When you go out camping, it’s like you’re setting up your home away from home. You try to be as comfortable as you are in the woods as you would when you’re back home. Setting up your camp kitchen is as important as setting up your tent because well, eating is as important as sleeping.
Everything you would need in your camp kitchen all depends on how long you’ll be staying outdoors as you would need more food, more tools and more supplies the longer you stay. But whether it’s a weekend trip or a week-long one, there are basic tools you’ll need to have a functioning kitchen at camp.
But before we discuss the important things you need for setting up your camp kitchen, here are a few meal preparation tips before you leave for your trip:
- Make a list of your daily meals – The best and easiest way to have a good dining experience outdoors is to have your meals planned beforehand. It’s ideal to list down your meals for each day so you know what ingredients to pack and what cooking tools are needed. This is especially important if you won’t have access to a store during your trip.
- Assess your situation – When planning your meals, there are some important things to consider. Would your camping trip be relaxed, meaning you’ll mostly stay at the site and sit around a campfire? If so, then you can go for some more-involved meals. Are you planning to focus on hiking, fishing or canoeing during this trip? If yes, then opt for easier ones. Weather is also something to consider – if it’s going be hot out, plan for cooler meals like salads and sandwiches. Go for hot food and beverages if it’s going to be chilly out.
- Don’t rely on campfire – One of the best things about cooking outdoors is being able to cook a meal successfully over a campfire. While this makes you feel accomplished, it will also wear you out. Keep in mind that cooking over fire takes a lot of time and work; so when planning for your daily meals, plan a few to cook over fire and the rest to be grab and go. If you do choose to cook a meal over fire that involves meat, choose protein that cook quickly such as pre-cooked or thin-sliced meats and shrimp.
- Do the bulk of the preparation at home – While you want to enjoy delicious meals while you’re camping, you wouldn’t want to spend too much time cooking and missing out on activities or some fun. Prep as much ingredients as you can at home and pre-cook some meals if it permits, this will greatly cut down the time you spend cooking.
- Don’t forget the snacks – Don’t forget to pack some snacks and drinks for between meals, for traveling, for when you go out for some activities like hiking and fishing or even when you suddenly want a late-night bite. This is especially important if you are bringing kids with you on your trip. These snacks can also serve as your emergency food stash.
Once you’ve planned your meals, it will be easier to know what cooking gear you need. To save space, take only those that you will actually need to cook your planned meals. If you’re still having trouble figuring out what tools to bring, here is a general checklist of cooking and eating gear to help you set up your camp kitchen:
- Stove – The stove is a camp kitchen’s (or any other kitchen) heart. It cooks food easily, quickly and conveniently. Choose a stove specifically designed for the outdoors. Don’t forget to bring matches or a lighter in case of equipment failure!
- Fuel – You don’t want to be all prepped for cooking and find out that you’re out of gas! It’s important to check your fuel level before leaving for a trip and always bring more than you think you’ll need. One important thing to keep in mind is that you use more fuel at a faster rate when you cook in cold conditions or in a higher altitude.
- Cast Iron Skillet and other cookware – Invest in a high-quality reusable cookware set composed of a cast iron skillet, a compact pot and some bowls and plates to serve food in. Don’t forget a knife set, spatula, ladle, tongs, cutting board, scissors, measuring cup, colander and other cooking utensils you’ll need.
- Eating Gear – Depending on how many you are at the trip, prepare a plate, bowl, spoon, fork, knife and cup for each person. Better yet, have them each bring their own tumbler for drinking. Avoid using disposables as much as possible, but if you must, place the trash in trash bags and dispose of them properly – never leave them at a campsite.
- Cooler – A cooler is a great way to keep your drinks cold, but will also be of great help keeping packed food and leftovers from spoiling quickly.
- Lantern – A camping lantern will be your best friend while cooking at night, among its many uses. It helps ensure that your food is cooked properly (and that no bugs get in your food!). Check out our awesome Camping Lantern here.
- Extras – The small things are important and they’re often overlooked or forgotten. Be sure to pack some food storage boxes with tight lids for storing leftovers, you don’t want to attract scavengers to your site. Don’t forget your cooking oil, sponge, dishwashing soap, foil, barbecue sticks (for roasting marshmallows) cooking gloves and trash bags.
You can add a lot more to this list, depending on your planned meals or personal needs. Follow the food preparation tips and to go through the checklist above before leaving for your camping trip and you’ll surely have a great dining experience outdoors!
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