How to Pack an RV Refrigerator the Right Way (11 Practical tips!)

Whether you have an RV fridge or a full-size residential one in your rig, these 11 tips will help you make the most of the available space.

Have you been looking for tips on how to pack your RV refrigerator in the right way? Most people have been packing their RV refrigerators in the wrong way, and this has caused endless frustrations. We've researched pro tips and tricks from seasoned RV owners and share them with you here in this post.

RV Refrigerator
A typical RV Refrigerator | Photo from Wikipedia

Organize your RV refrigerator the right way and make the most of the small space is by following these tips:

  1. Plan your meals ahead of time (especially for short excursions)
  2. Get the fridge running ahead of time
  3. Avoid overpacking
  4. Add storage baskets or drawers
  5. Get rid of large packages
  6. Store food in stackable square containers
  7. Keep fruit and vegetables in mesh bags
  8. Make smart use of the RV door
  9. Use RV fridge braces
  10. Get rid of the freezer's icemaker
  11. Make sure the fridge door is secure

Not sure what a fridge brace is? What are the limits of the RV fridge door? What kind of storage baskets do you need? Then keep reading, as we explain and elaborate on each one of these tips.

With that in mind, let's start reviewing the tips!

1. Plan ahead

Unless you live in your RV full-time - and to some extent even if you are - take time and plan your menu. For instance, if you plan on using your RV refrigerator for one week, it could help to have a menu for that week.

Planning appropriately helps you take just what you need - and nothing more. Always wise when living within the confines of a smaller space. Full-timers tend to be more flexible with their meals and grocery shopping but then again, you usually have a residential fridge in your RV when you're full-timing.

2. Power on the RV Refrigerator Before you Pack It

Any fridge needs time to get cold. With your fridge back at home, you're so used to it being in operation 24/7 it's easy to forget about that.

Food, especially sensitive products like meat and dairy, must be kept cold at all times to avoid spoilage. If you're just getting into your RV for a week's holiday, or maybe renting an RV, the fridge will need to be cooled down. The RV rental agency may have already taken care of that for you - or not.

Your best bet is to time your grocery shopping so that you bring your food into the RV at least 3-4 hours after you turned the fridge on.

3. Don’t Overpack

Many people struggle in packing their RV fridges, and sometimes they end up overpacking. Overpacking might save you by carrying extra food, but in the long run, it is unwise. This is not only awkward but also potentially dangerous.

Here's why: Overpacking prevents air circulation.

Air circulation takes place when there's enough space and room between products. The RV refrigerator has cooling fans that facilitate airflow throughout the refrigerator. So, you need to avoid over-packing your food to have enough circulation.

That cool air is the thing that lowers the temperature of food products. And that lower temperature is what keeps bacteria from multiplying. In other words, poor air circulation facilitates food spoilage.

If you overpack your RV fridge, air circulation is hindered, and food spoils. That's actually a good tip for residential fridges as well. It seems that people are more prone to over-packing while on the road, so we mention it here as well.

4. Use storage baskets as drawers

When trying to make the most of a confined space, being able to pull out a drawer can really help. Most refrigerators have one or two built-in drawers but you can add to those and create an entire "pull and grab" system in your fridge.

The key here is that you're making better use of the depths of your fridge. When you pull out a drawer, you can easily reach the space that you would otherwise need to maneuver your hand into on top of other food items.

The problem is that drawers need special slides or glides in order to function properly. That's where buying baskets such as these ones can be very handy.

With that in mind, make sure the baskets are the right length, width, and height, so they fit perfectly into your fridge. Take all the measurements and plan ahead.

5. Get food out of its original packaging

No, not all food. Some foods are perfectly packaged and you'd be wise to keep them like that. However, with some items, manufacturers invest in fancy packages that contain a lot of... empty space.

That empty space may be necessary as the products are being shipped to the store but once you have them, you can save on precious space by removing the items from their original packaging. Where to put them then? Let's start talking about containers!

