No matter how long you have been venturing into the woods, there are always some new tips you can find that help you to feed yourself and your crew better along the way. Here are some pointers on setting up your Camp Kitchen, selecting your cooking gear and utensils, and making life easier for you, the camp chef. Cooking can be a simple process, hot water for instant oatmeal or hot dogs on a stick; or you can push the field gourmet envelope with fresh goodies baked over an open fire, or a handmade oven stack. Whether you fancy yourself the “Emeril” of the forest or just a short order camp cook, hopefully these tips will help you.
-Always bring extra matches; Preferably waterproof. Some might prefer the non-safety type so they can strike anywhere.
-Plan a simple and filling menu. Less ingredients and ample supply designed to fuel your crew is preferred.
-Write down a menu checklist for your own trip … you do not want to leave that important spice ingredient behind!
-Measure, combine and label each meal’s dry ingredients (by cooking step of course) in heavy-duty Ziploc bags prior to packing. This speeds up your cook time.
-Bring a grate to put over the fire. Not every campsite will have a grill or one that suits your cooking needs.
-Purchase a dish set, silverware, dishpan, washrag, towels, and soap just for your camping trips and keep them in a plastic container. Pre-packing is always a help.
-Purchase a quality camp stove, with at least two burners (for campground or group cooking). Propane stoves are easiest to use (but you have to discard on site or carry out the cylinders), while white gas stoves produce more heat (but you need to carry the liquid fuel with you).
-Pre-cooked meals that travel well in a cooler will save a lot of time, especially on the first night of your trip. Meats, especially, will last longer in the cooler than raw.
-Pack small amounts of cooking supplies. It will save quite a bit of packing space.
-Carry instant or dried soups to serve with meals on cold or rainy days.
– Use block ice in your cooler since it will last longer than cubes.
-Make your cookout a family or group activity. Bring along food that everyone can participate in cooking: like hotdogs on a sharpened stick or even potatoes that the kids can help peel. Do not forget the marshmallows and “s’mores.”
-Use aluminum foil and make pack meals. Wrap sliced potatoes, onions, carrots, zucchini, salt & pepper, and some butter, seal the ends well, and lay it on the grill to roast. Simple veggies done to perfection!
-Bring a hand crank can opener.
-Buy a sponge that has a scrubber on one side, to make washing pots and dishes easier.
-A Coffee Percolator with the glass bulb on top works great on the stove or fire. Fresh brewed coffee and camping are old companions. Make sure the size of the pot matches the number of coffee drinkers … more is always better !!
-A pocketknife corkscrew is not a good substitute for a real one. Bring the real thing if you plan to have wine!
-Get a very small plastic cutting board. Picnic tables are notoriously dirty, and they will not last long if everyone uses them for a cutting board.
-Put your dish-soap in a very small bottle with just enough for your trip.
-Make sure your cooler clasp is secure, or use a strap to hold it shut and prevent animals from getting inside.
-Freeze your meat before packing and it will last longer.
Get a set of camp specific cooking knives in a case for easy carrying.
-Plastic measuring cups are fine, but metal will not melt if inadvertently left near the fire.
-Make sure you have a few potholders and an oven mitt to handle the cookware around the campfire.