Outdoor Cooking Requires a Few Special Skills and Special Preparation
Cooking in the outdoors can be a wonderful experience, or it can be downright frustrating and stressful. After years of tent and RV camping, here is what I suggest to make your camping kitchen and your camping trip enjoyable and stress-free.
Pack Everything For Your Camping Kitchen In a Plastic Box
If you are tent camping or don’t have room in your RV, pack your camping kitchen in a heavy-duty plastic box with a lid. Some plastic bins tend to crack. Find a box with a lid made of thick plastic like the ones sold at Costco. Keep this box packed at all times if you camp a few times a year. This eliminates the time it takes to transfer your home kitchen to the camping kitchen box while packing and unpacking, saving you hours of time! Plus, everything is in one place and easy to find.
Pack a Full Camping Kitchen Into Your Box
Many RVers skimp on what they think they need when they pack their camping kitchen, thinking, I’m just going camping…how much could I need? The answer is you’ll need more than you think. Here’s what you should bring:
Pots, Pans, Plates, and Cups
- Large 12 to 15-inch sauté pan with a lid – do NOT bring a little tiny pan. Try to sauté vegetables in a small saucepan, and you’ve now created a situation where you are trying not to spill while stirring. Go gourmet size when cooking outdoors. It will make life more fun!
- Stockpot (one or two) or a Dutch oven – If you are cooking for four or more people, bring two pots of different sizes; usually, sizes between four and eight quarts work well.
- Mason jars with lids: These are great for making salad dressings or storing leftovers.
- Stainless (or plastic if you use a microwave) plates & bowls
Knives, Tools, and utensils
- A large wooden cutting board at least 12×8 inches (not plastic): Wood is more sanitary and easier to clean. After you use it, pour boiling water over it and scrub it thoroughly, and voilà, your board is clean!
- Sharp chef’s or Santoku knife
- Can opener, no camping kitchen is complete without one!
- Wine bottle opener – you can’t fill those wine tumblers with a closed bottle.
- Potato peeler: These are great for thinly sliced veggies like carrots or cucumbers for a salad and are easy to clean.
- Stainless nesting bowls with lids – The large bowl can be used to toss a salad, and the smaller bowls always come in handy to store leftovers, use for dips, or serve food.
- Kitchen utensils: wooden spoon, spatula, whisk, mixing spoon, tongs (2), large serving spoon
- Basic Supplies: Paper towel, food storage bags, foil, saran wrap
- Flatware (Set of 8)
- Ten kitchen towels (small and large): Yes, TEN! You never know when you will have a spill, and there’s usually no washing machine close by!
- Your favorite cleaning spray
- Dish soap – Dawn dish soap or equivalent
- Three bins for cleaning dishes and pans: one for the hot soapy water to soak, one for hot water to wash, and one for rinsing (these bins ideally should fit into your camping box)
- Rubber gloves – feel invincible with any camping kitchen mess you face with your hands protected. No mess will be too intimidating.
- Wipeable outdoor tablecloth that is large enough for an eight-foot table
Get A Proper Wipeable Tablecloth
Your kitchen workspace when you are camping is the campsite picnic table. So keep it clean by using a wipeable tablecloth. Our favorite is the LITOCLOTH by Luxury in the Outdoors because it fits nearly every picnic table you will encounter in campsites across the country. They are not only heavy-duty but also stylish and wipeable and come with straps to secure them on windy days. They even come with a cute backpack to store in your camping box.
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Lastly, planning your meals ahead of time helps keep your camping kitchen organized and ensures you haven’t forgotten any essential ingredients. If you have time to pre-chop anything, do it. At the very least, have a plan, so you know what you’re going to eat before you arrive at your destination. Most importantly, have fun!