Your message in a bottle: Go with plastic.
The major way that an RV refrigerator differs from a normal refrigerator is that an RV fridge will be cruising down the highway at 60 miles an hour! No matter how well you pack it, it’s a challenge to prevent the fridge door from swinging open on the road. You don’t want contents spilling inside it – or outside of it onto the floor.
Luckily, there are some tried-and-true things you can do to protect your fridge from these disasters. First, make sure to get some RV refrigerator tension bars. These contraptions are really effective at keeping your fridge door closed while you drive. Of course, you should also be sure not to make your fridge door too top-heavy or overloaded with items, as this will also help it to stay shut.
Second, make sure to buy some bungee cords to keep everything in place in your fridge. Bungee cords can be used for keeping plastic containers tight on the shelves, keeping drawers within the fridge closed, and keeping the door of the fridge closed.
Lastly, make sure to transfer any liquids in glass containers into plastic ones before you leave. If you don't want to invest in more containers, you can start saving plastic soda bottles and containers long before you leave for your trip so you have extra places to put juices, salad dressings, condiments, and anything else that comes in breakable glass containers. Just make sure to rinse them well before reusing unless you enjoy random flavor additions.
Repack. Stack. Snack.
Another tip for packing your refrigerator is to take everything out of the package it comes in and repackage it in the most efficient way possible before you load it all into the fridge. This will vastly improve the amount of storage space in your RV fridge.
Pro tip: Stack similar-sized items on top of each other (for example, carrots, celery, and yogurt tubes can be stacked in long tubes on top of string cheese and hot dogs). Things can be arranged Tetris-style to make the most of the space in your fridge.
When you're going through this food storage process, throw any extra packaging away, and pack everything in transparent bags or plastic containers of a convenient size. Keeping your packaging transparent will make everything easy to find no matter what shelf it gets stored on.
It’s essential to remember: you can't pack an RV fridge so tightly that there is no air circulation. This will lead to overheating and food spoilage. Make sure the top shelf is filled with your smallest, lightest items, and keep space between each item in the fridge to keep your food cold. (Keep in mind that there are cooling fans you can buy to help improve refrigerator air circulation when you need it.)
When it comes to packing your RV freezer, the same rules apply. Make sure to buy containers that fit together like a puzzle to hold your food items, and take everything out of bulky boxing before it goes in.
Plan your meals.
RV refrigerators are small, and when you're out camping in the middle of nowhere, you rely on your groceries more than ever. This is why it’s absolutely essential to plan meals before you leave for your trip.
Meal planning will make it easy to stock an RV kitchen with everything you need. It will also help you make the most of your fridge space as you think of creative ways to mix and match different meal ingredients ahead of time.
Stocking your kitchen with specific RV-themed meals is a helpful way to keep you focused on one-dish meals like soups and stews. It also helps you avoid too much fresh produce in your meals and use as much preserved food as possible. But don't worry, there are RV recipes that still make space for delicious fresh fruits and veggies and meats.
Some great RV staple meals are campfire eggs and bacon in the morning, sandwiches with deli meat and nuts for lunch, and fire-grilled burgers with coleslaw for dinner. Get your complete grocery packing list by downloading our RV Packing Guide.
Give yourself creative license
Hopefully these three tips have helped you visualize how to pack an RV refrigerator for ultimate efficiency and organization. However, keep in mind that as good as it is to plan ahead, there is something to be said for spontaneity.
For example, it's not a bad idea to put off buying some heavier food items until you arrive at your destination. This will keep your RV lighter and give you a chance to stop at the local store and see what they offer. You can also leave some flexibility in your meal plan to embrace whatever delicious finds you discover during your trip. Just remember to pack the basics, and bring along all of the tools you need to keep your fridge shut tight!
Now that you’re ready to pack your fridge, check out our Packing an RV guide for much more on all things packing.