Camp Cooking 101: A Tasty Guide to Camping Cooking (2023)

Enjoy the beauty of nature and enjoy delicious meals thanks to this handy guide to camp cooking

Our editors and experts carefully select every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

The best thing about camping is the opportunity to spend time in nature, free from walls. But you still have to eat. And while cooking at camp comes with some challenges, like not having a stove, oven, and sink, it also comes with many benefits, including the opportunity to get creative and cook dishes that actually taste better outside. As long as you have the right to do socamping equipmentand with one of the best coolers for camping, you can prepare delicious meals that transport you back to nature every time.

We spoke to camp cooking experts to find out everything you need to know to cook smoothly and deliciously while camping - and yes, this even applies to first-time campers. Read on for all the details.

Takefrom the readerDigestvonRead the newsletterMore camping tips, humor, cleaning, travel, technology and fun facts for the whole week.

camping kitchen equipment

How much cooking equipment you take with you to camp depends largely on how you get to camp - if you drive there you can take a lot more with you than if you walk or hike.

“For me, the really essential gear would be a stove, pot, water filter and knife,” says Ryan Cunningham, founder of Beyond the Tent campsite. “When I go canoeing or backpacking, those are my really essential pieces of gear. I can do almost anything with them. In fact, with these four tools, you can prepare and cook almost anything and always have clean water for drinking and cooking.

If you take oneTravelfor a campsite or parking lot in onetrailer park, your kitchen appliance options are starting to expand. “For camping adventures where I can carry more gear, I like to bring more plates, cutlery, pans and even a small grill if possible,” says Cunningham. “Dutch ovens are incredibly versatile and can be used for almost anything when camping. But they are heavy. Cast iron is also great for fire cooking.” This expands the range of foods you can cook and makes the dining experience that little bit more enjoyable.

Other gear you may want to bring: a cutting board, spatula, tongs, can and bottle opener, coffee maker (e.g. strainer or french press) and sink, soap, sponge and quick drying towels to wash the dishes.

How to pack your food

It doesn't matter if you have the best tent, sleeping bag, camp bed and camp chair - if you don't pack your cooler wisely, you're in for an awkward camping trip. The first step to packing properly is preparing your food.

"To save space, prepare as much of your camping food as possible at home," says Megan McDuffie, co-founder of Fresh Off the Grid, a website dedicated to camping and backpacking cooking. “Pre-cut your veggies and prepare marinades ahead of time. Separate the spices into smaller containers if you don't need the whole bottle. The less space food takes up in the fridge, the more room there is for ice cream.”

From there, make sure all your groceries are in airtight and watertight packaging. "For long trips, you should freeze as much food as possible," adds McDuffie. "Anything that isn't frozen needs to be chilled before packaging."

When it comes to ice, McDuffie recommends aiming for a 2:1 ratio of ice to food in your fridge. And if you can use large blocks of ice or bottles of frozen water, do so. These stay frozen longer than ice cubes.

However, keep in mind that a fully stocked refrigerator will likely feel heavy. For car camping this is not a big problem as you can either leave the cooler in the back of the truck or move it off the car onto the ground. But if you're walking to camp, carrying a heavy cooler doesn't get any easier with even the best women's or men's sandals, socks or hiking boots.

"The final consideration when packing your groceries is whether or not you're in bear territory," says Cunningham. "If bears are a real threat, I probably won't pack anything that needs to stay cold," he says. "Instead, I pack all of my food in a bear-proof container or bag [like the Ursack]."

How to assemble a kitchen

Camp Cooking 101: A Tasty Guide to Camping Cooking (4)enigma_images/Getty Images

Where you set up your camping kitchen depends on where you are camping. Are you staying on a camping trip or heading out into the woods? Or do you get better with oneLuxuscampAdventure,camping yurtorGlamping?

"If you're in a built-up campground that has a picnic table, we think it makes the most sense to place the kitchen near (or use) the table," says McDuffie. This way you can use it as a space for preparing food. If your camp has electricity and/or a water source, you may want to stay close to those as well; This will avoid carrying dishes back and forth on your camping trip.

"If camping is easier, consider setting up your kitchen on a flat, compact surface," suggests McDuffie. "And avoid putting it on the lawn so you don't damage the vegetation."

