Camp Cooking: What You Need to Know

One of the best things about summer is being able to enjoy the outdoors. Especially after being cooped up at home during the long, cold months, being able to step outside for some fresh air is a blessing in and of itself. No matter how much of an introvert you consider yourself to be, you can’t deny the sense of freedom and joy that you get just by being surrounded by nature for a few hours every day. What is even more exciting, is getting to share the great outdoors with your loved ones. Camping must be one of the most common outdoor activities that both adults and children love. However, planning and organizing for camping can be quite daunting, especially if you will be cooking. 

If you are preparing for your next camping trip right now, read on below to find everything you need to know about camp cooking.

Preparation is Key

Camping sites are often remote and isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city, so you have to be fully prepared beforehand. A week or two ahead of your camping trip, you should make a list of everything you will need to pack. The best way to go about it is to work backward. Decide on the meals you will be preparing for each day you’re in camp and the number of persons you will be cooking for, then make a list of all the ingredients that you will need. From that list, you can then work out a shopping list for the items that you are short on. However, bear in mind that you will be needing more food than what you normally eat at home as the increased physical activity will leave everyone always hungry. By preparing ahead, you can be sure that you are not leaving out any of the necessities for your trip. 

Invest in a Camp Stove

A camp stove will become your trusted camp companion that you can’t do without. Find one that is light enough to travel with, yet also sturdy enough to last you for years to come. Wood burning stoves are more affordable and reliable than jet fuel ones, so keep that in mind when shopping for a new camp stove. If you’re looking for the best firewood for a hot fire, Chris Wilson from suggests kiln dried logs for several reasons. As a nature lover, you will appreciate the fact that kiln-dry logs will give you clean burning with limited emissions due to the low moisture content. Who said that you have to choose between efficiency and sustainability. However, you will need to make sure that you are storing your dried logs properly if you want consistent results every time. 

Learn Basic Troubleshooting Techniques

Now that you have your new camp stove, you should take the time to learn about some basic troubleshooting techniques in case you need them. If you are camping somewhere far outside the city, you will need these skills to be able to cook and feed everyone. Your best bet is to let the salesperson selling you the camp stove tell you everything you need to know about it. Ask a lot of questions and write down the steps that you will need to follow to make sure your camp stove doesn’t fail you. To be even more prepared, you can watch videos online and read about other people’s experiences with similar camp stoves and how they were able to handle each. 

Find the Perfect Location to Set up your Stove

The first thing you should do once you arrive at the campsite is to find a safe place where you can set up your stove. This should be far enough from your sleeping tents and preferably away from the sight of intruding animals. You will also need to mind the wind direction to make sure it is working with your stove not against it. Set upon a clear ground, free from grass and away from tree branches that can easily catch on fire. Until you fulfill all of these conditions, do not take any chances and start the fire. After you finish cooking, remember to put out the fire on the stove and make sure that it is out of the kids’ reach. 

Pack Reusable Tableware

Just because you are out in the wild, it doesn’t mean that you have to act like it. Pack reusable tableware that you can take along wherever you go camping. Nowadays you can find many more interesting options than the traditional plain plastic dinner sets. Get ones with fun patterns and colors that can complement the amazing food that you will be serving. Again, keep it environmentally-friendly and remember that the keyword is ‘reusable’. 

Use the Right Cookware

The ceramic cookware you use at home won’t ideally be the best option for camp cooking. Instead, put aside some money to buy a couple of iron-cast skillets and pot sets to use only when you go camping. Iron cookware is heavy-duty and can easily withstand the wear and tear over the years. The only problem is that they might be a little too heavy to transport, however, after you use them a few times, you will find that they are worth the hassle. In addition to the pots and skillets, you have to remember to pack the essential cooking utensils like oven mitts, utensils, and some tea towels. 

Not All Food is Camp-Cooking Friendly

You have to bear in mind what types of food you can cook on a campfire. Burgers, hotdogs and roasted vegetables are all great options for camp food. However, foods that need to be fried in oils are not recommended because the splatters can become quite intense and pose as a burning hazard. To make cooking even simpler, pre-marinate all of your meat back home and pack them separately in an icebox for each day you will be in camp. It is also a good idea to be ready with options for non-meat eaters, especially if your friends will be bringing along with people that you don’t know. Furthermore, you want to pick foods that have high energy content to keep you in shape for your morning hikes. While most people like to pack ready-to-eat food for camping, those aren’t always the best options. Having the essentials to prepare your food, you can afford to be selective and choose nutritious meats and vegetables that will keep you active throughout the day. 

