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RV Life Hacks: Store Your Foods Smart and Eat Well!

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to storing perishable and non-perishable foods in your camper.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to storing perishable and non-perishable foods in your camper.

Storing Basic Foods in Your Camper

One problem for RV owners when they are traveling or camping is just how to plan purchasing food so that it can be stored efficiently.

If this is not done properly, it can quickly become a nuisance for an RV owner who will need to be constantly running to the closest supermarket to purchase food items they did not plan for.

Even a pop-up has a certain amount of storage space, albeit small, you can invariably fill with food and spices of some kind so you're not left totally empty-handed when you're wanting a little flavor.

It didn’t take my wife and me long before we realized there had to be a smarter way. for food storage. And on the other hand, another inconvenience is there is nothing more tiresome than driving home all day to then have to unload food you didn't eat from your pantry and fridge before cleaning.

The food in the fridge and other packaged foods that can go bad quickly (like unopened chips or nuts) should always be boxed and taken from your RV and back into your home so they're eaten sooner.

On the other hand, there are certain packaged foods that can safely be left in your RV for your next trip with little or no chance of it going bad or being damaged by moderate weather conditions.

Boxing and Moving It Every Time Is an Alternative

As I mentioned, some foods must be moved in and out of your RV when you're not using it. Perishable foods in your fridge absolutely must be kept cold and you obviously must move them out of your RV and into your home fridge, when it's time to shut down your RV.

Eggs, meats, cheese, dips, sauces, opened condiments and of course, leftovers still in the fridge, are all perishables Common sense will tell you opened dry-good items like chips, nuts, sandwich bread, hot dog or hamburger buns, and crackers should be removed.

The exception might be if you're planning another trip within a few weeks. In that case, I will put such things as nuts, crackers, and even chips into quality sealable containers for the next RV journey.

Plan your perishable food purchases so your fridge has enough room to hold them and potential leftovers on a daily basis.

Plan your perishable food purchases so your fridge has enough room to hold them and potential leftovers on a daily basis.

Canned Foods to Leave in Your Pantry

If you're not putting your RV into seasonal storage or leaving it in extreme temperatures for a long period of time (around 1-2 weeks maximum), there are certain foods that can be put in your RV and left there for your entire traveling and camping season.

Here is a list of the basic foods and condiments I try to keep in my pantry for my seasonal travels and I have never had a problem with damage or spoilage.

  • Black Beans, 2 cans
  • Red Beans, 2 cans
  • Corn, 2 cans
  • Soup, 4 cans, chicken noodle and tomato
  • Tuna, 2 cans, white albacore
  • Chicken, 2 cans
  • Tomatoes, 2 medium cans, whole peeled
  • Tomato Sauce, 2 small cans
  • Tomato Paste, 2 small cans
  • Mushrooms, 2 small cans
  • Olives, 1 small glass jar, whole
  • Olives, 2 cans, sliced black
  • Dill Pickles, 1 small jar
  • Jalapeno Peppers, 1 small glass jar, sliced
  • Minced Garlic in Olive Oil, 1 small glass jar
  • Pickled Pimentos, 1 small glass jar
  • Honey, 1 small glass jar
  • Spicy Mustard, 1 small glass jar
  • Balsamic Vinegar, 1 small glass jar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 small glass jar
  • Ketchup, 1 small glass jar
  • Vinaigrette dressing, 1 small glass jar
  • Ranch dressing, 1 small glass jar

Spice Rack for RV Camper

Dry Condiments You Can Store Safely

Then there are certain dry condiments we also leave in our RV for our traveling season.

What I have here are our favorite condiments we use most often when we are cooking. And, because they are all dried goods, they will normally keep if unopened for over a year. If they have been opened but are kept sealed properly, they will still maintain their unique flavors easily for 3-6 months.

Glass Containers Wherever Possible

We try to only purchase our most used condiments from manufacturers who use glass containers.

Glass typically seals better than plastic counterparts, and the errant mouse that might slip into your RV cannot eat through glass as they can with some plastic containers. Also, the seal is usually so good that even wandering ants can't smell the potential for food inside the container and be drawn into your camper pantry.

Dry Herbs and Spices Store Well

Here is a short list of our basic favorite dry herbs and spices that we keep in our RV:

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Celery Seeds
  • Chili Powder
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Dill
  • Garlic Powder
  • Mustard (dry powder)
  • Pepper (Black)
  • Pepper (Red crushed)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Salt
  • Thyme

Then there are several seasoning mixtures we use regularly and try to keep on hand when we go camping, with our favorites being:

  • Mrs. Dash (all-purpose seasoning),
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning (or Canadian)
  • Cajun Spice Seasoning
  • Old Bay (Seafood Seasoning)

Plastic Versus Glass Containers

The question of whether you should use plastic or glass containers is debatable, but when it comes to a generally open machine like an RV that many different pests can find their way into, my wife and I opt for using glass containers whenever possible.

One year, we left our fifth-wheeler at our campsite in Virginia with plans to return for another stay in six to eight weeks. Well, it turned out that we both had some unexpected medical problems that kept us away for almost five months.

Of course, I had left a sliding door between one storage area and another of the RV by accident. Well, when we finally got back to it we did a quick inventory of our pantry, and guess what?

We had uninvited guests. Mice!

I got a couple of traps and in less than two days, we'd captured the two culprits and discarded them The problem was they'd been in our RV long enough they'd eaten our stored foods. Here is what they got into and ate:

Coffee Creamers - We both like vanilla flavor in our coffee so we'd purchased a box of 24 creamers. I can attest that mice can eat through a cardboard box and multiple plastic creamer packages.

Chips in a tube - Again, a cardboard storage tube like a box is no defense from a hungry mouse.

Pasta in a box - They got through the box easily enough, but didn’t seem to like pasta. Who knew?

Cheese Crackers and Breakfast Cereals - This one, again doesn’t need explanation.

So, what did we do? That is after we cleaned up the mess and sterilized our pantry . . .

Well, we went to the discount store and purchased a number of different-sized glass storage containers; two tall skinny ones for pasta, two square ones for cereals, and six in various other sizes for items usually in packaging a mouse would be able to get through.

We have not had any more mice get into our RV, but if they do get in, the available edible foods will be well protected.

Used Grocery Bag dispenser for RV Camper

Be Smart

In summary, you can safely leave certain packaged foods in your RV and avoid having to repeatedly take them back and forth whenever you do go on trips.

And, if you really like to cook, like my wife and I do, having your favorite spices with you all of the time is a wonderful thing.

We have often stopped at a rest area and put together some really great and simple lunch and dinner dishes, thus avoiding the proverbial bologna or ham sandwich our fellow RV travelers often eat.

And, when we pull into our campground, we are not the ones who have to find a supermarket to stock up for dinner every night!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Don Bobbitt