Tips on setting up your camp kitchen, selecting your cooking gear and utensils, and making life easier for the camp chef. Cooking can be as simple as you want, like hot dogs on a stick, or it can be a truly gormet experience with fresh goodies baked over an open fire. Some campers get really into the cooking in the wild theme. Others just want to eat simply, so the can get out and do other things like sightseeing, fishing, or hiking. Everyone has their own style. Some of these tips might fit into your plans...
Always bring extra matches.
Plan a simple and filling menu.
Write down the menu for all meals for your trip. This helps you pack all the ingredients you will need without forgetting a key ingredient.
Measure and combine dry ingredients in Ziploc bags prior to packing. Make sure you label the bag for the appropriate meal.
Bring a grate to put over the fire. Not every campsite has a grill or one that will suit your cooking needs.
If possible, purchase a separate set of dishes, silverware, dishpan, washrag, towels, and soap, just for your camping trips. Store them in a plastic container that can be pulled out and ready to go for each trip.
Purchase a quality camp stove. Propane stoves are easiest to use, while white gas stoves produce more heat.
Meals that can be cooked at home ahead of time, and travel well in a cooler, will save a lot of time especially on the first night of your trip. Precooked meats will last longer in the cooler than raw meats.
Save your plastic film containers. They are great to keep moisture out of your matches. Special caps can be purchased which turn the containers into compact salt and pepper shakers.
Bring small amounts of cooking supplies instead of large quantities. 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. It lasts longer than cubes.
Make your cookout a family activity. Bring along food that the whole family can participate in cooking like hotdogs on a sharpened stick or even potatoes that the kids can help peel. And don't forget the marshmallows and "s'mores."
Use Aluminum Foil for making packet meals. Just wrap up some sliced potatoes, onions, carrots, zuchinni, salt & pepper, and a little butter, seal the ends well, and lay it on the grill to roast.
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.
Swiss Army type pocketknives are not good substitutes for a real corkscrew. Bring the real thing if you plan to have wine.
Get a very small plastic cutting board. One just big enough to give you some clean food preparation surface. Picnic tables are notoriously dirty, and they won't last long if everyone uses them for a cutting board.
Take dish-soap in a very small bottle, and fill it with just enough for your trip.
Take your own small portable charcoal grill just in case the one at the campground isn't usable.
Igloo and Coleman make really good ice chests. Make sure the clasp is secure, or use a strap to hold it shut and prevent animals from getting inside.
Meat frozen at home before packing will last longer.
You'll need sharp knives for preparing food, and possibly for cutting those steaks you grill. Folding pocketknives should be the "locking" type, which prevent accidental folding of the blade.
Get the "strike anywhere" wooden matches, not the "strike on box" safety kind. Put them in a waterproof container, like an old film canister.
Plastic measuring cups are fine, but a metal one won't melt if inadvertently left near the fire.
Have a couple potholders and an oven mitt to handle the cooking, and to help around the campfire.
Marshmallow forks can get kind of hot over the campfire, so keep that oven mitt handy.
If you're in an area inhabited by bears, be sure to hang your trash bag high off the ground and a good distance from your tent at night. Better still, if you're in an established campground, place your bag in the special bear-proof receptacles at night.