I may be a food blogger, but throw me in the woods and it’s like I’ve never dealt with food before! The first time my husband and I went camping, just 1 year into our marriage, we ate so poorly we were practically starving by the time we got home. We still laugh when we look back on that trip and think about what we ate!
Even though I am older and wiser, I am still wary of cooking while camping. That said, we recently went camping with a group of people who have been going on the same camping trip to Big Sur every year for 20+ years. When it comes to camp cooking, they are experts. We ate very well the entire weekend (no thanks to me!). I was super impressed and inspired by these camping chefs and I learned a great deal about what makes cooking by the campfire successful!
6 Camp Cooking Tips 1 of 7
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to cook when camping, but these 6 tips were game-changers for me and my experience!
Plan Ahead! 2 of 7
Planning ahead seems like a no-brainer, but it is critical to success!
When Nate and I embarked on that ill-fated camping trip to Prince Edward Island all those years ago, we didn't think about the food until we arrived on the island and stepped into a tiny vacation market. Not so smart.
On the flip side, the families we camped with at Big Sur had a very serious plan in place ahead of time. Everyone was on their own for breakfast and lunch and the whole group pitched in for dinner. We kept it simple and packed cereal and sandwich supplies for during the day and then enjoyed truly wonderful dinners with the group at night. It was a great balance and we were always filled with delicious food!
Your plans may look totally different than what you see above and that is fine just make sure you have any kind of plan in place! Life will be infinitely more delicious at the campsite if you do!
(The image above is the actual dinner planning list for our camping trip with the camping extraordinaires. I had to share because it is amazingly detailed and the food was fab!)
Get the Right Tools & Equipment! 3 of 7
Don't shortchange yourself on the equipment! You don't need to go overboard or buy the fanciest stuff out there, but you do need to make sure you have the right tools so you can actually get your food cooked!
A few suggestions:
- Coolers: Yeah, yeah, you know you need a cooler, but if you are planning to bring more than a few perishable items, make sure you have ENOUGH coolers. And keeping the drinks in a separate cooler from the food is a good idea, allowing the food cooler to stay closed as much as possible. Also, block ice lasts longer than cubed ice!
- Portable fire grate (aka over fire grill): This little bit of equipment comes in super handy if you want to do your cooking over the fire, and it doesn't take up much space in the car.
- Portable gas grill: This is not a necessity if you plan to cook a lot over the fire, but having a portable gas grill really makes cooking in the great outdoors much easier.
- A good knife, a pair of scissors and a small plastic cutting board: No matter what you're eating, a knife and cutting board will always come in handy!
- LOTS of matches!
- A dutch oven, cast iron skillet and big pot (especially with a built in strainer): These items will take you far when camp cooking!
Prep Food Ahead of Time 4 of 7
Do as much of the food prep ahead of time as you can! Here are some foods that work well for this!
- Freeze your meats/hot dogs: Freeze your meat and hot dogs ahead of time. They will last longer and keep everything else in the freezer cooler, too. Make sure meets are portioned prior to freezing.
- Prep dry ingredients: If you are planning to make pancakes or do any kind of baking or cooking involving measured dry ingredients, measure all the ingredients at home. Store in a Ziploc bag then label the bag.
- Prep produce: Cut and chop any veggies or fruit you plan to use and store in Ziploc bags.
- Make freezer meals: Meals like beef stew can be made ahead of time and frozen, then simply reheated at the campsite.
Bring Lots of Drinks and Snacks! 5 of 7
Drinks and snacks are non-perishable and will keep everyone hydrated, filled with energy, and HAPPY throughout the camping trip!
Our Big Sur camping friends brought a big can of powdered lemonade and it was really handy on the trip!
Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil 6 of 7
Heavy duty aluminum foil is your friend when camp cooking. Bring lots of it!
Find Great Camping Recipes 7 of 7
A quick Internet search or inquiry on Facebook is sure to turn up a tent-load of wonderful camping recipes! Rely on those who are good at this and follow their lead! For example, I would never have thought to do a foil pasta dinner like I found on Cookin' Canuck. Genius!
Don't be scared...you CAN cook and eat well when camping! I didn't think it was possible until I learned from the best!