Mind Food Safety

You are probably not as good with a camp stove as you are with your regular home one, so don’t leave anything to chance. Unless you have been using your camp stove long enough to be able to tell if the food is thoroughly cooked, it is best to use a food thermometer. Using a food thermometer will make you serve poultry and meat to your friends and family with confidence. Besides, you have to think ahead about how you are going to store any leftovers. Leaving food outside in the hot and humid weather will be a waste and you will have to throw it out. Instead, you can use the leftovers to prepare sandwiches that you can easily store in your icebox for the following day. However, if you have any doubts that food might have gone bad, it is best to get rid of it and not risk getting sick when you are out in the middle of nowhere. 

Respect the Wildlife

You are probably going to camp at special campsites that are well-equipped for this purpose. However, if you decide to go rogue and choose to camp in a random area, there are some rules that you need to follow. You have to respect wildlife and understand how you being there will affect the animals that inhabit this area. Do some research and check whether you will be able to cook safely on that campsite or you will be putting your life in danger by attracting wild animals. Furthermore, don’t leave behind any food remnants that might be fatal to the animals. For example, fruit pits and candy are not animal-friendly foods, so it is better to make sure that you pay attention to such details. 

Prepare Broth

If you are going on an extended camping trip, by the second or third day, you will be craving a hearty meal after eating lots of dry barbecue and grills. To cook a good stew or a filling chowder, you will need to have good broth on hand. Prepare some delicious broth before you go on your trip and divide it into separate ziplock bags that you can pack frozen in your icebox. Whenever you need, reach out for a bag and cook your vegetable stew like you normally would at home to keep you warm on a chilly night. 

If the weather is too hot for soups, you will still use the broth to cook your rice and pasta 

Steer Clear From Foods with Intense Odors

This is particularly important if you are going camping on one of the few famous camping spots that are usually packed with other campers. It is nice to refrain from packing foods that have intense odors when cooking just as a way of showing respect to other campers. Keep that in mind when you are packing your meats and poultry, you can still make them delicious enough without going overboard with the aromatic spices. And keep in mind that you also don’t want to mask the flavor and aroma you get from cooking on a camp stove by over-spicing. 

Don’t Forget the Dessert

No meal is complete without a satisfying dessert for closure. Kids aren’t the only ones that get to enjoy the campfire-staple smores, you can prepare some fancy dessert for the adults as well. If you have the right cooking gear, you can even manage to bake cakes and pies. You can find tons of recipes on different camp cooking websites that you can choose from. Or if you are watching your diet or just want to keep it fuss-free, nothing tastes better than grilled fruits. Peaches, pears, and pineapples are all great options, especially if you top them off with some cinnamon. You won’t be disappointed. 

Let Everyone Get Involved

One of the best things about camping is getting to spend more family time than you usually do back home. To make it even more special, you should let everyone get involved in cooking while at camp. If your kids are used to showing up at the dinner table only when everything is set, use this time outdoors to teach them new habits. Even if you do enjoy cooking yourself and get easily distracted when other people are hovering around, practice letting go and allow others to help you out. Cooking and food normally bring people together and cooking on a campsite shouldn’t be any different. In fact, it provides an even better setup for creating new memories with your loved ones and teaches everyone how to cooperate for the greater good. 

You will Need Practice

Don’t feel discouraged if your cooking skills don’t come in handy with camp cooking. It takes time and practice to perfect cooking alfresco where you have no control over the elements. Read about camp cooking and how you can manage to cook the same delicious food that you do back home. But in the end, understand that it is just another skill that you will need some time to get the hang of. 

Camping preparations can be tricky. Especially if you are going to a big group with fussy-eaters, cooking will be your biggest challenge. However, if you follow the simple tips you have read above, they will make your life easier. Assign tasks and get everybody involved in the planning phase. Whether you are a camping newbie or a seasoned one, you will need extra help. And if you are still on the fence about the whole camping thing, just give it a shot and you will see how magical this experience could be.