How to avoid a mountain of dishes in an RV (or small kitchen) sink

How to avoid a mountain of dishes in an RV (or small kitchen) sink

Hi, there. My name is Matt. I’ve been living in an RV for a year and a half, traveling around the country to see friends, family, and whatever National Park happens to catch my eye, all while working remotely as a web developer. It’s been a blast, and I like to think I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to manage life with minimal space.

Full-time RV living is all about doing the most with what you have available. While space-saving features have improved over the years in most rigs, there still isn’t much room available for a monster kitchen sink or acres of counter top.

Consider that by the time you’ve chopped and sauteed an onion (a common cooking chore for many recipes), you may have dirtied some or all of the following:

  • 1 chef’s knife
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 medium bowl (to hold the chopped onion, especially if you need the cutting board for something else)
  • 1 butter knife (to cut a pat of butter)
  • 1 wooden spoon (to stir the onions)
  • 1 medium skillet (for sautéing)

It quickly adds up, and before you know it there are tiny mountain climbers ascending the newly formed Mount Dirtydish that sprung up in your sink. Most of these things can go into your dishwasher if you live in a standard sized home, but since the majority of RVs don’t have that luxury, you end up stuck with the space and convenience of studio apartment-style living.

How did I manage to sanely live in an RV while still cooking for myself? It’s all about simplification and multi-tasking cookware.

There are recipes out there that utilize no fewer than three different pots and pans to sauté, steam, boil, or poach your way to a delicious meal. I’ve pretty much thrown these recipes out because they are a one-way trip to a stack of dirty dishes three feet high. I realized that I needed to start creating meals that use the same cookware to prepare multiple ingredients.

I love things like crockpots and enameled cast iron cookware that can go from stove top to oven to table. You can do all your cooking in one pot, thereby eliminating extra cookware from your sink at the end of the meal. Fried rice or hash also make for great meals because they are so easy and because you can do all the cooking in one pan. Simple, time saving, and I’m not left with a mountain of dishes when all is said and done.

In addition to one-pot meals, I also commit to using just one knife — usually a good chef’s knife — that I rinse off between chopping and carving, if necessary for sanitation.

You can easily do the same to keep Mount Dirtydish from taking over your kitchen, whatever its size.

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