Preparation - Pack It Right
If it's your first time camp cooking, it's ok to over pack. It's much better to have more than you need than to really miss the one thing you don't.
Remember that camp meals should be simple to prepare and filling! Before you take a trip, plan the menu for each meal you're going to cook, and then make a list of all the ingredients you'll need. This helps to ensure that you won't forget anything you need. You may want to put all of your supplies in a "Grub Box" - a container in which you'll keep spices, measuring spoons and cups, utensils, and other tools which you'll want with you for cooking. A cooler will also be a big help for keeping perishable food good and for providing cold drinks on hot days.
These tips may also help you save space and prepare the right way for camp cooking:
- Measure the dry ingredients for each meal before you go, and store them in labeled "ziplock" bags.
- Prepare your soups, stews, and chili beforehand, then freeze them and keep them in your cooler to help other food stay cold. You can also pre-cook and store rice and noodles this way.
- Bring small amounts of oil and other cooking materials. Store them in little plastic bottles in your Grub Box to help save space. Use film canisters to store spices like salt and pepper -- there are even special lids that you can buy to turn them into instant shakers!
- Pack a grill grate! Not all campsites have them, and they make cooking much easier.
- Instead of regular bread, think about packing pitas or flatbread, which are easier to store without smushing while camping.
- A small cutting board provides a clean surface any time you need one.
- Metal measuring cups won't melt in the fire.
- One of most commonly forgotten tools is a hand-crank can opener -- don't forget!
- When you reach your campsite, be sure to store your food where the animals won't get it - you can hoist it at least ten feet off the ground with a bag and a rope, use a an animal-proof storage canister that you keep at least 50 feet from your campsite, or use the permanent animal-proof storage containers provided for campers at many campsites.
Keep It Cold
Unless you're out in the wilderness, a cooler is one of the most important items you'll need for camp cooking. In general, be sure to pack everything you're storing in your cooler in watertight bags or containers, because no matter how much ice you pack, it's guaranteed to melt. There's nothing worse than soggy supplies.
Keep these tips in mind when packing your cooler to make the most of your "cold storage".
For more information on preparing your food and cleaning up afterwards, continue to the next part of our camp cooking article, Quick Cooking and Quick Cleanup.