Everyone knows that whether you are home or on holiday food is what brings people together and aside from keeping you in good health and alive food is important. The first and foremost thing to organise when going camping is the food, the snacks and the drinks. When you are on holiday cooking might be a bit of an issue because you won’t have a stove and an oven at your convenience and washing up might cause a little difficulty. You have to make do with what you have but don’t make the mistake of not taking the essentials. The camping essentials include a can opener, a knife, cooking utensils, cups, plates, forks, spoons and a cookbox to keep everything in. You can even purchase foldaway kitchens which give you a little space to work with when preparing and cooking food and they are great for inside the tent or outside by the campfire. Always research into the campsite or place you are going because many have BBQ facilities or a ban on lighting fires. Some campsites have stations where you can do the washing up and others even have on-site kitchens which you can use. Always look into this before you start making your plans because you could go fully prepared for a week of surviving without any amenities and for all you know, you might be pitched next door to a common kitchen and bathroom!
When considering meals and drinks make a list of how many there is going to be, two or ten. This makes a huge difference on the types of food you need to bring along. Always note any allergies or foods which people don’t like so no-one goes hungry. Think about what you need for three meals a day, check out our list for camping meals for a week if you need some inspiration and our list of easy to make camping food if you want some meal ideas. After you have worked out the main and most important meals think about extra snacks and of course drinks. Drinks for the kids, drinks for the adults (the most important!), hot and cold beverages and water. You will need plenty of water for cooking, cleaning and drinking so make sure you stock up. If you are going to a campsite then there is most likely a shop on-site but they are usually expensive so try to take extra if you can. Most of the food you will take will need to be stored in a cool box but canned and bagged food which has a long-shelf life can be stored outside of the coolbox. Try to think of practical snacks that won’t melt, go off or get crushed in the journey from home to campsite.
Prep Equipment List
A knife in a knife carrier is the safest and most reliable option to take camping. You will need the basics like tin foil, a vegetable peeler, a cutting board, paper towels, a set of bowls to prep food in, eating bowls and utensils and mugs. These are the basics that you will need to cook a meal.
We really like this STAINLESS FILLET KNIFES (3), RIGGING SCISSORS, CUTTING BOARD, SHARPENER, AND CARRYING CASE which is easy to travel with and is safe for keeping the knives in one place. We also love this 12 piece set of folding pots and pans so you can create all those tasty dishes with ease. We love camping sets like these because they allow for easy storage and easy use.
Another trick of the trade which many people don’t know about is to use travel bottles for washing up liquid and soap. You know the little bottles of shampoo you get from the hotel when you go on holiday, try buying a few of them, wash them, boil them and fill them up with washing liquid because it will save on space. Make sure you take a washing up sponge with you as well. Keep a bag or box to one side with items like this in as you don’t want to get them mixed up with the food.
We also have another great tip – take plastic cups and utensils. This will save on the washing up and will avoid breakages. When you are done with plates, cups and forks just keep a carrier bag to one side to use as a rubbish bin.
Food, Food and More Food
Next we move onto packing and preparing the food. If you are getting to the campsite in a car then you will have the room for coolboxes and boxes with food and drink. The key to saving room and packing right is having everything neatly organised before you go.
In the first cooler you will want to keep sandwiches and snacks which you have prepared for the first day or two and things that go off quickly – things you will need to eat on the way there and within the first 24 hours. Pack things like hard boiled eggs, ready made rolls and sandwiches, chopped fruit, salads and maybe even pre-cooked pasta meals. These will keep everyone going until you get settled. This cool box should be the food and meals that you will eat within two days. Make sure when preparing meals and snacks you use this box first. To help stop confusion add some sticky labels to each box so everyone knows what to eat and what not to eat.
In the next cooler you will want to pack everything which is meat. This one you should try to fill up with ice every day. Here you can include things like burgers, chicken and hot dogs. Keep cooked meat separate from uncooked meat and make sure everything is wrapped up double with plastic bags so one food will not contaminate another.
Have another cooler with other perishable goods like milk, eggs, fruit, veggies and butter. This makes it easy when you are prepping and cooking food and it makes it easy for everyone when everything is organised.
The next thing you need to have is a snacks box and a box with non perishable goods. For example in the snacks box you can keep cookies, fruit bars, energy bars, nuts, dried fruit and literally snacks which everyone will pick on during the day. In another box keep dry goods like pasta, rice, tortilla wraps, bread, tea, coffee and sugar for example. Pancake mix is a good one to take along and make sure you don’t forget the important items like cooking oil, spices and syrups. In one cooler make sure you are packed full of drinks like bottled water, squash and juice. Especially if the weather is hot everyone will need a lot of drink and for those evenings when the kids are in bed you might want to share a bottle of wine (which is of course the most important!)
