I live full-time in an RV and follow a minimalist, non-toxic, Paleo-style life. Here are my kitchen essentials, as well as some tips and tricks on maintaining a healthy and low-waste kitchen!
Please note that the following article contains Amazon Affiliate links. I get a very small portion of any sales generated from the purchase of items. These are my favorite kitchen items, so I hope that these links can help those seeking out a healthier or more minimalist lifestyle as well. I am not being paid by any company in particular to advertise these items.
Sometimes Less is More.
I have been interested in the minimalist movement for probably 7-8 years at this point. I honestly can’t remember how I even stumbled upon them, but The Minimalists were definitely my introduction to the lifestyle.
I spent a long time gradually downsizing and donating excess possessions that I didn’t need, or that didn’t bring me joy (why yes, I did read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up).
My husband and I made the decision around 3 years ago to (eventually) move into our RV full-time and travel the country, and as a result had lots more downsizing to do. We spent months and months (years, really) planning it all out and making donation runs and having garage sales.
We have been on the road for 9 months now, and purchased a new fifth wheel back in January. It has a beautiful little kitchen, and I am able to fit all I need to run this blog comfortably.
I’m not someone who is interested in having the latest and greatest kitchen gadgets, as you can probably tell from my super-simple recipe style. I don’t own an instant pot, an air fryer or a waffle iron.
In fact, the only electronic kitchen gadgets I own are an immersion blender, electric kettle and an electric induction cooktop.
Less is more in my mind, and you really don’t need any fancy spiralizers or expensive juicers to eat healthy, especially if you’re living in a small space.
Living and eating non-toxic and healthy is one of the most important tenants of my life. By that I mean not eating processed food, as well as trying to eliminate toxic plastics and other chemicals from my kitchen.
I’m also trying my best to consume less plastic and to reduce my food waste, so buying fresh foods as often as possible is important to me.
My Kitchen Essentials
Here is a fairly extensive list of the items I have in my kitchen. I use a lot of them on a daily basis, and any that I don’t find get used often enough to justify the space, get tossed to the curb (actually, donated, because landfills suck).
I don’t believe there is such a thing as “the perfect” cookware, as you can see from my variety of different pot and pan materials. Instead, I choose the pan to fit the meal.
- Cast iron skillet – but to prevent the leaching of iron, I do not cook acidic foods in it, and I try to keep it as well-seasoned as possible.
- A Blue Diamond ceramic non-stick skillet – the “healthiest nonstick” skillet I could find after extensive research. Even though it says you can use metal utensils in it, I am still very careful not to scratch it and use my wooden utensils most of the time. I also don’t turn the heat up very high. I use this one primarily for when I’m worried about sticking, for cooking eggs, and for acidic foods.
- Stainless steel pots, pans and bowls – the best material I’ve found in terms of toxin-free cooking, but they can be more challenging to clean if using at higher heat. I love that you can transfer from the stove to the oven, although my oven now is not quite big enough for that level of sophistication.
- Wooden and stainless cooking utensils – I try not to use plastic whenever possible, especially when cooking at higher heat. Sometimes the wooden just don’t cut it in the nonstick pan though, so I do have some plastic utensils as a backup (at least until they’ve worn out).
- Electric induction burner – This is more RV/food blog specific, but I have this for when we run low/want to conserve our propane, and also for recording recipe videos (which I need to do more of!)
In our last RV, I didn’t even have an oven! Talk about minimalist living. These are more recent additions to my kitchen, but I am so happy to be back in the land of baking.
- Aluminum pans – Our RV oven is teeny tiny, and regular stainless pans don’t fit inside it. I had to settle for aluminum here, but because I’m worried about leaching/the nonstick coating coming off, I don’t cook directly on these (or on aluminum foil).
- Parchment paper – I always use a layer of this to separate the food from the pan. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I like my food without chemicals, thank you very much. I hope to soon be getting some silicone baking mats, because they were my favorite thing ever pre-RV life.
- Silicone baking cups – While baking with silicone is relatively new, I have not found any evidence that it leaches into baked goods. I love these baking cups because they are reusable and a major space-saver. I don’t even need a muffin tin because these stand up on their own and take up way less space!
- Silicone baking mits and pot holders – I love these because they don’t get nearly as hot as the traditional cotton mits and pot holders.
Glass in an RV?! Yup, that’s right. And I’ve never had anything break either. While it is heavier, I would not trade it for plastic any day.
- Glass Rubbermaid storage containers – These are invaluable to me. I refuse to microwave in plastic, and so it’s these or I eat my leftovers cold. They don’t take much more space than plastic containers either. If you’re short on weight, you might need to re-evaluate (stainless containers sound great too!), but glass is my favorite, for sure.
- Glass ball jars for drinking and storage – Yup, you read that right. I almost exclusively drink out of ball jars these days, to reduce my plastic use down to almost nothing. When traveling, I do use a plastic lid on my ball jar, but only because it is the only thing I’ve found that does not leak.
- Glass straws – These are not exactly mandatory, but I do use them primarily when drinking lemon water to reduce the acid being exposed to my teeth. Plus, sometimes it’s just more fun to use a straw. I do like the wide ones, because they are much easier to clean.
