Prep in advance
To minimize the amount of cooking tools you need to pack for your trip, prepare food for cooking in advance. Wash and cut all vegetables. Remove items from bulky packaging. Pack items together by meal in plastic storage bags. You can even prepare soups and stews in advance, freeze them, and pack them in the cooler to be reheated for a quick meal. Make a list of everything you’ll need to prepare, season, cook, and serve meals. Check off each item from the list as you pack it to be sure that no items are forgotten.
Cook simple meals
Try to keep meals simple by making one pan meals that only use a few ingredients. You can also cook a lot of great camp food in foil pouches, which reduces necessary cooking supplies and minimizes cleanup.
Pack the bare necessities
By preparing your meals in advance, you can cut down on the amount of cooking tools you need to pack. Keep it simple by only packing the bare necessities. If you plan to car camp and weight isn’t an issue, consider packing a cast iron pan, which is good for cooking many dishes and is easy to clean. Also, consider investing in a set of heat-proof silicone cooking utensils including a large spoon, spatula, and tongs for your camping trips. Ceramic knives are both lightweight and sharp, and often come with plastic sheaths to protect the blade (and everything else from it, when not in use), so stash one of those in your camp kit too.
Here are a few essential tools for cooking during your camping trip:
- Cooler on wheels, we recommend one that is at least 82 qt.
- Matches and lighter
- Aluminum foil
- Propane gas and stove
- Two good knives
- Silverware: spoons, forks, and knives
- Large and small resealable bags
- Paper towels
- Cleaning wipes, small dish soap, sponge, dish towels, and dishwashing bucket
- Ice packs
- Skillet with lid, saucepan with lid, and pot with lid
- Plates and small bowls for each camper
- Cups, mugs, and plastic cups for writing names, for each camper
- Trash bags
- Bug spray
Be smart when packing your cooler
Bring separate coolers for beverages and food. Freeze water bottles to use as ice packs to keep food cold, then allow them to thaw for drinking water later on. You can also freeze meats and precooked rice to help keep food cool. Chill items before packing them in the cooler to help keep them chilled better and longer. Before packing your cooler, store it in a cool place for at least a day. When packing your cooler, try to place the items you need sooner on top, and pack the ingredients you won’t need until later in your trip on the bottom to keep you from having to rummage through the cooler. Keep a thermometer in your cooler to make sure your meat and veggies are staying cool enough. When you arrive at your campsite, place your cooler in a shaded area.
Prepare a backup plan
Pack a tarp or propane stove in case weather doesn’t cooperate or starting a fire proves too difficult. Make sure to bring a few foods that don’t require cooking such as trail mix or beef jerky in case of emergency.