Best Choice Products SKY1415 Multi Function Rolling Cooler with Table and 2 Chairs Picnic Camping Outdoor
Here, we love all things that are multi-functional. We stumbled across this amazing cool box which has a fold out table and chairs either side of it. This is perfect for parents with little ones and will give you some extra space for prepping food. You can also get it in red so you can color code your coolers and this packs down really easy into a compact box so you don’t have to worry about it taking up extra space.
We also really like these clear with blue aquarium latches deep clip sterilite boxes. They come in a set of four containers with each one having their own tight-clasping latches that hold the lids securely to the base. With this set, you will have a container for snacks, one for tins, one for cooking products and one for the extra bits. These containers are durable and stack really well for easy traveling in a car as well as stacking them securely outside your tent. Make sure the lids are secure at all times to stop wild animals from stealing your food!
Tops Tips For Campers – Novice and Pro
Here are the top tips on setting up your very own camp kitchen, selecting your specific cooking gear and utensils, and making life easier for the camp chef. Cooking can be as simple as you make it, like hot dogs on a skewer, or it can be a truly gourmet experience with fresh produce baked over an open roaring fire. Some campers get really into the cooking in the outdoors and others don’t enjoy it at all. Others just want to eat simply, so they can get out and about and do other things like fun activities such as sightseeing, fishing, or hiking. Everyone has their own style and it is down to you to choose which works best. Here are our tips, from us to you!
- 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, washing up sponge, 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 or invest in some gel packs which will last even longer.
- 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, zucchini, 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 and instant coffee just doesn’t do the trick in most cases.
- Swiss Army type pocket knives 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 pocket knives 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.
- Make sure you have all the appropriate equipment before you leave because you don’t want to go and forget the most important items – like the tent.
Don’t Forget About Campfire Safety
You really need to be aware when making a campfire and before you start cooking you need to make sure it is safe to avoid accidents. Make sure you keep a ten foot radius between any objects and the fire. For example leave a few metres between camp chairs, tents and luggage. The campfire can easily let off sparks which can have your tent up in flames within minutes. It always pays off to be careful. Throughout the whole time that the campfire is alight always look around and be aware of both people and other objects in the nearby area.
Safety proof your pit. A lot of people forget about this but it is really important. Most campgrounds will already have a pit dug out but some don’t. Depending also on who was there before you it might not be ready to use straight away. First of all make sure you clear all debris from around the fire pit, including garbage and grass. There should be a 5-foot perimeter of soil around the campfire space. Next check to see if there is a metal ring surrounding the pit, if there is no metal ring, circle the pit with rocks. If your fire grows in size, this will help keep it within these borders. Last but not least keep any flammable items far from the fire. This includes aerosol cans and pressurized containers.
Always have water nearby at hand because one gust of wind or one dry bit of wood can cause the fire to increase in size before you know it. Have a shovel nearby if you can and soil to help put out the fire in an emergency. Making sure you can control the fire is just as important as the preparation and putting it out.
Every camper knows how easy it is to get distracted and to walk away from the fire. If there is a group of you then take turns in keeping a close eye on the fire because this can help reduce unseen accidents. Make sure to always warn your children of the dangers of an open fire so they don’t get too close. Make sure you build the fire sensibly at the beginning and start with the appropriate materials. Start the fire with kindling and put the wood in a teepee shape around that, as the fire takes then add bits of wood to it continually but not all at once. Avoid using flammable liquids to light your fire because these smell, can get out of hand and will make your food have a funny taste to it.
Once you have had fun around the campfire and all had something to eat you need make sure the fire is extinguished before you all retire. Throwing water on the fire will help reduce it or throw dirt on it. These two are the best options in putting out the fire. Make sure you stir the embers around so that another fire doesn’t start. In a perfect situation the embers will be wet and cold before you go to bed. Every camper will say that camping isn’t camping without an open fire. Don’t forget a holiday could be quickly ruined if you don’t take correct measures in ensuring everyone’s safety. Keep these tips in mind and always ask a fellow camper if you aren’t sure what you are doing.
Everyone knows the key to going on a great camping trip is the planning and the prepping so once the hard work is out of the way all you need to do is sit back and enjoy yourself. Plan your meals, plan your food and pack simply but practically and you can ensure that you will enjoy the time off with nature.
If you go with friends then ask them to do the same so everyone is just as equally organised and if you forget something then they might bring it along and vice versa. It pays off in the end and we wish you a happy and safe camping trip!!