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The major difference between van lifers and non-van lifers is that van lifers constantly have to be on the move in their vans. The style of living of van dwellers is almost equivalent to that of the non-van dwellers. The space of the van is one thing that makes living under a roof more convenient. One of the best things about an RV, campervan, or van is that it gives campers access to key household appliances. Such as there is a kitchen in a house, so it is in the van. The kitchen is the heart of every home and the van life isn’t an exception. It is an area for preparing food, and food is one of the basic elements of life that sustain humans. It is one of the universal necessities for van living.
There is no doubt that you would have to cook, store and preserve food to eat while on the road, that is why setting up a kitchen and having its items allow creative meals to be made easy. Having to eat in the van means you save money, feel healthier, and frankly, if you are vegan most times you can make a tastier meal than you can get eating out. Saving money and eating healthy are both incredible benefits and also a means to meet other travelers. It makes sense to plan a kitchen layout you’re excited to use. Well, you’ll discover that appliances designed for campers sometimes work entirely differently than the ones you are familiar with at home. While planning to set up a kitchen in an RV, campervan, or van, some things should be considered.
Motorhome kitchen design is something that has evolved over the last couple of decades, although not as much as bathrooms or electrical systems. How many appliances your campervan or RV has, as well as the size and functionality can vary a whole lot depending on what kind of rig you are using. The size of your motorhome matters as the kitchens are available in a variety of shapes, and even colors. The size of the campervan determines the size of the kitchen area, though it isn’t in all cases as there are large RVs with a small kitchen area and big kitchens in small campervans. All of this depends on how the van is set up. Space is at a premium, so smart use of limited resources will help you to stay organized and make cooking easy and fun. Another thing to consider is if you’ll be cooking inside or outside. For a small or tiny RV kitchen, it can be quite difficult to work in it. Finding enough surface space to cook can be tedious and such, requiring some form of creativity.
Some of the problems encountered with small RV kitchens are lack of counter space, lack of floor space, storing cooking items, finding the ideal floor plan, and lack of cabinet space. For this reason, before purchasing your next van, ensure you get the right one to prevent you from incurring an enormous small kitchen. However, setting up a portable kitchen in a motorhome can include a two-burner or three-burner hob, a small stainless steel sink, and an under-bench 90L to 110L fridge. And if fitted, the microwave fits into the overhead locker area
Some of the most common features you that makes up an RV kitchen includes; Refrigerator, cooking fuel, portable propane stoves, oven, microwave, portable grill, shatterproof plates and glassware, sink, countertop, water system, fold up table, blender, food storage containers, camping coolers, cabinet organizer, spice rack, fruit hammock, cutting board, pots, pan, bowls, dishware, coffee maker, and cutlery storage amongst others.
As for an RV Refrigerator, it is one pertinent storage device to set up the kitchen with. An ideal storage device used to keep food fresh and drinks cold. The most recommended is a 12V Refrigerator. RV refrigerators are interesting in that they run quite differently from the fridges used at home. There are different brands of RV refrigerators and most can run off electricity or gas. Having a fridge running off LP gas is handy when camping without mains power but compressor fridges are much more efficient than absorption fridges when running on 12V DC and cope better with hot ambient temperatures. Stoves, RV stoves are also propane gas-powered. Meanwhile for an oven, while not all RVs or campervans include an oven, some do. Most campers or van lifers do not go with ovens because of the hard time getting it started. Others that do get it to cook as it performs the function that gas does and even more. Stainless steel sinks, with or without a drainer, are frequently a discrete component but occasionally, there are combined hob and sink units which are great space savers.
The categories of RV kitchens
Class A: This category can be found in class-A campervans or RVs. To make yourself feel at home, you can expect to find nearly all the amenities you will find in a house, such as a stovetop, microwave, residential-sized refrigerator, and even a convection oven.
Class B: Since class-B motorhomes are small, it has a little less to flaunt in the kitchen department. It includes everything needed to cook, but only in a miniature size. Such as an RV stove with two burners, a tiny refrigerator, and a single-basin sink.
Class C: This category is smaller than the first two listed but this class motorhomes tend to have decent kitchen setups. This is how the majority of van lifers’ kitchen is set up. Most class Cs include a stove, oven, full-size RV refrigerator, sink, microwave.
Fifth-wheel kitchen: This category tends to have the most living space. Almost all fifth-wheel will include full-size of all typical appliances and accessories. It has a large counter space.
Bumper-pull Kitchen: Bumper-pulls vary in size. Thus, the kitchen comes in a variety of sizes too. It could be compared to the class-B cooking setup.
Pop-Up and A-frame: This kitchen has shorter countertops and smaller fridges. Also, work with the available space which means less counter space, a smaller RV cooktop, and smaller sink. For the below-average van lifers, this is the kind of kitchen used.
