to find it, your organization can be improved.

I’m not sure how many times in our first year we have reorganized our cabinets, but it has been several. With each fine-tuning of our set-up, we have enhanced our cooking experience. Easily and quickly putting your hands on an ingredient expedites cooking and can turn what might feel like work into an enjoyable experience.

In addition, maintaining a well-organized space helps us ensure we re-supply ingredients before we are in the middle of cooking and reach for something that is no longer there. There is nothing worse than craving your favorite chili on a cold rainy day in a remote camping spot and realizing you already cooked all of your black beans.

Refrigerator, Freezer, and Coolers

Refrigerators, freezers, and coolers are essential for a happy RV cooking experience. We keep ours organized and well-stocked. Full-time RV life allows us to purchase local products and visit farmers’ markets, thus ensuring a consistent supply of fresh products. Foods I love elevate my desire to cook. Keeping various foods and a well-stocked pantry ensures enough staple ingredients to make our favorite meals, with some variety to satisfy our creativity. One of our keys to happy RV cooking is the simplicity of making and enjoying a delicious meal in any environment we visit.

Number Two: Food Preparation

The second most important key to happy RV cooking is food preparation. Because we eat a plant-based diet, vegetable preparation is a constant job. Every meal includes multiple vegetables, which must be washed and cut. This process of washing and cutting uses a lot of resources, both time and water.

instant pot on left and uncut peppers, onions, and jalapeños on counter with cutting board and knife.

As full-time RVers, water is an incredibly valuable and limited resource. Water may be free-flowing at an RV park, but in many instances, we only have thirty gallons available in our freshwater holding tanks. Using that water efficiently ensures happy cooking and an overall happy RV experience. I wash and cut our produce all at once when we purchase it, ensuring we can eat it at its best. I store it in airtight, lightweight containers.

Preparing our produce all at once saves both time and water. Instead of dragging out knives and cutting boards at every meal, which will require water for washing, I only do it once for many meals. I also make salads and cook dry beans, which we can use in any meal. Having these prepared foods not only assists us in quickly cooking delicious meals, but we also tend to eat healthier foods.


Number Three: Process

Process is a common term in business. As a restaurant owner, it was one of my favorite job responsibilities. Developing a process that anyone in every situation can easily replicate is a rewarding feeling. Think of it simply as a routine. Process plays a significant role in RVing, even though you might not realize it. I’m positive that almost everyone reading this has a mental or physical checklist you go through before you set out on an RVing trip. This is a process!

Cooking in an RV can be challenging, with limited space, cooking tools, ingredients, and natural challenges like weather and elevation. The process can make all the difference. Developing and streamlining a process that works for you can turn challenging RV cooking into happy RV cooking. Prepping vegetables when we purchase them is one of our processes. When planning to shop, we allow for the extra time this requires.

Using this basic process saves time. We concentrate on our work and reduce the time needed for every meal, which gives us more time to explore or spend as we choose. Creating a simple and efficient process that works for our family adds to our joy and happy RV cooking.

Number Four: Going with the Flow

Going with the flow is a simple concept that can be difficult to achieve. Live Simple, Live Happy is a statement that represents the way Jess and I try to travel. We seek experiences and connections of all types, whatever they are. When a challenge or problem arises, we simply try to change paths. This concept allows us to travel lighter and capture the joy in everyday experiences—cooking included!

Cooking over a wood fire in Minnesota and enjoying a lobster boil in Maine were just some of our most memorable and happy RV cooking adventures last year. We used the oven to bake banana bread on a cold Nevada day, BBQs in the heat of the summer, and soups on rainy days. We go with the flow. Choosing local foods and preparing them in local ways adds another layer of unforgettable experiences to our travel.

Number Five: Use Common Tools in Uncommon Ways


Lids are used every day in the restaurant business. It provides a simple way to expedite cooking, especially on a flat grill. Place some vegetables on a flat grill, add a squirt of water from a spray bottle, and place a lid on top, and you create a steamer. I use our frying pans as makeshift lids when I grill. The pan concentrates the heat and helps cook the food thoroughly without overcooking. It’s also a great way to melt cheese on a burger! Yes, we love a great burger; ours is plant-based!

Extra Long Tongs

Extra-long tongs were a vital item I discovered when we often went car camping. In those days, a camping trip was about food and fun. Every meal was cooked while we were gathered around the fire pit. One day, I noticed a heavy-duty, exceptionally long pair of tongs in a home improvement store. They were a game changer.

I used these tongs for everything. I could move pieces of wood around in the firepit and place foil-wrapped baked potatoes and corn exactly where I wanted them in the coals. It also made moving those heavy New England campfire grates around simpler without getting soot-covered hands. These tongs were on the short list of tools from our stick and brick life that were must-haves in our full-time RV journey.

Grill Racks

Grill racks are another simple multi-purpose item. Many fire pits have no or minimal rack space. I have used my Coleman Grill grate in multiple situations throughout our travels. In some situations, a few well-placed rocks can hold up the rack, providing a great cooking surface in any location where you may be craving that wood-fired camping flavor.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is another tool we use in various ways. Baked potatoes cooked among the coals of a fire pit are arguably the best I have ever eaten. Over the years, we learned that if we double-wrapped the potatoes in foil, the middle would cook without burning the exterior. Using my extra-long tongs to rotate their position ensured perfectly cooked potatoes, which we could then dress with our favorite toppings. Delicious!

I also use aluminum foil to cover my grill rack, creating a solid cooking surface for delicate items such as vegetables like asparagus. Layering multiple sheets of foil allows you to control the heat transfer of the grill or fire pit, thus allowing limitless cooking options.


Microwaves are often thought of as having the single task of reheating food. However, they can do many more things to assist us with our RV life. I stole a microwave hack from our daughter. We were visiting, and I wanted to make breakfast for everyone. I was disappointed I hadn’t pre-boiled potatoes for home fries. “Just use the microwave,” she said; after a brief discussion explaining how I wanted grilled home fries, she placed several raw potatoes right out of the bag in the microwave in just a few minutes on high, the microwave dinged.  She placed a frying pan on the stove and, one by one, took the partially cooked potatoes out and, by giving them a good squeeze, separated the skin, allowing the center of the potato to drop into the pan. I was impressed with the efficiency of this process and have used it many times.

Happy RV Cooking

Happy RV cooking is a beautiful experience. Organization, process, food preparation, and tools are keys to happy RV cooking. Because we go with the flow, we Live Simple, Live, Happy!

April Libby

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