- Plastic bins for storing and categorizing dry goods – This is one exception to my “no plastic” rule, but it’s only because it does not directly touch any of my food. These are super helpful for RVing to keep food in place while driving, but also to help categorize foods. I have one bin for spices, one for baked goods, one for storing plates and glasses, and another for miscellaneous dry goods.
- FreshWorks Produce Saver Containers – Ok, so one more exception to my “no plastic” rule. These containers are great for storing fresh herbs, fruits and veggies that I don’t plan on using immediately. They work great, and keep my herbs fresh for several weeks. So I use these occasionally to prevent food waste, but never heat anything in these.
Miscellaneous kitchen items and gadgets that we love and use almost daily.
- Corelle plates, bowls and mugs – Plain white dishes, because they are always in style! These are great because they’re super-compact and incredibly hard to break. We will likely have them forever.
- Stainless utensils, knives, measuring cups and spoons, etc – I’m a fan of stainless wherever possible. Definitely when it comes to using for cutting, scooping or measuring hot foods.
- Collapsible silicone strainer and salad bowl – These are incredibly helpful for saving space!
- Immersion blender – The perfect size blender for salad dressings and Bulletproof drinks. I use it multiple times per week. Sometimes I wish I had a regular blender too for smoothies, but we rarely drink those anyway.
- Electric water kettle – We use this every morning for coffee and tea, and even used it in our last RV, where we had zero counter space. I love this one for it’s different temperature settings.
- Aeropress coffee maker – This is for Shane only, since I don’t drink coffee. He would tell you that it makes a delicious cup, and is perfect for single cup use.
- Big Berkey water purification system – We don’t trust campground water, especially since we move spots every week. We just got this, after experiencing some pretty gross water, even with two filtering systems (Brita and an in-line RV hose filter). I will report back soon with my thoughts, but so far it has been great and the water has zero taste!
These are my favorite ways to reduce excess plastic waste at the grocery store/farmer’s market.
- Reusable shopping bags – I hope you’re using these by now!
- Reusable insulated shopping bags – Perfect for fridge and freezer items, especially if you have a long trek back to your campground or house from the store.
- Reusable produce bags – This is something I started doing more recently. Sometimes there is a lot of confusion from the cashier at various grocery stores, but I don’t mind. It’s worth the conversation to educate people!
Cleaning is also an important part of keeping your kitchen non-toxic. These are my favorite ways to clean up messes/dish washing.
- Dr. Bronners soap – We don’t have a dishwasher, so everything needs to be washed by hand. This is the best and most natural soap I’ve come across. It leaves everything squeaky clean, and leaves no residue behind. Fun fact: I also use it for washing hands and as a body soap!
- Baking soda and vinegar – Between Dr. Bronners and this classic combination, I’ve found that I can cover pretty much all my cleaning needs. Sometimes I will add some lavender or lemon essential oils to freshen up the place.
Tips and Tricks for a Healthy, Well-Organized Kitchen
- If you’re just starting out, go through each drawer/cabinet individually. Pull everything out and separate into piles: #1 things I use all the time, #2 things I use sometimes, #3 things I never use/or are broken. Get rid of/donate/sell those items in #3. Consider the frequency/functionality of those items in #2. Do I already have something that does this?
- After that initial cleaning, do an occasional “spring cleaning” every few months, and get rid of what you don’t use on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.
- Think before you buy – put those items you desire on a wish list, and come back to it a week later. Do you still want it as badly as you did previously? Does it fill a need that something you already own can’t do? If so, buy it. If not, then good, you just saved yourself space and money!
- Just because you have cabinets to fill, doesn’t mean you have to fill them. Empty space is beautiful too.
- Organize your cabinets and drawers by use. Use cheap plastic dividers or bins to keep utensils and other items neat.
- Before going grocery shopping, check what you have in your pantry/fridge/freezer. Can you use up something you have already to reduce clutter?
- If you’re pressed for space, fresh is best, so you don’t accumulate more boxes of processed foods than your cabinets/fridge/freezer can hold.
The Benefits of Minimizing/Non-Toxic Living
So what has this tiny non-toxic kitchen given me? So many things, honestly! I love minimalism because it is so freeing. I used to spend SO much time researching and putting items on Amazon wish lists that I thought I needed and would better my life.
It turns out that none of those things I wanted ever really made me feel happier. It wasn’t until I looked deeper and saw that what I really wanted was simply to be less stressed.
Clutter and spending money have always been major sources of stress for me, so finding ways to eliminate that stress has given me so much freedom to do other things.
As I mentioned above, I now put things onto a list and come back to it several weeks later. If I still want an item, I will think about the pros and cons of it. Do I have space for it, or will I have to get rid of something else? Can I afford it, or is that money better spent elsewhere or saved? Is it something that will benefit my life, help to reduce toxins in my life even more?
If not, I don’t buy it. It’s that simple. I’d rather spend my time and energy on things that mean more to me like exploring, cooking delicious food, or relaxing and reducing my chronic stress issues.
If you found this post about my non-toxic minimalist RV kitchen helpful, please let me know what you think in the comments below. Also be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest so you don’t miss another post!
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