The featured image above is not my actual food storage, as I neglected to get a photo before it was eaten and disassembled. But close. Image sourced from Wild River Rogues.
One of the frequent questions I hear is “what will you miss the most about your house?” After the full-size shower with 40-gallon hot water tank, my next answer is almost always my pantry.
Although the kitchen pantry in our Redford home is small, I
have had (still getting used to that!) multiple well-stocked shelving units and an upright freezer in the basement. We kept a supply of everything from toilet paper and cereal to salmon and pork chops.
I saved money by buying in bulk at the local warehouse store and picking up items during sales. We also have a terrific fresh veg/fruit market, an Asian supermarket, and an Aldi all within a mile from the house, conveniently providing a wide variety of food at low prices.
I really enjoy the ability to make several meals a week without a lot of planning or trips to the store. I’d simply shop in my at-home pantry and freezer, supplemented with a few fresh veggies. We had a vegetable garden and did some home canning in the last two years, so I had low-salt, organic vegetables to reach for all the time.
We also enjoy an expansive palate (and the waistline that goes with it), and I have experimented quite a bit with a variety of cuisines and ingredients. Cooking Mediterranean, Asian, Indian or West African dishes requires having specific spices, sauces, and additives on hand. I need an entire drawer just for spices! and another one for oils, sauces, etc.
Downsizing to the 5th wheel means that I will have very little food storage capacity. So in the last 4 months we’ve been on a mission to use up most of the frozen food and home-canned goods, and make a significant dent in the packaged dry goods. I’ve spent very little at the market, buying only dairy, vegetables, fruits, and some meats if they are on sale.
Allrecipes.com has been a great resource in helping me figure out what to make from a rather random selection of foodstuffs. You can type in which ingredients you want to use, and it will return recipes from the site containing those ingredients. I’ve found some new favorite recipes that I plan to return to again and again.
Since we can’t keep as much on hand within the limited space of the RV, I’ll need to be a little better about meal planning, and probably reduce the variety somewhat. We’ll get more variety on the days we go out to eat at local restaurants.
With the separate upright freezer, not only did we keep a large supply of “raw” materials on hand, but I often made big pots of soups, stews, and other dishes and froze portions for days when I had no time to cook. Our current RV has only a smaller 10-cubic-foot refrigerator/freezer combo, so that’s not going to really be an option. It’s going to be a challenge cooking 2 portions instead of 4-6!
I expect to go grocery shopping every few days. It will be an adventure to learn more about regional cuisine, find the ethnic markets, and rely more on fresh vs. frozen. Hopefully living small will also help me to eat healthy — I will strive to keep fresh fruit on the counter, and potato chips out of the cupboards!
Do you have some ideas for dealing with a small kitchen space? Please share them!
Always check out local markets early am. Like right after walking Elvis. Discount items fruits, veggies, deli chickens ,fresh meats, even breads. Meals for day or two. Worked for me when in c hamper for six weeks also for one. Judy
Great tip, thanks!
Make Your Own Groceries type books will show how to make Master Mixes, so you can use the same mix to make pancakes, waffles, breaded fried chicken, biscuits, etc. without storing different boxes of stuff. I also store beans, lentils, macaroni and barley in 3 quart canning jars so they can be stored in unfriendly places like under the sink or anywhere mice might creep in.
Make Your Own Groceries type books will show how to make Master Mixes, so you can use the same mix to make pancakes, waffles, breaded fried chicken, biscuits, etc. without storing different boxes of stuff. I also store beans, lentils, macaroni and barley in 2 quart canning jars so they can be stored in unfriendly places like under the sink or anywhere mice might creep in.
We have a large inventory of heavy plastic Lock-n-Lock boxes, dinner of which I will be using for that purpose. Hoping that we won’t have mice to contend with since we’ll be full-timing in the trailer. (But boy, I am worried about the gigantic bugs I hear they have in Texas. And scorpions!)
Love your posts
Why thank you, Jeff!
-We have a food saver to keep meat because different areas have far superior meats depending on how fresh/local etc.
-Insta Pot, I know they need to rename it, but it does all kinds of cooking so it’s an all in one gadget type deal. We use ours mostly as a crockpot, because it fits in our area much easier.
-We keep one box below of extra cooking foods that we find on sale like half off, if they are light weight. That way you can still get some bargains.
– we will prep meals and freeze them sometimes with the food saver. That thing has to have saved us money with wasting less food.
– other then that we plan grocery shopping based on how long it will be til we get to the grocery store again. 🙂 I know it doesn’t work for everyone but it works for us so far.
We just don’t have much room in the freezer. (Reason #104 to get a new trailer.) I gave away the food saver but we do have Ziploc freezer bags which work just fine for short term. There are a couple of meat markets here in Texas that we want to check out. Brisket is yummy!
I got an Instant Pot a year ago and love it. (Just bought one for my Mom for Christmas, actually.) Most meals are cooked in a combination of countertop induction cooktop, convection microwave oven, and Instant Pot.
It’s only been a few weeks, so things will continue to evolve, but Shawn’s pretty happy with the cooking situation because I’m creating more conventional “American” meals (meat, starch, veggie/salad) like he prefers instead of experimenting with the vegetarian/ethnic options. As I get more comfortable in the trailer I might do more of that — or just reserve that for restaurants.
Honestly, food has taken on slightly less importance over the last month, which I think has gotta be good for both my stress levels and health. 🙂