Make a Small Kitchen and Small Sink
in a Truck Without Plumbing

Many commercial motor vehicles don't even have a small kitchen or a small sink. But if you want to save money by cooking and eating in your truck instead of constantly having to eat your meals in restaurants or from truck stop offerings, you may have to create a set-up like we did.

We have described on our food and recipes page and meal preparation page how we go about making some of our favorite foods in our truck. We have also described some food storage ideas. Below, we'll share with you some more ideas in greater depth.

Before we delve in, we should explain that every driver's situation may be completely different. The types of meals you like, the types of appliances you use and the space you have in your truck all play a factor. For example:

  • if you are an owner-operator with a custom rig, you may have a lot more room to "spread out" than a driver in a company-issued mid-roof sized tractor.
  • if you like microwave foods, perhaps all you may need to eat hot meals are an inverter, a microwave oven, a surface upon which to put the appliance, a plate or bowl, and some cutlery.

We're going to explain what we did via photos in trucks we have had over the years. As you'll be able to see, all it takes is a little creativity and some available space in your truck's cab to make this work. It really isn't that hard!

Small Kitchen in a Truck: Storage Room

This photograph shows numbered articles we packed in our truck at one time (lower bunk is up, showing storage room beneath):
1. shower bag;
2. small crock pot;
3. electric skillet;
4. inverter;
5. foods: canned, bagged and boxed;
6. foodstuffs on top of a microwave oven;
7. gallons of water;
8. portable toilet; and
9. space for an ice chest.
A photo of where items were stored near and under the bunk of a commercial motor vehicle.

In the cabinet above the microwave oven storage area, we stored our dishes and utensils. In the cabinet above that, we stored more non-perishable foodstuffs.

Cooking and eating utensils being stored in a truck.

In this photo, Mike is inserting a knife in between other eating and cooking utensils that were being stored (at the time) in a glass canning jar.

The unfortunate thing was that after awhile with the movement of the truck, the metal utensils would start to "clink" inside the jar -- either against the glass or against other metal utensils.

To fix that problem, we moved most of our utensils (except for an oversized pancake turner and oversized ladle) into a large flip top plastic storage box. This worked out much better.

We stored the oversized utensils on a vinyl covered hanger that we hung from the lip of the upper bunk along the back wall of the sleeper berth. In fact, we ended up hanging a goodly number of things in this manner.

Small Kitchen in a Truck: Setting Up a Place to Cook

During the days that Mike drove a Freightliner Columbia which had an open space under the cabinet behind the driver's seat, that's where we would store our ice chest. Storage room under a cabinet in a large truck for an ice chest.

Pulling our ice chest out from under the cabinet in a large truck, getting ready to use it as a small kitchen counter top. When we were ready to fetch ice -- or use the ice chest as a make shift counter top -- Mike would pull it out. Notice the different hinges where we had to replace one.

In this photo, Mike is setting up a classic small kitchen makeshift countertop in his truck on top of the ice chest. See the oversized pancake turner in the foreground.

Mike devised an easy way to take care of garbage and trash in the truck: he looped one opening of a plastic grocery bag on the arm of the passenger seat. Once we had sufficient items in one, we would tie it up, throw it out and replace it.

A small kitchen countertop has been made on the top of an ice chest.

Alternatively, we have used a large cutting board on top of the lower bunk as a cooking surface, such as when we were preparing macaroni and cheese. The cutting board used here is similar to the one shown at right.
Using a large cutting board as a small kitchen counter top on top of the lower bunk in a large truck.

Small Kitchen in a Truck: Cleaning Up in a "Small Sink"

Here, Vicki is washing our electric skillet with soapy water in our makeshift small sink in our created small kitchen.

All we used was a dab of Dawn dishwashing liquid (the blue non-antibacterial variety) and water that we had obtained from a water vending machine.

Vicki washes dishes in an electric skillet in a semi tractor trailer.
A dab of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid has been added to the electric skillet for washing dishes in a truck. Water from a gallon storage jug is added to the electric skillet so dishes can be washed inside a semi tractor trailer.

Mike washes dishes in his big truck. Even though a chore, he saved big money by eating a home cooked meal in his truck. Yes, Mike got into the dish cleaning, too. Here, he's wiping the edge of a plate that we've just eaten off.

Cleaning up after making "messy" meals like gravy or beef stroganoff or skillet-prepared cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese can still be done pretty easily this way.
After washing, we would rinse and dry the dishes.
Cleaning up after messy meals can be done pretty easily in a large truck.

Dumping dirty dish washing water into our portable toilet. The toilet was depository for waste wash water until we dumped it.

When we were done washing dishes, we dumped the water into our portable toilet, which in this photo had been placed temporarily on the driver's seat.

If our meal preparation called for using our hot pot, we would use that as the small sink in our small kitchen.

The neat thing about using these appliances to clean in was that we could warm up the cleaning water. Some truckers with fancier trucks may have built-in sinks, plumbing and water heaters.

In photos above, we may have used a baby wipe as a dishcloth. But there were times when we used regular cloth dishcloths.

To dry them out, we would hang them (or dish towels or both) on a plastic hanger that we would hang in the sleeper berth.

We dried them out to keep them from molding or mildewing or creating problems in the laundry bag until we were ready to wash and dry clothes in a laundromat.

Drying out a dishcloth and dish towel in a large truck after washing dishes in a created small kitchen.

As you can see, we had to improvise a good bit in order to make our small kitchen and small sink work in our trucks. Please understand that we developed this system over the years. It did not happen all at once or from the very beginning of our time in trucking. Customize a system that works for you.

truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: We recommend using regular household appliances connected to an inverter rather than using 12-volt products. Not only is it the case that many 12-volt products simply don't last long, but if you ever get out of your truck -- such as staying in a hotel room or coming off the road altogether -- you won't be able to use them in AC-powered outlets.

You can save a lot of money by making meals in your truck as opposed to eating out in restaurants. Even if you decide to eat things that are commercially canned or freeze dried, you can still usually eat less expensively than buying restaurant food.

In some cases, you may be able to wash your dishes at a company terminal where you have access not only to hot water but a larger sink and drainage. Check your facility if in doubt.

You can rewarm many meals or entrees pre-made by your home support team in as little as a crock pot plugged into an cigarette lighter style inverter.

If your company forbids the use of an inverter, folks there may need to be informed about the cost of eating meals out. Tell them how you want to be able to set up a small kitchen in your truck. Not only will you be able to save money, but you provide an aspect of security for your rig and your load by staying in your truck. It can be a win-win situation for both of you.

Return from Make a Small Kitchen and Small Sink in a Truck Without Plumbing to our Meal Preparation page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.

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