Regardless of the type of camping, Cunningham recommends always placing your kitchen a safe distance away from where you sleep. "It's inevitable that food scraps or strong food odors will be left in the kitchen area, and you don't want animals of any kind visiting your tent at night," he says. Positioning the kitchen downwind of your tent also helps.

If you are ready to close the kitchen at the end of the night, first make sure there is no food in your tent. "Rodents that frequent campgrounds are notoriously stubborn and are known to eat through soft storage like tents," says McDuffie. Then, thoroughly rinse and put away all your dishes and kitchen utensils. Finally put away your food.

"Ideally, all food should be stored in rigid, shatterproof containers such as a refrigerator, a sturdy plastic box, or in your vehicle," says McDuffie. Cunningham recommends getting a cooler that latches or straps to secure the cooler. And if you're in bear territory, make sure you have a bear-proof container or bag with you. (By the way, here's what to do if you see a bear.)

Types of camp cooking

There are different ways to cook while camping, depending on the gear you bring and the space and resources at camp.

  • Cooking with a camping stove:Camping stoves use propane and work the same way as your home stove, meaning you can do the same things. They are easy to carry and you don't have to make a fire to eat them.
  • Cooking over the fire:Some people might think that cooking over an open fire is a prerequisite for a full camping experience - and once the fire is burning, you can count on something.campfire storiesand sing campfire songs when you're done eating. But to roast more than just marshmallows, you need additional fire cooking equipment. McDuffie recommends bringing a portable grill, heat-resistant gloves, and a cast-iron skillet and/or dutch oven.
  • Cooking with a portable grill:Your third camping option is to use a portable grill. Available in both propane and charcoal powered models, they ensure you can enjoy the taste of fire cooking without the uncertainty of open fire cooking.

how to clean

Camp Cooking 101: A Tasty Guide to Camping Cooking (5)sshepard/Getty Images

So you can quickly and easily start cleaning before you leave the house.

"By repacking your groceries before you travel, you don't have to bag the excess trash," says McDuffie. “Take drinks, for example. You don't need to bring the box that came with the cans. Pack the cans in the refrigerator and dispose of the carton in the household waste or the dustbin. Preparing the ingredients before packaging also contributes to the reductionwastage of foodin stock.

Thinking ahead of time that you need to take out all the trash you bring with you will likely help you pack smarter, notes Cunningham. "No one wants a backpack full of junk, so obviously you're going to be more efficient with it," he says.

When you're almost done setting up your campsite, Cunningham adds, ask everyone in your group to demonstrate how to pick up lost litter and return anything you've moved, like sticks or rocks, to where it was before You. arrived. This is one of the main principles of the "leave no trace" philosophy in dealing with nature.

What to eat while camping

Once you have all your gadgets and tools in place, your options are at your fingertipscamping mealsare almost endless. We've rounded up some of our favorites below.

For breakfast:

  • pancakes
  • roast meat
  • Cornbread in the pan
  • yogurt and muesli

For lunch:

  • Nachos by the campfire
  • Chicken Kebab
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • grilled cheese

For dinner:

  • Pfeffer
  • Hamburgers or cheeseburgers
  • Pasta with cheese
  • Foil wrapped fish or shrimp and vegetables

More camping cooking tips

Camp Cooking 101: A Tasty Guide to Camping Cooking (6)setdalee/Getty Images

  • Don't forget the hot drinks.Pack coffee, tea or hot chocolate in your cooler along with any refreshing beverages. "They can make a cold night or morning a lot more comfortable," says Cunningham.
  • Warm up again the first night."It's great to cook or prepare the first dinner at home and then reheat it at camp," says McDuffie. "When you arrive, there are so many tasks to do - set up the kitchen, tent, etc." - and it can really reduce the stress of having dinner already done. This will get you into relaxation mode much faster!”
  • Always start early."Start cooking a little earlier than you think," says McDuffie. "If everything goes according to plan, just have dinner a little earlier, but if something happens along the way, at least you don't have to eat and clean in the dark."

Now that you have your camp set up, it's time to watch some fun family camping movies for inspiration before setting off on your own.


paulprescott72/Getty ImagesHow to Camp for Free in America
RD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3) Find cheap camping gear
Milo Zanecchia/ Ascent Xmedia/Getty Images The best national campsite

popular videos

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated: 05/01/2023

Views: 5390

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.