When camping outdoors, a satisfying meal can make all the difference between an enjoyable experience and a miserable one. After a long day of hiking, fishing, or other activities, you want to refuel with something tasty and nourishing.
Good food is also important for maintaining energy levels to enjoy your time outside fully. Preparing your meals allows you to control the ingredients and flavors. You can eat like royalty with some planning and creativity, even when camping off the grid. Let’s read on and find out some of the best ideas to cook for yourselves while camping, making your experience worthwhile.
The first step for great camp cooking is planning your menu ahead of time. Consider each meal you want to prepare and make a checklist of needed ingredients. Focus on recipes that use non-perishable or durable foods, supplemented by fresh items you can pick up right before your trip. Think about dietary needs and cooking times when choosing recipes as well. Once you’ve planned your menus, prep as much as possible beforehand—chop and portion vegetables. Measure out spices, grains, and Beans. Marinate proteins. Do all the washing, chopping, and combining you can at home so cooking at the campsite is faster and easier. List any equipment and utensils you will need for each planned meal. Pots, pans, cooking tools, grilling grates, knives, cutting boards, plates, cups, and other necessities should all be gathered beforehand. Remember the basics like a stove, fuel, utensils, trash bags, paper towels, etc.
If building a campfire, follow all safety precautions. Choose an existing ring in an established campsite when possible. Clear flammable debris from around the fire. Stack wood properly for airflow. Keep fire size under control. Always fully extinguish fire embers when done. The most basic campfire cooking uses sticks for roasting hot dogs, cooking kebabs, or grilling food packets. Flame grilling right over the fireworks for quick items like steaks. Use campfire tripods, grates, or cooking hangs to boil in pots or bake in covered Dutch ovens. Great meals over a campfire include foil pack dinners, stews, chili, burgers, fish, kabobs, eggs, and potatoes. Try grilled fruit, baked apples, or pineapple upside-down cake for dessert. Be creative with making one-pot meals, sandwiches, and simple ingredients into gourmet campfire cuisine.
Many types of portable camping stoves are great for cooking outdoors. Canister stoves use propane/butane fuel canisters to heat burners. Lightweight and easy to operate. Liquid fuel stoves burn white gas, kerosene, or diesel: hotter burning but more maintenance. Alternative fuel stoves use wood pellets, isobutane, or alcohol—limitations but inexpensive. Electric stoves plug into car outlets. Convenient for RV or car camping. Solid fuel stoves burn wood, charcoal, or hexamine fuel tablets—simple and low cost.
- Portable stoves offer benefits including:
- Produce concentrated heat for faster cooking
- More control over the temperature than a campfire
- Work in any weather conditions
- Light and compact designs for packing
- Many fuel options for versatility
Grilling imparts delicious flavors that are impossible to replicate otherwise. Get yourself an outdoor countertop griddle that allows grilling conveniently and gives your food the ideal taste.
Great camping meals to grill up include steak fajitas, barbecue chicken, salmon with lemon and dill, grilled vegetable skewers, Cuban sandwiches, pizza, pork tenderloin, and shrimp. Even grilled fruit like pineapples, peaches, mangos, and bananas taste amazing after time over the flames.
Dutch Oven Cooking
Use a Dutch oven just like your kitchen oven. Bake, braise, roast, simmer, steam, or fry up amazing meals. With hot briquettes below and on the lid, you can easily reach 300-400°F. They are perfect for stews, chili, lasagna, casseroles, cobblers, roast chicken, and more. Some of the best Dutch oven camping meals include beef stew, chicken pot pie, baked ziti, peach cobbler, shepherd’s pie, enchiladas, baked French toast, pizza, and banana bread. Don’t be afraid to adapt your favorite oven-baked recipes to the outdoors.
Cooking while camping does present some unique challenges. First, you need more equipment and ingredients. Large kitchen appliances and a fully-stocked pantry are not options when carrying everything on your back. Space is also tight when cooking at a campsite. Additionally, perishable foods are only possible to keep fresh with refrigeration.
Finally, weather conditions like rain or wind can disrupt outdoor cooking plans. With the right strategies, however, these obstacles can be easily removed. Get your camps ready and get going on an amazing camping trip.