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How To Set Up An Outdoor Kitchen At Your Campsite

Outdoor Kitchen
Our DIY outdoor kitchen and dishwashing set-up. All photos courtesy of Teresa Filgis

How To Set Up An Outdoor Kitchen At Your Campsite

Cooking outdoors is one of the best things about camping. I myself thoroughly enjoy it. Being out in the wide-open space while I make a meal, whether I’m grilling or using the griddle, is just another way to enjoy nature. Watching the hummingbirds and dragonflies while I’m getting dinner ready for the family is a lovely way to spend an evening.

That being said, cooking outdoors also means dishes outdoors. Dishes that have to be washed.  Dirty dishes that I don’t want to haul all the way back up to the camper.

Our camper has a nice-sized kitchen area as far as campers go, but of course, it’s still small.  I have owned several RVs over the years that had practically no kitchen space at all. Usually, it’s just easier to do the dishes outside. I decided that for our permanent spot it was time to invest in an outdoor sink.

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Whether you are a stationary RVer or a traveler, setting up an outdoor kitchen/washing area just makes things a little tidier as you go along. This is especially true if you are camping with kids. Even when we hauled our RV back and forth to the lake, one of the first things I would do after unloading groceries was set up my outdoor kitchen/washing station.

Outdoor Sink
Use a Reliance Aqua-tainer for water

Our dishwashing setup

I always had my big washing bins set out on my table, my blue water jug full, and a bottle of dish soap on hand. My new set-up isn’t much different. Now instead of the bins, I have a three-compartment aluminum sink.

Now our camper came equipped with a small outdoor kitchen area. But that’s the problem. It is tiny. It’s definitely more of a handwashing station at best. It holds an itty-bitty sink, an outdoor microwave that we have never used, and a mini-fridge.

The mini-fridge is a nice convenience. However, all that being said, there is simply no way to wash dishes here. We cook at the campsite 90% of the time. That means there is a continual rotation of dishes that need to be cleaned.

So my husband and I were on the lookout for an industrial sink that we could use outside. We wanted to add it to our pavilion area. After being on the hunt for a while, one fell into our laps. For only $50.00, we found the perfect sized sink. It was exactly what we were looking for. And the price was spot on!

Before hauling the sink to the lake, we pressure washed it and spray painted it underneath. I used Rustoleum exterior spray paint in flat black. This sink was really light, considering the size.  This made it easy to haul and move around. I have it situated between my Lifetime outdoor table and my grill.

Luckily, when we got this sink, it still had the PVC piping under the three compartments, which was super convenient. The PVC connects the three compartments together to run out of a single pipe when you drain the water.

Now there is a lot you can do with a set-up like this. You can connect a hose to have the water run out and away from your kitchen/grill area. Or you could use a bucket for the water drain and dump the gray water in the woods.

We chose the latter option, as it was more convenient at the time. Every time the dishes were done, the gray water was tossed. No problem.

outdoor kitchen
Don’t forget to hang a roll of paper towels

I have my griddle and table out there as well, and voilà, my outdoor kitchen and washing area is complete. It gives me great pleasure knowing that I won’t just be stuck in the camper doing dishes while the rest of my family is off riding the golf cart or kayaking on the lake.

They all do their fair share of the work to keep our lake spot looking good. But I seem to get stuck on kitchen duty more often than not. Having an outdoor kitchen and washing station helps to make the chores a little bit easier!

For more dishwashing tips, check out our previous article, 8 Tips For Washing Dishes In Your RV