Camping — the great outdoors — one of the things many people enjoy is the fire-cooked food that is popular on trips. Someone, however, is usually responsible for planning, cooking, and cleaning up after these feasts.
How do you ensure that your meals are delicious without spending all of your time on “kitchen duty”?
These seven steps can help make cooking while camping an absolute joy —o r at least less of a hassle. Check out the following tips and share with your favorite chef.
1. Plan Ahead
Know ahead of time what meals you are planning to make while camping. Try to plan meals that use the same ingredients. That way, you have fewer elements that you will need to pack. It also saves cooking and cleaning time.
For example, if you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, cook extra bacon for sandwiches at lunch or dinnertime. If you bring chili, have a second meal of chilidogs. This also ensures that all leftovers are eaten and reduces the amount of ice you need for refrigeration.
2. Be Flexible
Look into your options. You don’t want to be relegated to cooking on a stick over the campfire. You also don’t want to only have the slightly less restrictive option of boiling water.
Bringing a skillet and a pan, or a Dutch oven and a small camp stove, opens up your alternatives exponentially. You could grill, fry, and bake; pretty much anything you could do at home would be available to you.
3. Plan to Prep
You greatly increase your cooking flexibility by preparing some of the food or elements of dishes at home. For example, you can chop vegetables, or assemble veggie and meat packs to make “silver dollars” on the campfire.
You can bake cookies or even make chili and refrigerate it. When you are ready to serve it, just heat it up for a ready-made meal. This ensures that you have at least one meal that is no fuss.
4. Assemble Your Tools
Rather than scavenging your good kitchen knives and spatulas, have a set designated specifically for camping, barbecues, and picnics. These are usually hardier than your nice sets, or at least less expensive.
A ready-made chef set is one way to go. You can also gather utensils that you know you are likely to use. Have a couple of knives, a spatula, a wooden spoon, a couple of serving spoons, etc. This way, they are already assembled and you aren’t going to discover that you are missing something because you forgot to pack it. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
5. Consider a “Chuck Box”
Camping cooks of old kept their utensils and other cooking necessities organized in a chuck wagon. Keep your utensils organized in a chuck box, which is like a toolbox for your campsite cooking tools.
This can be as rustic or sophisticated as you want. A wooden crate where you store your outdoor cooking needs would be sufficient. Camp Chef and other camping gear manufacturers offer models that have individual compartments for the different implements. Along with utensils, can openers, seasonings, paper towels, and wipes are a few of the things that may be included.
6. Plan Easy Deserts
Almost everyone enjoys treats around the campfire. Although S’mores are the easy, “go-to” outdoor deserts, they aren’t the only options.
With a skewer, you can roast strawberries or bananas, as well as marshmallows, and then dip them in melted chocolate. Bring a tube of ready-made cinnamon rolls, separate them and wrap them around a skewer. This enables you to have fresh hot cinnamon rolls for desert or even for breakfast.
7. Be a Quick Clean Master
Being able to tidy up quickly after cooking allows you to spend more time having fun. Nobody wants to spend an hour scraping plates and washing pans after an outdoor meal. Sometimes, the dread of dish duty is enough to halt a chef in his or her tracks. When the clean up is easy, however, you are more likely to want to cook.
One way to minimize the mess is to use paper plates over your camping tableware. This keeps the plates clean by providing a disposable barrier while still having the stability that a real plate grants.
Another thing is to use liners for the pots, pans, and Dutch ovens. When the food has been eaten, just remove the liner and throw it away. If the pot needs any cleaning at all, it will be minimal.
So, with proper planning and a good set of tools, you can easily become a campsite cooking-master. When done properly, these tips should make your outdoor adventure more enjoyable and less stressful. Please share with any friends or family members who enjoy camping and want to take their meals to the next level. You’ll have the whole group exclaiming, “Can I have S’more?”