Camping is a great way to escape the normal urban life and bond with both friends and nature. What is a camp without a good campfire and some good food, though? Exactly. We made this article in order to help you with your cooking skills by giving you some of the best camping cooking tips out there. They will help you with the way you treat your fire to the way you cook different meals on it.
Key takeaway: The lack of cooking gear, limited food, and various weather conditions can make camping cooking tricky but some of our tips will make your life easier. From planning what you’ll eat ahead of time to knowing what cookware to take with you, we’ve covered everything you need to know when heading into the wild.
The most important thing before you get into the actual cooking is the campfire you build. In order to make it strong and hot enough you will need to know what woods to use. Still, keeping your campfire burning isn’t an easy feat and it is definitely something you need to master before trying to cook something different than a corn dog or a marshmallow on a stick. Check out our article on the topic to find out what it takes to keep a fire from constantly gassing out.
Once you’ve covered that, it’s time to head over to the fun part of camping – cooking & eating. We have prepared 15 tips for you which will make your life easier and the trip a lot more memorable and fun.
The 5 Camping Cooking Tips You Will Love
Some of our tips aren’t necessarily cooking related but are more logistically oriented, as most people know how to cook well even out when camping but often tend to forget what to take with them.
1. Planning Everything Ahead Of Time
It goes without saying that the camper who plans ahead is a happy camper. If you know for certain how many people you will have to cook for, it won’t be that hard to measure the portions and figure out how much ingredients and food you have to take with you. We suggest using space bags for everything as it makes it easier to pack and store. It also acts as a separator between dry and wet ingredients.
If you plan on taking meat on the trip, make sure you freeze it first. This will make it last longer and if you have a cooler you will be able to store it for at least a day. Taking fresh meat for the first night cooking and using the frozen meat for the second day is what most campers usually do when out for the weekend, for example. Keeping a chunk of frozen meat also keeps the temperature down in the cooler (as well as anything else which is frozen such as fruits, vegetables, and even ice).
2. Aluminum Foil Is Your Best Friend
Always take aluminum foil with you. Not only it can keep your food either warm or cold, but it also does wonders for some recipes such as fish dishes. It allows the food to be cooked over an open fire or on top of the burning coals. Another great item made from aluminum are aluminum bags which are ideal to mix food in them and cook it altogether over the fire.
3. Measure, Chop, Pack
These three things will save you a lot of time and hassle once you start cooking in the nature. Our best advice is to chop up your meat and veggies, measure them accordingly if you plan to cook for more people, and pack them up either together or individually for later use. This will save time once you start setting up your camp and people start getting hungry. Also, when you place all your products in either plastic or aluminum bags they will stay fresh and will have little risk of getting wet or dirty.
4. Squeeze Bottles
Stuff such as pancake mix, scrambled eggs, oils, and dressings can be put into squeeze bottles. That way you won’t have to use additional utensils and therefore will have less to clean afterwards. Speaking of cleaning, while you eat you can clean put a hot water pot over your fire to boil up some water. That way, when you are finished there will be a ready supply of warm water to help you clean your dishes.
5. Keep Your Food Out Of Reach
Humans aren’t the only species that love food. Different animals might have a say when it comes to sharing the food when into the wild. Many campers know that unattended food (as well as openly put) will attract unwanted attention from the wildlife. Keep your food in boxes and preferably in a safe place inside a tent. That way you won’t bump into another hungry fellow when camping out with your friends and family.
Some Extra Tips
If you are dealing with gas canisters, make sure you always keep them upright. You also need to be using them only in well-ventilated areas (outside the tents). Before using them check them for leakages. A good way to check for those is by putting water and soap on all junctions and see if bubbles of air appear. Keep it turned off when not in use.
When cooking outdoor, covering your pots will help greatly mainly by decreasing the amount of time a meal will take to cook. That way you will save on fire fuel and there will be less insects and dirt in your food.
Another great tip for people who use pots to cook outside is to soap them up with liquid soap before you put them over the fire. That way they will be much easier to clean after you are done cooking.
If you are using a grill, however, make sure you oil it up well to prevent food from sticking into it.
Other Things To Take Into Account
Apart from the tips you just read, there are other things which don’t fall into the “tip & trick” category but are important to mention. Some of those are:
- Your cooking supplies
- The cooking method you will use
No matter what you want to cook, there are a few supplies that should never be left behind. The most important of them all are match sticks and/or a lighter fluid. You can take a lighter with you but those can break or run out of gas. Good matchsticks work even when wet and are easy to carry even in larger quantities. When it comes to dishes in which to eat or cook your first packed item should be a lightweight medium-sized pot, a pan, and maybe even a grate which you can always place on top of your fire to grill either veggies or meat. Last but not least, don’t forget to pack a spatula or tongs as putting and pulling food out of the campfire with bare hands isn’t nice at all.
The Cooking Methods You’ll Use
There are numerous ways of cooking using your campfire. Some of them are quite basic while others require training, knowledge, and preparation.
The easiest way to cook food over your campfire is to use the direct heat from the fire itself. This can be accomplished via two methods. The first one is simply wrapping your food in aluminum foil and putting it over the hot coals. That way you can cook food that requires higher heat than usual. The second method is by using a grate which is placed a little higher. On the grate, you can place all kinds of vegetables, steaks, and fish. The grate method essentially resembles cooking on your backyard grill. The heat is less direct and it will take longer to cook but it is suitable for a wider range of foods.
If you want to cook soups or stews you will need a pot or a deeper pan. In order to do that, you will need to build up the fire and let it die until only the hot coals remain. Place the pot over them and let it cook. The only hard part here is managing the actual heat and the amount of coals you use. Their thermal capabilities can drop down significantly pretty quick and therefore you have to keep an eye on the pit’s condition.
If you are interested in some great camping cots, check out our Buyer’s Guide on the topic!