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How Do You Minimize Food Waste In Your RV?

a person cooking food in a pan on top of a stove with a stove top oven in the background - how to reduce food waste
It’s easy to reduce food waste in an RV.

How To Reduce Food Waste In An RV

These days, food waste is a real problem for most people. According to the UN, 17% of world’s food production is thrown out. Food waste is bad for the planet because when food is wasted, the resources that went into producing it are wasted. On top of that, the thousands of tons of food rotting in landfills release methane gas that contributes to climate change in a big way. While we waste a lot of food at home, food waste can be even worse when we RV.

But reducing food waste isn’t just about saving the planet. Whether we’re at home or away from home in the RV, rapidly rising inflation on the price of food (not to mention campgrounds, fuel, and everything else) has many families thinking about ways to minimize food waste. If you’re wondering how to reduce food waste in your RV, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll look at 10 creative ways you can keep food out of landfills and on the table.

Here’s how to reduce food waste in your RV, so you can save money and help save the planet at the same time.

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1. Plan meals ahead of time

Planning meals ahead of your trip allows you to know exactly what you’ll need and avoid buying groceries you don’t need. You can take stock of the ingredients you already have and then make an itemized list, knowing exactly what you’ll be using.

If you’re stuck for ideas, there are many meal-planning apps that will help you to plan meals your family will love.

2. Keep your RV refrigerator in good working order

Your fridge temperature needs to be 35-38°F (1.6-3.3°C) to keep food fresh. Your RV refrigerator was made to keep food in this temperature range. However, there are things you need to do to keep your fridge running at peak performance.

Here are a few ways to help your fridge stay cold enough to avoid food waste:

  • Cool your refrigerator for at least eight hours before loading it with food
  • Defrost your refrigerator frequently
  • Only operate your RV fridge when you’re parked on a level spot. 
  • Put ice packs in your freezer to help keep things frozen when you travel
  • On hot days, park with the refrigerator side on the shaded side of the RV 
  • Keep track of RV maintenance with RV LIFE Maintenance

3. Make a shopping list 

Having a shopping list (and sticking to it) will allow you to avoid spending money on groceries that will wind up going to waste. 

4. Don’t buy more Produce than you need

We’ve all been there. We’re shopping for carrots, but boom. There it is. A family pack of Deluxe Salad Mix at an amazing price. So we convince ourselves that we should be eating more greens anyway and tuck the pack into our shopping cart.

When we get back to the RV, we carefully rearrange the limited space in the fridge until the cumbersome pack of lettuce fits in perfectly. It’s a bit camouflaged under the other food in the fridge, but we know it’ll be there next time we open the fridge. As a matter of fact, later on that day, we have an enormous, delicious, abundant salad. We rearrange the fridge again and carefully replace 7/8 of a family pack of Deluxe Spring Mix, patting ourselves on the back for being so healthy.

After three days of this, salad begins to become less appealing. Now, eating salad is more of a chore than anything else. By the time we’re halfway through the plastic box of greens, it starts to look wilted. It’s now way easier to ignore. After that, it starts to compost, and we throw it out. We resolve to never buy another family pack of salad again.

Don’t let this happen to you. Face reality and only buy the appropriate amount of fresh produce for your needs. If you don’t always eat salads, chances are you won’t change your ways while you’re traveling or camping in your RV. 

5. Cook more than one meal at a time

Cooked food has a longer shelf life than raw food, so it makes sense to cook more than one meal at a time. Doing meal prep will also save you time that you can spend doing fun things like sightseeing.

Using an electronic pressure cooker like an Instant Pot allows you to cook multiple delicious meals at once. You can put the leftovers into containers and refrigerate or freeze them for another day.

6. Store leftovers in microwave-safe containers

Your RV microwave was designed to make it super easy to reheat meals or leftovers. Storing prepared meals in microwave-safe containers lets you easily reheat food without any hassle.

7. Freeze leftover herbs like cilantro, basil, and parsley

Fresh herbs can make a world of difference in a recipe. However, a bunch of fresh cilantro or parsley tends to wilt quickly in the fridge before it gets completely used up. Herbs are easy to freeze in plastic bags for later use.

8. Dehydrate leftover fruits, vegetables, and herbs

Dehydrating leftover fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a simple way to preserve them for later use. It’s easy to do in an air fryer. Most air fryers have a dehydrator setting that makes it an absolute cinch to dry food. In general, food that’s no more than 1/4 inch thick will dehydrate in about four hours in an air fryer.

9. Use leftovers to Make delicious Instant Pot soups

Leftover vegetables or meats will help to enhance the flavor of soups that you can make in your Instant Pot pressure cooker. I recommend using an electronic pressure cooker so you can release pressure outside to avoid creating moisture inside the RV.

10. Find ways to use leafy produce

Leafy produce (like spinach, arugula, and lettuce) tends to go bad faster than other produce. You might need to get creative to avoid letting it become food waste. The truth is, any leafy green produce can be used in a multitude of ways, not just for salads. Here are some delicious ideas to help inspire you:

Wondering how to reduce food waste? This video has lots of great ideas! 

Get tips from other RVers

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.

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