OK, confession time. I’m a little bit addicted to small appliances.
You know the kind I’m talking about — the ones that look friendly sitting on your kitchen counter, promising, if not delivering, all sorts of culinary miracles.
Whether it’s effort-free chopped salads, home-dehydrated jerkies, or quick-as-a-flash spiralized vegetable noodles, when living in a foundation-built home, I have a tendency to accumulate what Alton Brown calls “unitaskers” in charge of each of these functions and more. And yes, that tendency comes at a cost to my pocketbook, not to mention my living space.
But RV living makes minimalists of all of us. Even in a big rig, there simply isn’t enough space to allow my appliance addiction to run rampant. I’d quickly be crowded out by my collection of As Seen on TV gadgets!
That doesn’t mean I’ve given up entirely on finding useful gizmos and accessories for when I’m on the road, however. I just have to be a little bit more judicious in my selection process. It’s actually a beneficial exercise for me anyway — the limited living space forces me to decide which appliances are really worth it. Before I buy or pack a gadget, I have to carefully consider: Will this object offer a demonstrable value, be it cost savings, time savings, or quality of life improvement, on the road? If not, there’s no room for it in my rig, plain and simple.
So if you’re wondering which supplies and appliances are best-suited for RV living, here are a few of my best suggestions.
1. Slow cooker
There’s nothing as comforting as knowing a delicious dinner will be waiting for you when you return from a long day of hiking, biking, kayaking, or exploring a new city. A slow cooker makes that tasty promise all but effort-free: just throw all of the ingredients in in the morning, press a button, and go. Plus, since I don’t (yet!) employ a live-in cook, it’s pretty much my only option if I want to come home to find dinner waiting. 🙂
Although it isn’t the smallest appliance in the world, a slow cooker offers a lot of convenience value, especially if your motorhome or trailer doesn’t have an oven. Plus, slow cooking can create a gourmet meal out of even the most modest, nonperishable, camping-friendly ingredients. In my rig, it’s a total must and completely worth the square foot or so of space it inhabits.
Personally, as a solo camper, I use a small Crock-Pot with analog controls — I don’t need much. But other campers swear by the fancy-shmancy Instant Pot, which is a combination slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker and more. I haven’t tried one out myself, but they certainly look useful. And since this appliance does take up a fair amount of storage space, it might be worthwhile to go ahead and upgrade.
2. Electric kettle and pour-over setup
In my household, coffee is non-negotiable.
And since it’s an every-single-morning — and, okay, most afternoons too — kind of ritual, it’s worth some storage space to ensure it’s good coffee I’m (constantly) quaffing. Sorry, Mr. Coffee, but a drip brewer just ain’t gonna cut it. Plus, many traditional coffee pot footprints are surprisingly unwieldy.
So I devote some counter space to this electric pourover kettle and a mid-sized Chemex. Since I live on my rig full-time and I’m serious about my love for coffee (that is, I have a bona fide problem), I also employ a high-quality burr coffee grinder. Obviously, it’s just as easy, and cheaper, to buy your coffee pre-ground.
If you’re not quite as much of an insufferable coffee snob as I am, a more modest electric kettle might do you well, and is also useful for heating up water for tea, instant soups, and other instances where you need piping hot water in a flash. It’s a whole lot quicker than trying to boil water over your burner, and it won’t use up your propane.
As far as the coffee brewer itself, there are a variety of pour-over setups to choose from, be it a simple ceramic over-mug deal to a full-on, stand-alone jobber that would be right at home in any pretentious cafe. And, of course, there’s always the good old French press as an option.
3. Mini blender/food processor
Simply put, there’s not another kitchen appliance that takes the place of a high-quality blender. And if you don’t want to give up smoothies — or, let’s be real, frozen cocktails — the entire time you’re on the road, you’re going to need to bite the Bullet… or whatever other brand of blender catches your fancy.
Small is key, but power is critical. Even if your blender barely takes up any room at all, it’s worthless if it won’t do the job. Many campers swear by the Ninja Master Prep, which functions as a blender, food processor, and chopper all in one. That means it more than pays for the space it takes up in use value, and it’s pretty darn affordable to boot.
How to Pick Your Own Best RV Appliances
When it comes to outfitting your rig with appliances and accessories, personal preference and lifestyle should play a huge role in your decision making. For instance, many families might find a toaster oven a useful enough piece of equipment to lug around. I don’t eat many bread-based meals anyway, so there’s not enough room for one in my RV… but your mileage may vary. You have to assess your own priorities in order to choose the appliances that are “worth it” in your own rig.
A few items other campers swear by include electric skillets, dehumidifiers, space heaters and high-powered fans, soda machines, and even folding laundry racks. (Not everyone’s so singularly food-obsessed as I am!)
Some devoted boondockers even invest in solar-powered ovens so they can cook their food using the power of the sun. Pretty neat, if you ask me… but not quite right for my rig yet, since my kitchen’s equipped with a regular oven.
At the end of the day, only you can decide which RV supplies and appliances best serve your individual needs. Just don’t fall into the trap of trying to bring everything you own in the name of convenience — because, trust me; packing so much stuff into your cabinets that you can’t fish out a single plate is anything but helpful.
What are your favorite RV appliances and can’t-leave-home-without-it gadgets?