10 Tips For Cooking Meals While Camping

Are you looking for 10 tips for cooking meals while camping? Camping trips can be wonderful, low cost family vacations and can create memorable experiences in nature. Cooking on a camping trip without the comforts of home can sometimes be less than wonderful without some useful tips and ideas for creating meals while camping.

  1. Aluminum foil is a must for cooking on a camping trip. Home grilling chefs often use handy aluminum foil packets to create quick and easy side dishes—but, aluminum foil can be used on the camping trip for everything from that basic preparation to keeping cooked foods warm while preparing other dishes or waiting for meal guests to wake or return from a nature hike. Aluminum foil also makes for easy campsite dinner cleanup!
  2. Choose versatile ingredients for camping meals. Just how many ways can you prepare potatoes at camp? You may be surprised. Ingredients like peppers and onions can complement a variety of dishes from Italian to Mexican to Chinese—or as American burger toppings. If you are able to use ingredients in multiple meals, it saves you prep time and often storage space.
  3. Plan a camping menu and consider the unexpected. Plan something for every meal of your trip—plus two to three extra meals. Be sure that you have all of the ingredients for all of the planned dishes—and a couple of back up items should the chicken you planned to eat gets accidentally left in a warm cooler overnight. Having a few extra camp dinner ideas will prevent you from running out of food before your camping trip is scheduled to end.
  4. Do most of the meal prep work before the camping trip. Will meat need to be chopped or diced? Are you planning to cut and chop vegetables to serve raw or peppers and onions to add to omelets or soups? Try to do as much of your cutting and chopping as you can before you head to the campground—and store your precut foods in plastic bags. It will be much easier and more sanitary to chop chicken or beef on your kitchen counter than on a makeshift tree-stump counter in the forest.
  5. Consider using pre-cooked and convenience meals at camp. Many campers opt to dehydrate their own soups or stews for easy, just-add-water preparation—or prepare much of the camp meal in advance. Others choose to buy pre-packaged, commercial camp dinners or even convenience meals from the grocer’s frozen or boxed meal section. Either way means less prep time, less cook time, and less clean up!
  6. Begin your camping trip with many of your meal ingredients frozen. Freezing items such as meats and even prepared soups and stews help cut down on the need for extra ice—and helps you make sure that your ingredients stay healthy and safe to eat as long as possible.
  7. Don’t forget to pack the basic kitchen tools to cook while camping. At home, you have ready access to long handled tongs and thick oven mitts—but, if you forget those on a camping trip, you may be in for a difficult meal preparation! Review your list of meals and determine which, if any, extra utensils you may need to make that meal easier to prepare.
  8. Don’t forget the plastic wrap.  Just like at a picnic, if a dish isn’t wrapped, it’s fair game for insects and uninvited dinner guests. 
  9. Keep everything clean and sanitary while preparing camping meals. Wash your hands frequently, even with hand sanitizer, and avoid cross contamination of foods whenever possible. Again, having much of the prep work finished in advance helps eliminate the needs for shared cutting boards or utensils.
  10. Cook at the campsite with clean up in mind. Boiling water for dish and utensil clean up is not the most fun aspect of a camping trip. Plan camping outing meals to allow for limited clean up. Can you cut, chop and pre-cook at home to eliminate the need to wash many utensils? Consider a variety of one pot meals to limit the cleaning of large pots and pans. Use aluminum foil to line pots and pans instead of soaking and scrubbing.