We usually go on a camping trip to escape our daily routine, take a break from our day-to-day life, and just relax in nature. However, cooking in the wilderness can sometimes be frustrating. From the limited food options to the lack of cooking equipment and the hassle of preparing food outdoors, it can quickly turn a vacation into an unpleasant experience. That is why we have come up with tips to help you enjoy a delicious camping adventure.
Cooking outdoors and away from the comfort of your kitchen can be intimidating, frustrating even. But, who says you can’t bring your kitchen to the wilderness? Check out this article about our top recommendations for the best camping cookware for all budget and sizes.
15 Cooking Tips for Camping
1. Plan and prep ahead
Planning your meals before heading to the campground is the best tip you may want to take note of. Measure, peel, cut, marinade, and securely pack and label your meals ahead of time. Write down a meal plan and prepare as it will save you a lot of time. Store your veggies, marinated meat, fruits, etc., in stasher or Ziploc bags.
2. Freeze food items
Freeze your soups, rice, meats, water, etc., to make them last longer, especially if you are camping for more than one night. It is also good to cook fresh food items on your first day and use the frozen items for the following days. Freezing your food is also a way to keep the cooler’s temperature down. You can also freeze your juice boxes and water bottles so they can act as ice packs in the cooler. This can also save you more space as you do not have to stuff actual ice packs in the cooler.
3. Use aluminum foil
A supply of aluminum foil is also a must when you are planning to cook during a camping trip. These can keep your food warm or covered for later. Use aluminum foil over your grill or when cooking over an open fire.
4. Opt for heavy-duty aluminum bags
For quick and easy cooking, use heavy-duty aluminum bags for they will allow you to mix in all your ingredients and take almost no room when packed. Aluminum bags can be easily used over the fire or on a camp stove to give you more cooking options. Plus, they are very easy to clean.
5. Select the right cookware
Take only the cooking equipment you plan to use, like a pot, pan, skillet, grill, etc. Planning your meals ahead will help you determine what cookware to bring, but you should think of ways to save space, so we recommend bringing a cast iron skillet as it is durable and versatile enough to be used for any meal.
6. Heat the cleaning water while you eat
It is better to heat the water you will use for cleaning dishes over the fire or camp stove right after cooking your meals. In this way, you will save time as you do not have to wait for the water to warm after eating.
7. Prepping the cooler
To keep food cool for longer, put ice in the cooler and let it chill for 30 minutes before packing your food. And to make it easier to locate your food items, pack those you want to consume first at the top.
8. Use squeeze bottles
Another useful tip is to put condiments, pancake batter, oil, scrambled eggs, dressings, etc., in squeeze bottles to save you time from using other utensils and make it easier to cook. Additionally, if the squeeze bottle gets cold, just warm it up by placing it in warm water. If you do not have squeeze bottles, wash and reuse disposable water bottles instead.
9. Pack freeze-dried meals
This is a good option if you want to save space and do not want to bring a cooler. These freeze-dried meals are ideal for backpackers and campers who choose to pack light. You only need to add hot water inside the pouch. Make sure you check the pouch’s directions for specific instructions on how to rehydrate your meal.
10. Test the camping stove
Getting to your destination and finding out that your camp stove is not working will ruin your meal plans. That is why it is best to check your camp stove before leaving. Make sure it is clean and you have enough propane tanks to fuel the stove for the duration of your trip.
11. Keep food items locked up
You should keep your food locked in a storage or chuck box to prevent animals from picking through it. Keep your storage container high up in a tree or in your car to prevent wild animals from getting attracted and to protect you and the rest of the group.
12. Coat the exterior of your pans and pots
To make cleaning your pots and pans easier, you should coat the outside part with dish soap before you start cooking. This will allow any food outside of the pan to easily fall off once you wash it. When applying dish soap, make sure to avoid surfaces that can reach the food you’ll be cooking as it would not taste good.
13. Cover your food
To keep insects out of your food, you need to cover your pans and pots and put lids on any food containers. Covering the pot or pan while you are cooking will also help your meal cook faster.
14. Use candle wax for wet wood
If you want to start a fire in the rain, put pieces of candle wax beneath your firewood. They will act as fuel and keep things hot enough and dry out the wood. However, doing this can take a while depending on how drenched the wood is, so be sure to pack plenty of wax and tinder. You also need to get the firewood off the ground so that it will be drier.
15. Clean with salt
Many campers and backpackers use salt to disinfect and clean their cookware because it is cheaper and lighter to carry than dish soap. Plus, you’ll bring salt for cooking anyway. Put a few spoonful of salt on your dishes as it will act as a disinfectant and scrub crusts off pots and pans.
Cooking outdoors while camping is always a fun activity but sometimes it can be a bit of a hassle. What if you forgot to pack your camping cookware? To remedy this situation, you have to be a bit creative and utilize what you have on hand. Read our article to learn how to cook without utensils when camping.
What is the best food to take camping?
Dehydrated food may be the best food to bring on a camping trip because it is easy to pack and requires minimal cooking. It is also very convenient for anyone who finds cooking a challenge.
Aside from dehydrated food, here is a list of items you can also bring:
Trail mix, nuts & bars
These are also easy to carry and prepare before hiking and camping. They offer enough energy to fuel you during your hike to the campsite and make a good snack to munch on while lounging.
Instant mac & cheese or cup noodles
These are lightweight food items that will only require hot water.
Dried fruits & beef jerky
Dried food items do not spoil easily and are easy to prep, clean, or cook. Additionally, beef jerky is packed with enough proteins to fill you up.
Single-use coffee & tea bags
If you want to drink good coffee, try single-use coffee bags, which are fresh coffee grounds packed in a bag, like tea bags, and work the same way. Instant, powdered coffee packets, tea bags, and powdered juice are lightweight items you can pack for your camping trip.
Ingredient for s’mores
Making s’mores is a good family activity to do around a campfire. Ingredients for s’mores are lightweight to pack and easy to prep.
Pre-cut, frozen fruits
Frozen fruits are easy to prepare and perfect to snack on in warm weather. Fruits are also part of the essential food groups, which means they can provide you with a sufficient amount of nutrients.
You can also bring plain or flavored yogurt and add your trail mix and frozen fruits for a quick and hearty breakfast.
Bagels are a good source of carbohydrates and will provide you with enough energy to fuel you during a long hike to the campsite. They can be easily packed, are lightweight, and are versatile enough to be used for all types of meals.
Fire is essential for cooking, whether you’re in the comfort of your kitchen or the great outdoors. Because of the risk of forest fires, national parks, forests, and fire-prone wilderness areas often implement restrictions and bans on open flames. If you’re camping in one of these places, you need to know how to cook on a campsite that has a burn ban.
One of the struggles when camping is cooking. It can be a hassle to make food without the usual necessities, like your stove, oven, and counter space. While camping stoves are readily available, we all know that they aren’t the same as what we have at home. Thus, cooking our favorites might not be possible.
Cooking outdoors while camping is indeed challenging, but you should see this as an opportunity to learn new skills and be more creative when in comes to cooking. With the help of our tips above, you will get a hold of camp cooking in no time and will be whipping up good meals that you may want to recreate at home.