6. Store food in sealed containers

Compartmentalization is the name of the game with small-space storage.

Choose square boxes rather than round, to make the most of the available space. And of course, make sure they're sealed. Tight. So nothing spills out as you're driving your RV.

This set by Rubbermaid is a great option. Sleek, elegant and super practical with modular yet stackable boxes.

These boxes are great for storing meal leftovers but also as a way to sort small items and keep them all in one place. They're made of very hi-quality plastic which is important because you want to keep everything lightweight when traveling in an RV.

7. Keep fruit and vegetables in mesh bags

This tip actually has two parts to it.

First, storing fruit and veggies in bags is smart because it can save you some space. Some veggies - like broccoli or eggplant - have strange shapes, so stored in a box of any kind would mean you're losing valuable storage space.

Secondly, there's the material of the bag to consider. You should avoid using sealed bags. Plant produce needs to "breathe" and without air circulation, they will rot. Some items come wrapped in their own bags which is fine. They're usually made of materials that allow the produce to "breathe." However, you can use your own mesh bags like these to properly sort your salad materials in your RV fridge.

These light-weight bags allow air penetration, and that keeps everything fresh and crispy for longer.

8. Make smart use of the fridge door

By that, we mean that yes, you should make the most of the storage space in your RV fridge. However, keep in mind that as the RV rattles along on the road, the fridge door will get a significant amount of pressure applies to its hinges.

Which means you should avoid placing very heavy items in the door. One way of doing that is to remove condiments from heavy glass bottles and jars and use uniform plastic containers instead. Like this set, which is lightweight and comes with an easy to use cap.

9. Use RV fridge braces

Where there's a need there's a product.

RVers rave about this gadget by Camco which helps make sure items stay in place, even with the fridge isn't full to the brim with products.

It anchors to the shelf bars in the fridge and makes sure everything stays put during the ride, even when there are potholes in the road.

10. In the freezer: Get rid of the ice maker

The RV freezer is prime real estate. You can store many items there that will serve you as backups when you're away from grocery stores. You want to make good use of every square inch of space inside there.

And ice makers just come in the way.

If possible, choose an RV fridge that doesn't have an ice maker. If you can't, and you're stuck with one, you should be able to switch it off entirely and then at least get rid of the box underneath it. Or use that box as additional storage space for other items.

But do keep some ice on hand. It can get very useful at times. You just don't need an ice maker to get some ice cubes.

11. Make sure the RV Refrigerator Door Closed and secured

As with any fridge, the door of your RV fridge should be closed when you're not using it. It keeps the cold in and helps save on precious energy.

In an RV, you have the added challenge of preventing the door from opening while you're driving around. The last thing you want happening is for your RV door to open and have eggs, milk, and other items spill and soil the living space for the duration of the trip.

Fortunately, RV fridge doors come with latches. Just make sure you use it and that your fridge is indeed secure before you get on the road.

How much room is there in an RV fridge?

If you're new to RVing and reading this post while planning on buying your first one, you may be wondering about the storage room available for implementing all of these tips.

For now, we'll just mention that there are two types of fridges in motorhomes, travel trailers, and 5th wheels: A regular RV fridge and a residential fridge. Be sure to check out this post for a more comprehensive understanding of these fridges.

When you buy an RV, it comes with its own pre-installed fridge. The smaller units, especially travel trailers, usually, have standard - and smaller - RV fridges. Larger motorhomes (especially Class A) and 5th wheels usually have residential - larger - fridges.

According to  Norcold, the leading manufacturer of standard RV fridges, their full- size RV fridges are either 9.5 cubic feet or 12 cubic feet of storage space. These are not residential fridges though. They're still significantly smaller than those.

A residential fridge, such as the one you'd expect to find in a high-end Class A motorhome or 5th wheel is likely to be at least one and a half times to double that size, measuring at 18-21 cubic feet of storage.

Hopefully, your RV has the fridge that you actually need - and that the tips here will help you make the most of that space.

Happy travels!



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