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Whether you do it to connect with nature or you just want to bond with your loved ones, a camping trip can be one of the most exciting events of your year. One essential part of that event is the food.
Depending on what you choose to bring, camping food can be the highlight of your night or a bit of a bummer. With that in mind, here’s a complete checklist for your campsite cooking needs.
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Before you decide what food to bring, you should look around at the devices you have available. The best cooking tools to bring camping should be relatively small and easy to carry, but that might look different based on where you plan to cook for the night.
Electric Powered Cooking
Technically, any portable device in your home can be part of your camping kitchen, so long as it has an adequate power source. Bringing a small solar powered generator means you can take your favorite devices on the go.
So, if you want that fresh-brewed morning coffee, don’t skip it — bring a good generator along. Other common electric devices for cooking include:
- Hot plates
- Instant pot
- Bullet blender
- Coffee maker
- Rice cooker
- Mini fridge
Fire Powered Cooking
For a more classic camping experience, you can cook any number of your favorite dishes over a campfire. However, if you choose to do so, there are several tools you should bring for convenience.
- Fuel (wood, prepared kindling, dry leaves)
- Matches or lighter
- Grill rack
- Cast iron pans, skills, griddles, or pots
As a safety warning, remember only to create campfires within a designated fire ring.
For safe meal preparation, you'll want to have several tools at your campsite. A more basic meal will only include what’s needed for placing and removing food on the cooking device, while more advanced wilderness chefs need far more supplies.
Cooking a meal of just the essentials might include using canned items, bread, prepackaged meat, and anything you’d roast to cook.
For a basic meal, you need:
- Utensils (i.e., forks, spoons, etc.)
- Trash bags
- Water container
- Bottle opener
- Can opener
- Sharp knife
- Roasting stick/skewers
A more advanced meal may require more preparation and time spent cooking. If you plan to catch and eat fish on your trip, make a stew from scratch, or cook rice, you’ll need a few more advanced cooking tools.
- Measuring cups
- Aluminum foil
- Mixing bowls
- Cutting board
- Baking sheets
Once you have a menu in mind, it will be easier to determine precisely what you'll need.
Now that you have all your tools, it’s time to decide on your menu. A good spread of items will be easy to pack, transportable, and simplistic. Some of the easiest camping food items don’t need to be cooked, while others need more intensive preparation.
With that in mind, here’s a list of food options depending on how much you want to cook.
These are easy items to have on the go. They’ll work great for snacks while hiking, and any days you spend away from your main campsite.
- PB&J (and its alternatives)
These items require some preparation, but nothing that’s too time-intensive or requires much special gear.
- Hot dogs
- Grilled cheese
- Canned soup
Many of these foods are camping-trip classics. Be sure to get all the materials you need to make this before planning on eating these.
These items are delicious but will require more time and tools for preparation.
- Spices and condiments (salt, pepper, honey, ketchup, etc.)
- Curry with chopped vegetables
- Sloppy Joes
- Meat thermometer for food safety
Cooking is one of the best parts of any camping trip3, provided that you have the right materials for what you want to make. Try bringing these items and more on your next trip and see what your new favorite camping meal is.