Roughing it gets a lot more fun when you have freshly cooked food available. While we won’t judge you for subsisting off of protein bars, trail mix, and peanut butter sandwiches — we’ve done that ourselves — cooking while camping can take up your camping experience to a whole other level.
Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know to successfully cook delicious (and nutritious) meals while you’re living off the land.
The Ultimate Guide To Cooking While Camping:
BRING ESSENTIAL GEAR FOR EASIER COOKING
First off, you’ll need some equipment. Your needs may vary depending on whether or not you backpack long distances or are headed to a national park. Here are the basics we recommend:
Sometimes the campsite you’ll go to comes with a grill or fire pit. On the off chance there isn’t, A camp stove can save the day. There are a few camp stove types, including:
- Gas or propane stoves
If you’re backpacking in the backcountry, choose a minimal type of stove that would be a single burner and requires only a couple of parts.
Pots And Pans
A camp stove is only as good as the cooking tools that accompany it. The pots and pans you bring will depend largely on what you plan on cooking, as well as how much space and weight you can afford. There are specialized pots with folding handles that make camp cooking much easier.
Just like pots and pans, good utensils make eating easier. There are reusable utensils (such as this snazzy spork) that are cost-effective and easy to wash.
Well-kept food is delicious and, more importantly, stomach-safe. You don’t need to haul any gigantic coolers — a small one should be sufficient, depending on how long you’re going camping and who’s in your crew.
Pack some soap and scrubbers to keep your tools clean. Cleanup after cooking is critical, as food on your items can attract wildlife.
PLAN MEALS IN ADVANCE
Identify which meals you want to cook, which ones will not require cooking, how much food you need to buy, and if anything needs to be prepped in advance.
Choose The Right Ingredients
Choose food that can easily be cooked outdoors and require minimal cleanup. If you’re worried about losing specific spices or other critical ingredients while out, simplify your menu or divide them into smaller containers or small plastic baggies.
Prep Food At Home
Some food might require advance prep, such as marinating meats or even specific Dutch oven desserts.
TRY OUT DIFFERENT COOKING METHODS
While we’ve largely talked about the stove as an option, we don’t want to close the door on other possibilities. Here’s what to know about each camping cooking method:
Cooking Over An Open Fire
Nothing makes you feel more in touch with your wild side than building and cooking with your own fire. Use extra safety precautions, such as using long cooking rods or even putting some kind of rack over the fire to make open fire cooking safer and easier.
Easy, convenient, safe. Before you leave home, make sure your stove works. Check your fuel tank to see that it’s adequately filled and that you’ve got backup just in case.
If you’re patient, Dutch oven cooking can be incredibly rewarding and versatile. Some favorite recipes include stew, peach cobbler, or even roasts. You’ll need something to keep the food inside warm, whether it’s coal or embers from fire. You can also use a camp stove if you’d like.
Some campsites come equipped with grills, making it easy to bring out the grill master within. All you’ll need is matches (or some other fire-lighting method) and some wood. Make sure you clean up afterward for the next guests.
KEEP YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY SAFE
Even if you’re camping in a place not too far from home, there are certain risks that come with cooking outdoors, such as:
Prevent contamination and attracting wildlife by storing your food properly. Keep food in airtight containers and store it away from your camping area, either in a bear-resistant container or hung from a tree. Clean up after every meal to make sure no extra food is exposed.
Be aware of wildlife in the area and store food and cooking equipment securely. Keep a safe distance from wild animals and never feed them.
GET OUT THERE AND GET COOKIN'
Now that you’ve been equipped with the basics, now’s the time to get outside and start experimenting. Start off with some easy recipes that require only a little clean up. Once you’ve mastered that, up your ambitions so you can create some masterful, memorable concoctions.
If you’re looking for some solid cooking gear for camping, check out our catalog. We offer gear beyond just cooking for the outdoors and can suit any outdoor needs you may have.