Outdoor kitchen: Some rigs offer both indoor and outdoor kitchen. Outdoor RV kitchens are superb for use in warm weather days. Also works well while grilling out
Nowadays, there are a lot of ready-made kitchen units that can be purchased or built by yourself (DIY). Some of the commonly built campervan kitchens include All-in-one Van Kitchen, Removable Cook Station, Slide Door Slide-Out van Kitchen Back Door slide-Out Kitchen, etc.
Outfitting your campervan kitchen
This part is often a weak point in a motorhome kitchen but is important. Space is limited in an RV, and finding ways to utilize what little room there is, is what makes the difference. Multiple drawers are often more space-efficient than a large cupboard and extra shelves in overhead lockers can make a difference to storage capacity. To organize your RV’s kitchen space while setting up the kitchen, you can do the following; Install lightweight shelves in your cupboards to maximize your vertical storage space; Use a curtain rod with shower hooks to hang up your cooking tools and utensils; Store packets and mixes in plastic sink caddies; Use containers or baskets to store cleaning supplies under the sink; Use towel racks to hold pot lids inside the cabinet; Keep your spices organized in a magnetic rack; Attach a magazine holder to the inside of your cabinet doors for extra storage.
Lightweight plastic food containers with snap on lids save space, both when nested for storage, and when stacked for keeping food. It works well for dry goods and refrigerated items. More so, smaller quantities can be kept in zipper-lock plastic baggies. Wire basket slide-out pantries are sometimes fitted in narrow cupboard areas which effectively uses an otherwise un-useable area. To prevent jostling and annoying rattles while driving, ensure to place thin rubber shelf liners inside cabinets, and dish towels and pot holders or trivets can be laid over the stove burners. Just as at home, you’ll want to store leftovers or other unused foods for later use. The cabinet with the largest space can be used to store pots, pans, griddles, and food storage containers while cutlery, knives, can opener, and most cooking utensils will fit in a small drawer.
This isn’t exactly easy to come by in an RV. If there is an issue dealing with the lack of counter space or work surface, then consider using the table as a cooking space, pulling out the drawer and adding a cutting board on top of it, placing a cutting board across the sink or going outside to prepare the meal.
Some of the modern cooking sets made for camping, van-living, and backpacking offer diverse advantages over the pots and pans from your home kitchen. While some can be nested inside one another, or feature folding handles, to save space and reduce clutter. Most of the cooking sets include a small and medium-sized pot, fry pan, and a lid and handle to fit them all. Including a kettle and other necessary cooking items. If the van lifers are two or more, a larger set should be sufficient. These cooking items are often made of aluminum or other lightweight materials. Oven mitts or pot holders protect your hands and countertops when handling hot pans. Also, a small set of kitchen knives of various sizes with snap on sheathes will provide all your chopping, dicing, and mincing needs. However, two or three mixing bowls of various sizes double as serving bowls for chips and other snacks. Other typical cooking utensils: spatula, spoons, ladles. Smaller, lightweight camping versions save space and weight. A collapsible strainer for draining pasta.
In as much as cooking in your van can be fun, but eating is much better because that is the sole aim of cooking. Stacking, plastic plates, and bowls are durable to keep your food warm for long, especially when dining outdoors. Lightweight and compact is the key, and dining wares made for camping and backpacking are the ticket
Tips in making the most of your RV kitchen
Prioritizing the kitchen gears
Of course, you will need a kitchen gear, but just the right gears. This means that you will have to keep it to the bare necessities and find creative ways to maximize your kitchen space. Though priorities vary for all van lifers, ensure that you get what is most needed. Look at how you prepare your food and eat when you are not on the road because whatever you prioritize at home is what you’ll mostly do when on the road.
Secure your items
While driving on the road, no matter how smooth it may seem, some of your kitchen items shake and bump, which denotes that you could lose loose items when it flies and crashes to the floor. In other words, ensure that everything is secured before hitting the road. To enable that, you can use non-slip pads in your cupboards to keep dishes and glasses in check or secure the drawers and cupboards with latches.
Ensure that your kitchen accessories and appliances are as moderate as possible. Even if the storage space isn’t an issue, the weight would be. The more you pack, the heavier it will be. You can lighten your load by finding lightweight kitchen items that can serve multiple purposes. For instance, storage containers would also make great mixing bowls. Likewise, consider taking plastic utensils instead of metal.
The majority of the motorhome, RV, campervan’s kitchen in recent times have the essentials for cooking and washing up on the road. However, it’s the other part of the layout and overall size of the vehicle that decides the size and facilities that the kitchen will need.
All that is needed to ensure an effective kitchen set up in your RV has been explained in detail. What is now left is to enjoy your trips knowing fully well that you have no issue getting the necessary items and accessories for cooking while on the road.