Messy kitchen

Top 10 One-Butt Kitchen Mistakes

At the risk of embarrassing myself, I’ll tell you about some of the stupid things I’ve done in my one-butt kitchen so that you can learn from my mistakes.

  1. Starting to cook a meal with dirty dishes in the sink. 

    In an RV, there isn’t enough room for even a couple of coffee cups in the sink when you are cooking. Really, you’ll quickly fill up that small sink with dirty dishes as you go. I’ve learned the hard way to clean the kitchen before I start. If I’m making a meal with several dishes, I’ll even wash a few pans as I go, which is something I never do at home with a dishwasher (and a husband) to do most of the dirty work.

  2. Not reading the recipe.

    Considering the number of times I’ve done this, both on the road and at home, you would think I’d know better.  I’ll read the list of ingredients, and start throwing things together.  Then I hit a snag. I don’t have all the ingredients I thought I did or the recipe combined ingredients in a particular order. Aargh!  Now I truly make an effort to do the following three things for every recipe: First, read the entire recipe before starting. Not only do I read the list of ingredients, but I also read the directions, too. Second, confirm that I have all the ingredients. This includes checking each spice to make sure I have a sufficient quantity. Third, follow the directions. If the recipe says to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, I obey.

    not enough fennel
    A cursory glance to confirm you have an ingredient is insufficient; you must also confirm you have enough of it.
  3. Storing unlabeled spices in a drawer.

    I have a drawer that is the perfect size to hold my spices. The only problem was I couldn’t tell what each one was without lifting it up. I labeled the top of each jar, which makes it much easier to find what I’m looking for. Whenever possible, I buy spices in small jars to optimize storage space.

    spice drawer
    Labeling spices makes them easy to find in the drawer.
  4. Using the sink as a place to store food.

    I was making an orange sauce for pesto salmon. When I needed more space on the stove, I put the pan in the sink. My attention was split between cooking and chatting with our guests. When I turned on the water to wash my hands, the water went into the orange sauce. It was much thinner than it should have been, but Coke and Edna, dear friends that they are, ate it without complaints. If you simply must put a pan full of perfectly good food in the sink, make sure the faucet is not above it.

    rv kitchen mistakes
    Fortunately, the meal was still edible after I unintentionally added way too much water to the orange sauce.
  5. Using the oven to bake a pizza.

    For the first 16 years we owned a motorhome, we didn’t have an oven, just a convection microwave.  When we bought a new 2019 Winnebago with an oven, I made pizza. I followed the directions on the box and placed the frozen pizza on the rack.  The sides were fine, but there was a solid black burn line down the bottom center.  Even heat distribution is not a strong point of propane ovens. Someone suggested using a Baking Stone. It worked!  The other thing you’ll need is an Oven Thermometer since the actual temperature rarely matches what’s on the oven dial.

    how to cook in an RV oven
    A pizza stone on the rack will help to evenly distribute the heat in the oven.
  6. Expecting the cabinet doors and drawers to stay shut while driving.

    We’ve had 3 motorhomes, and each one had a bit of a learning curve. Within a few months of ownership of our first motorhome, we hit a pothole, and the door to the cabinet holding all our dishes flew open. Fortunately, I’d outfitted our kitchen with mostly unbreakable dishes. It happened again in our current motorhome.  A sudden stop caused dishes to shift and everything hit the floor. With a sharp turn, even at a slow speed, the drawer with our pans would slide open. Each time, Jim would find a fix for the problem: heavy-duty door or drawer latches, a twist tie, or Tension Rods for the refrigerator.  

    rv cabinet ties
    The twist tie on our cabinet looks a little tacky, but it works.
  7. Not checking the weather forecast before inviting a large group for an outdoor dinner.

    In 2003, we rode our mountain bikes on the Great Divide Trail, which runs from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico along the Continental Divide. We convinced friends and family to drive our motorhome for a week or two at a time while we rode. I cooked with relatively fresh food for dinner every night while bikers who were towing bike trailers were getting by on ramen noodles and freeze-dried food. In Montana, I invited two other groups we’d met along the way for dinner. I naively expected the good weather we’d enjoyed for several weeks to continue so we could eat while sitting around the campfire. No such luck! A thunderstorm struck just as dinner was served. Fourteen people squeezed into our 24-foot motorhome with barely enough elbow room for us to maneuver our forks from plates to mouths.

    Dinner in RV during storm
    In addition to these folks, there were five more people squeezed into the other end of our 24-foot motorhome.
  8. Not having a crystal ball to anticipate minor inconveniences.

    In February 2019, we left for a 2-month RV trip with a freezer full of prepared meals. Three days into our journey, the refrigerator in our 8-month-old motorhome quit working. Fortunately, this happened when we were at my mom’s house. I left the frozen foods in her freezer. We improvised by purchasing two new coolers to store our refrigerated food until we could get the refrigerator repaired at our next stop. This was one of the few times I left home without our Instant Pot. Not only did I miss having easy meals available when I was too tired to cook, but I spent hours cooking corned beef and cabbage the old fashioned way for St. Patrick’s Day. With an Instant Pot, I could have made that meal in less than half the time.

    On that same trip, we left the motorhome for a week to attend a family reunion at a fancy VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) in Scottsdale. The house had 5 bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, a pool, and a hot tub, but we couldn’t find a bowl large enough for our salad. We improvised by rinsing out a couple of plastic grocery bags for a makeshift salad bowl.

    That RV trip gave us several opportunities to go with the flow and laugh at ourselves.

    Improvised salad bowl
    We improvised when there was no bowl large enough to contain our salad.
  9. Planning a meal that’s too complicated. 

    I enjoy entertaining and cooking for friends in my one-butt kitchen. That’s gotten me into trouble a few times.  Even though my stove has three burners, it’s not practical to use them all at once. One large skillet and one medium pan are all I can reasonably fit on my cooktop. When I plan my menu, I also think about where I’m going to cook it: grill, stovetop, oven, or microwave. I’ve also learned to take shortcuts on some recipes without sacrificing quality.

  10. Overcrowding my workspace.

    Once I opened a package of powdered sugar to make dessert and placed it on my crowded countertop, promptly knocking it over in the sink. As a result, I used less sugar than the recipe called for, but we liked the less sweet version better. Maybe there was an angel above watching me, saying, “No! That’s too much sugar. I can fix that.”  Sometimes those little accidents work out for the better.  In general, I try to keep my workspace less cluttered.

    kitchen mistakes
    An overcrowded countertop can lead to perfectly good food going down the drain or in the trash can.


  1. I LOVE the photo of your grocery bag salad! 😂

  2. Tina Smith

    Thanks for all the tips, we have used a few of those tips too. Hope we can meet up sometime soon. Tina

  3. Fun reminders, Mary! Especially the one about checking the amount of each ingredient you have BEFORE starting a recipe. Ugh. (This reminder comes too late for me this week 🙂

  4. Deb Robinson

    Great tips! I will keep several in mind for future travel. I had a couple chuckles, too… been there, done that! Several times I’d be making a recipe and say, “Oh darn, I forgot the (whatever).” My husband who was sitting relaxing reading the news would chime in, “Well, use (such and such) instead!” He’s come to my rescue several times!

    • Mary Zalmanek

      The day after I posted the 10 mistakes, that not-reading-the-recipe thing got me again. Oh, well. It was still good.

  5. Marylin Warner

    I with Leisel, loving the grocery sack salad! Things always taste better when you can smile at the presentation!


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