5 Steps for Organizing RV Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

I’ve been slow to write blog posts on specific areas of the RV, and especially kitchens as everyone’s RV kitchen tends to be different. For example, our fridge is on the small side at 7.2 cubic square feet, but some people have full sized refrigerators.

Some RVers have lots of counter or cabinet space, while others have almost none. I guess, honestly, our situation is somewhere in the middle in our Winnebago Minnie Winnie. We aren’t in a van so have more cabinet space than some, but our counter space is almost nil.

I wrote another post thinking that downsizing and traveling in our RV would somehow magically make me a better person, but, alas, that has not happened. I used to get jealous if someone had a nice house, now I’m jealous if they have a big fridge! But don’t worry. Even if I can’t make you a better person, I can help you make your RV work better for you.

How to Make your RV Kitchen all it can be?

1. Pull everything out of your drawers and cabinets.

Now, if your RV is new and you are putting things into it for the first time, you get a pass here and can start with step 2.

If your RV is already in use, you need to take a deep breath and be prepared to devote some time to this. I used to tell my Nashville clients that things will get worse before they get better.

Sadly, the first step in organizing is to take everything out of the cupboards and drawers and lay it out where you can see it. The counters or your kitchen table is ideal for this, but you can use any surface in your RV. If stuff spills over to your bed, don’t panic. We will get it back where it belongs.

2. Sort items by category, then purge.

Yes, there exceptions to this rule. I’m not telling you to pitch your Vitamix if you haven’t used it, but I am asking you to be honest with yourself. If you haven’t used it in six months, will you ever? Would it be better to sell it on Craigslist or give it to a friend or a relative who has been dying to have one and will use it?

You will need to sort by category so like goes with like.  That means baking dishes together, pots and pans together, utensils together, etc.  Then, start thinking about the best place to put these items. The general rule is to have things you use the most in a handy spot. So, in my kitchen, in the prime space above the sink, I have everything I use every day. For us, that’s a toaster, our glasses, bowls, plates and coffee pods. For you, that list may be different.

storage above sink in my RV

3. Buy (sparingly!) what you need

If you thought you had a can opener but don’t, write it down and buy it during your next Target run. Or maybe when going through things, you realize you have four plates and could really use six. Make a note of that. If you have an outdoor kitchen, be thinking what needs to be kept out there versus what needs to stay inside.

This is a good time to mention that all kitchen appliances, especially those you don’t use very often, don’t have to stay in the kitchen. I rarely use my crockpot but don’t want to get rid of it because I do use it for chili and pot roasts so I put it in the bedroom cabinet where there’s more room. And that’s one of my favorite things about RVing. There are no rules. Well, I guess there are a few like don’t overload your camper, but you know what I mean.

4. Measure twice and put away once.

This sounds simple, but it’s the hardest part for most people. I’ve been organizing Nashvillians for five years and have been on the road for seven months and I’m still tweaking things.

What am I saying? Don’t panic if everything isn’t perfect the first time. Done is better than perfect so do what makes sense to you and if, after a few days, you don’t like the setup, then change it.

The thing in my kitchen that keeps moving is my trash bags. Like most people, I had them under the sink, but I didn’t love that so a week ago I got the bright idea to put them in my bottom drawer. Now they just roll out one by one and it’s the perfect solution! But it took me, an organizer, seven months to come up with that! My point is – do what makes sense and you can change it up later if it’s not working.

Did you notice that I have a paper hole puncher in my kitchen drawer?  What?  Mutiny!  No, honestly, I use it a lot and it made sense for me to put it with other objects like Reynolds Wrap that were roughly the same size.  No rules…just right, to quote Outback Steakhouse!

And…this is where you might get to shop a little if you play your cards right. Please notice that this is step four and not step one! However, if you are like most people, you will have extra containers laying around and may want to check those out before buying new.

In your regular kitchen at home, measuring isn’t quite as important because you usually have more room to work with, but I measure everything in my RV kitchen before I buy anything. My pantry is narrow so I need to make sure the bins aren’t too wide. My drawers have some height but not much depth so that needs to be factored in.

I have several great options on my resources page for kitchen storage. My favorite products for storage in RV kitchens (or any kitchens for that matter) are Linus bins, fridge bins, the carousel with sides, and multi-purpose bins from The Container Store. The multi-purpose bins  are the only things I recommend that have to be bought at The Container Store since they are exclusive to them. Everything else can be found at Target or online at Amazon.

5. Finally, re-evaluate and make changes as necessary.

Maybe you realize you want to have a place to store paper goods in your kitchen and you didn’t think about that in the initial run through. Or you decide to keep some kitchen items in your basement so that frees up some space. You need to roll with the punches and not be afraid to change something that isn’t working.

The main thing to remember in organizing your RV kitchen is that you want to make things easy for yourself. That means keeping things where you can get to them quickly and not having so much stuff that you can’t find anything.  Good luck and Happy Kamping!