Tips and Tricks for Cooking Whilst Camping

cooking while camping outdoors tips tricks
Credit: Chris Holder

After a long day running around in the outdoors, a good hearty dinner is what every camper’s stomach is growling for. Food never tastes as good as at this moment. However, cooking food whilst camping is never the most exciting or fun activity. This is especially so as there are so many other activities that you would rather be doing. Fortunately, there are a few tricks in a guide to cooking when camping we can use to make camp cooking and the resulting clean up easier and more efficient!

cooking over an open fire great outdoors sundown
Credit: Ian Keefe

Pack Your Items in an Orderly Manner Beforehand

It’s always a hassle when you begin unpacking to cook your meals. Everything’s mixed up and you always end up spending extra time sorting your perishables from your non-perishables. Or, your defrosting meat has accidentally soaked your stack of paper plates. Well, instead of doing that, why not consider packing and sorting everything beforehand!

Perishable food items can all go into one exclusive cooler, drinks into another cooler, perishable items into another bin and finally, all your other cooking utensils and camping kitchen equipment into another. If you’re using fuel and mess tins, be sure not to mix them up with your eating utensils as the fuel is poisonous and could cause you to fall sick.

Get your perishable food items all ready before even leaving the house! Pack ingredients into labeled bags for easy finding and even consider freezing your meat beforehand! This way, the meat will stay fresher and usable for a longer time. It will even keep the other perishable food items in the cooler, cool. Have all your drinks in another cooler so that the perishable food cooler isn’t opened often and hence, the food inside will be left fresh for your cooking time!

Such a sorting system can help save time and energy as items will all be where you expect them to be! There’s no need for digging around in coolers to look for one item.

Waste Not, Want Not: Leftovers as Camping Meals

Cooking at a campsite is not an easy task. There are so many things to prepare! And after a long day running around, your stomach is growling and the last thing you want is a long cook time. So, why not prevent food wastage and simply bring out your leftovers from your dinners?

All you have to do is freeze any of your leftover meals in little plastic bags! Yesterday’s pasta? Freeze it! Then when it’s chow time at camp, simply bring that out and warm it up!

With these frozen meals, you can even use them as ice packs to keep your drinks cool! An alternative idea is to freeze a few of your drinks beforehand. By the time the other drinks are empty, those frozen ones would have defrosted and been ready for drinking!

cooking while camping tips and tricks sundown sunset open fire
Credit: Myles Tan

Get It All Ready At Home

If a good old home-cooked meal is what you’re looking to prepare for your fellow campers, then that’s alright too! But there’s no need to make it harder on yourself than necessary. Camping grounds can be hard to cook because there aren’t proper spaces or equipment available. You wouldn’t want to be lugging all kinds of knives and boards and utensils to the grounds either. So, get your ingredients ready at home!

Marinate your meats at home, or even leave them marinating in their coolers! By the time you’re ready to cook, those meats would have been well marinated. Chop up your cuts and vegetables at home so that all you have to do when you’re ready is assemble them.

You can cook your rice, sauces, and soups at home too! Then pack them up in bags or containers and simply warm them up before serving.

Camping is all about relaxing and having fun. There’s no need to stress yourself out with cooking at the grounds. Get them all ready and prepared at home so that cooking whilst camping can also be another fun and relaxing activity.

And if worse comes to worst, a frisbee serves as a wonderful replacement for a cutting board. Just make sure to wipe it down with some antibacterial wipes!

Get That Fire Burning

Nothing says camping like having a fire going. If your campsite allows for fires, make sure you’re prepared to set one up. The smoky flavor of food from cooking over a fire cannot be beaten or missed during a camping experience!

Make sure to check if fires are allowed at your campsite beforehand. If they’re allowed, make an effort to pick up all the necessary tools before arriving. You’ll need some tinder, kindling, firewood, rocks, firestarters and some shovels or tongs.

Tinder can be easily replaced with paper in a cinch and kindling, such as small, dry pieces of branches that can be easily found around your campsite! Rocks are also definitely something to find around your campsite.

Firewood and firestarters are what you should definitely prepare beforehand. If you’ve forgotten, however, you can always check with the campground operators as they may sell or have some to spare.

cooking skillet dan edwards fire camping
Credit: Dan Edwards

Prepare Your Fire Beforehand

Always make sure to prepare your fire beforehand. Don’t wait till it gets too dark and then visibility is an issue. This can make the fire making process a lot harder. Instead, try to scope out a fire pit early on.

If you have to make one of your own, then your best bet would be to find a nice flat and dry area to use. Make sure there’s no vegetation as well. Alternatively, you can always use a big rock slab or the beach. But, remember to find a spot below the high tide line!

Once your spot is found, lay some rocks down to create a ring. If you want, you can even place a much larger and flatter piece of rock down at the back of the ring. This can serve as your chimney and it will help direct the smoke up and away.

Now’s when you begin to really build your fire! First, you put your tinder down. Make sure that they make up a few layers and that they overlap with one another. Then on top of that, you put your kindling down. Now, light your tinder up. As it begins to burn, your kindling should also begin to burn along.

Once they are burning together in a small fire, you can start laying down pieces of your dry firewood. Always make sure that the firewood is dry as it will not burn well otherwise.

Make sure the firewood you use is all about the same size and that you lay them down evenly across your burning kindling. Let the firewood catch fire and then give it a few minutes to die down. What you want is for your firewood to be burning as white-hot coals. At this point, your fire is ready for use!

Extra Fire Burning Tips

As an extra tip, you can even build your new coals differently to have a range of heating settings. By placing coals higher in the back, you’d have a high heat setting. Lesser coal equals less heat and you can adjust them accordingly. If you’d like to just have even heat for cooking, then make sure all your coals are laid out evenly.

You Can Never Go Wrong with Foil

Tinfoil is your best friend. There’s no other equipment that is easier to use when cooking at camp. With foil, the need for pans or pots is eliminated. All you have to do is simply wrap up whatever meat, vegetables, eggs or food you’re planning to cook in foil, drizzle a little oil and then place it directly on the burning coals for it to cook.

Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and it’ll all be ready! Once done, you simply use tongs to lift it off the coals. Remember to let it cool for a minute before unwrapping but otherwise, order’s up!

We hope that these 5 tips and tricks will serve you well when it comes to camp cooking. Hopefully, they will be your ticket to hassle-free cooking!

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