We love to dry camp. No 50-amp hookup, no sewer, no fresh water. Whether it is in a forest service campground, in the desert at Quartzsite, or at our very favorite place in the nation, Padre Island National Seashore, we love to ‘rough it’!
Over the years we have learned a few tips that make it easier for our larger-than-average family to last two weeks in a remote location without having to leave camp to restock supplies. We enjoy the refreshment of “cool” foods when it is hot out, and we don’t want to give up the healthier foods that have to be stored in our RV kitchen fridge or freezer in exchange for boxed foods that are often not good for you, so we have come up with a few ways to extend our limited fridge and freezer space.
Here are a couple of my favorite ways we utilize our RV kitchen space to better accommodate perishables and cold items. Many of these apply if you just have a tendency to over purchase at the grocery store, too.
Consider which items you regularly store in your fridge that you could keep in your freezer. We generally have extra space in our freezer while our fridge is bursting at the seams. If that is true for you also, remember that foods like butter, hot dogs, and cheese that you plan to shred, can all be safely stored in your freezer, then taken out a few hours before needed, or transferred to the fridge when you have the space freed up. Some people even freeze milk.
Repackage pre-packaged foods. Most of the time there is much wasted space in the packaging of pre-packaged items, including everything from sandwich meat to shredded cheese. This is where ziploc bags come in extra handy! Resealable bags are great for repackaging foodstuffs to eliminate extra packaging, oddly-shaped molded plastics, and air inflation; zipper bags can also be molded to fit anywhere in the fridge. They are also great for storing left overs in, which saves dishwater (and dish washing time) later.
Also, when purchasing plastic containers for your kitchen, strongly consider getting square and rectangular containers. These utilize space much more efficiently than the more common round containers, and can use the space in your fridge better with less waste between containers.
These also work for re-packaging foods, just be sure that you chose a container that fits the items well with as little air space as possible. This is an excellent option for condensing multiple packages of foods into one container.
Precook as much of your food as possible. Preparing foods before your boondocking jaunt will save you time, effort, water, and even fridge and freezer space. Foods like taco meat and sloppy joe meat can be seasoned and precooked, fat drained off, cooled, and packaged into a ziploc bag then placed in your RV fridge or freezer to save space.
We also prepare other foods besides meats as much as possible. Carrots and onions for cooking can be presliced so that all you have to do is open the bag and dump them in, which saves your limited water while boondocking, and time and energy when you could be out enjoying your natural surroundings.
For oddly shaped items like celery and green onions, chopping as soon as you bring them home, then storing in a storage bag, means that they can then be fit into any odd nook and cranny that you find in your packed refrigerator. For boondocking travels, we often make up a menu for the trip to ensure that we are utilizing the foods that we have or can fit into our fridge and freezer, and that we don’t over purchase/stock and cannot take what we need along to last for two weeks without a trip back to town.
Once we have a menu plan, we purchase the items needed, and see what precooking/preparation we can do in advance to free up our time at the campsite. Things like pre-chopping veggies, shredding cheese, and portioning and pre-cooking hamburger for spaghetti and tacos and sausage for omelets, makes cooking in the wild much more enjoyable. All of these preparations save time and effort back at camp.
Consider the foods that you plan to take along, and choose some that can be chilled at a later time. Because there are quite a few of us, it is nearly impossible to fit enough food items to last two weeks in our small RV kitchen fridge and freezer. We try to chose some snack items that do not have to be refrigerated, even if it sometimes means foods that we would not normally have in the RV.
Some of our favorite snacky foods do not have to be refrigerated until we are ready to use them. For those items, I plan them into the menu plan later in the trip when some of our cold storage space has been freed up. Then there is room to add those items to be chilled or frozen before we eat them, and there is the option to continually restock once space is freed in the fridge or freezer.
This is especially handy in the heat of summer, or down south in the winter. These are some chill-later snacks that we love, such as:
- Otter Pops — these are basically popsicles in a tube that do not need to be kept cold until you are ready to freeze and use them. We purchase the 100 percent fruit juice ones from Costco.
- Go-Gurt — yogurt in a tube. These do have to be kept in the fridge, but we keep ours in the freezer, where we often have more free room, and the kids enjoy them frozen.
- Pudding and fruit cups — the fruit cups in jello are our favorite.
- Summer sausage which only needs refrigeration after opening.
Some foods that are great for camping since they don’t need to be refrigerated until used.
Plan for items that you can make later and then refrigerate. One of our children’s favorites is Jello. These small boxes are perfect for throwing in a cupboard, then making once you have some limited RV fridge space freed up later in the trip. We make ours in small disposable paper cups; the kids love that they each get their own cute serving, and we use the cups for campfire fire starter later. No dishes!
Our family loves to escape the RV parks and head out to dry camp! There is something about no electricity (no TV!), no phones, and even no grocery stores that is energizing and refreshing. Hopefully, using a few of these RV kitchen tips will help your boondocking stay be more relaxing and organized. Happy camping!