Regardless of what you specifically plan to cook on your next camping trip, there are a few food preparation staples that you shouldn’t forget. First and foremost is a box of matches and some lighter fluid. Most prefer to do their campsite cooking over an open fire, so you’d be out of luck without a way to start one. As for dishes, the true necessities are a medium to large lightweight pot, a pan of similar size, aluminum foil, and a portable grate that can be placed over a fire pit. This combination of cooking equipment can be used to prepare just about anything from bacon and eggs to beans and pasta. Lastly, don’t forget your spatula and tongs – pulling food off a fire bare-handed is far from pleasant.
Over the centuries, outdoor adventurers have come up with a number of ways to cook meals using a campfire. Of course, some are more complicated than others. Most camping trips, for instance, probably won’t require you to make a spit for roasting (unless you’re feeling a little overzealous). Read on as we detail a few of the simplest, most effective camp cooking techniques.
The most basic form of campfire cooking is to use direct heat. There are essentially two ways to accomplish this. The first, an old boy scouts’ trick, is to wrap food items individually in aluminum foil and place them in hot coals. It requires frequent checking, but is very effective for foods that require high heat. The second, method is simply to place a grate over an open fire and grill your food like you would in the backyard. The heat from this source is less direct, so it will likely take a little longer to cook.
For soups, stews, and pastas, you’ll need the aforementioned pots and pans in the supplies list. To cook them, just build the fire, let it die down to hot coals, and place the pot or pan over them. Managing the hot coal amount and concentration is the key to this technique, as heat can become inconsistent pretty quickly. The good news is that once you have that down, camp cooking is just about as easy as using a kitchen stove.
A few other things to consider:
- Measure ingredients for each meal ahead of time and pack in ziplock bags. Label each bag accordingly.
- Prepare soups, stews or chili etc ahead of time. Freeze and keep in cooler. Reheat for a quick meal.
- Don’t forget the heavy duty aluminum foil. There are many uses for it at camp.
- Be very careful with gas canisters. Keep upright at all times. Keep outside in well ventilated area. Check for leakage by putting soap liquid on all connections. Turn off when not in use.
- Freeze meat before putting in cooler. Keeps other foods cold and will keep longer.
- Cover pots whenever cooking outdoor. Food will get done quicker and you will save on fuel. Also helps keep dirt and insects out of your food.
- For ease of clean up and to protect from smoke and fire damage, put liquid soap on outside of your pots and pans before putting over the fire.
- Block ice will last longer than cubed ice.
- All items in your cooler should be packed in watertight bags or containers.
- To avoid unwanted visits from animals, keep food stored away or hang above ground level.
- Apply oil on camp grill to keep foods from sticking.
- Cans of frozen juice keep other foods cold.
- Use convenience or instant foods for quick meals.
- Use fireproof cooking equipment. Keep handles away from extreme heat and flames.
- To keep matches dry – dip stick matches in wax and when needed, scrape off the tip of the match and light. Also keep matches in a waterproof container.
- Use ziplock bags to store foods like soup, sauces, chili etc. Freeze the bag and put in cooler. It helps keep other foods cold.
- To fix a cooler leak, apply melted paraffin wax inside and outside the leaky area.
- Put a pan of hot water on the fire while you eat so that it’ll be ready for cleanup when you are done.
- To keep soap clean at your campsite, put it in a sock and hang from a tree.
- Pita bread packs better and stays in better shape while camping than regular type breads.
- Bring energy boosting snacks such as GORP trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, beef jerky etc. for in between meals.
- To cook hamburgers more evenly throughout, put a hole in the middle of your hamburger about the size of your finger, during grilling the hole will disappear but the center will be cooked the same as the edges.
We hope this helps! Happy cooking in the outdoors!!