Anyone who enjoys spending evenings in a rustic environment under the stars, such as in your RV or camping in the woods, should know these ten tips for cooking meals while camping. With the use of water at a minimum in primitive camping spots, there are some tips and tricks to making easy and tasty dishes that require few utensils and even less clean up of camping cooking equipment.
Get A Cast Iron
Purchase just one medium-size cast iron skillet and you’ll find it comes in handy a multitude of ways while preparing your camping meals. Since cast iron disperses heat more evenly than other metals, a cast iron skillet will work beautifully for cooking everything from the freshest cornbread to the most delectable steak. Thinner metals also will tend to scorch that part of your meal which is over the hottest coals while leaving the cooler side less well done. When finished cooking with a cast-iron skillet, all you need to do is wipe out the skillet with a clean paper towel. A pretty easy cleanup and no water needed.
2. Make A One Pan Meal
Plan and prepare meals that use just one pan. Using that cast iron skillet as a cooking vessel for double or even triple duty will compute to less cleanup. So, fry your bacon in a cast iron skillet and dump some of the grease out. Add in your eggs, and you have a delicious campfire breakfast in no time. You can even butter toast and throw it into the same pan to brown it. Using just one pan will make clean up much easier. For a delicious dinner entrée, sauté some vegetables in olive oil, throw in some ground beef, and add some seasonal vegetables for a one-pan meal. Top with cheese for some added calories (if, of course, you need them…).
3. Bring A Grilling Basket
Bring along a grilling basket for grilling fresh vegetables. Fresh vegetables can be wrapped in aluminum or, for a more authentic campfire taste, place your vegetables in a grilling basket and place eight to twelve inches over your campfire, depending on the heat. Just turn frequently so your vegetables don’t burn in the basket. A grilling basket will also work well for grilling any type of meat, such as small pieces of chicken, beef or pork, or for grilling breakfast sausage.
4. Zip-Lock Storage
If you’re backpacking and are concerned about the weight you’re carrying, use gallon-size plastic zip-lock storage bags to store food items. Plastic storage bags are great to use to transport already marinated meat to your campsite. You can even pack some ice in a ziplock (double bagging it) and stow your meat next to the ice bag to keep it cool. A side benefit is that once the ice melts, you’ll have fresh, cool drinking water to sip. To prepare your meal, just open the bag containing the meat, place the meat on a grate above your campfire and voila – instant gourmet meal. Gallon size zip lock bags are also great to use for that pre-cocktail rum runner frozen drink. Freeze your drink overnight and it will thaw slowly during the day. Your rum runner will be just right for sipping in front of your campfire as you prepare the rest of your meal.
5. Use Nature’s Utensils (If You Need To)
Get creative and search your surroundings for cooking utensils. Instead of toting long-handled forks or skewers, find some long sticks at your campsite and strip them of any leaves or side branches. Use these homemade skewers to spear your hot dogs and place your entrée right over the campfire. When you’re done cooking those dogs, throw your stick right into the fire. Talk about recycling. Added benefit? No cleanup needed.
6. Get It Canned
If you’re concerned about spoilage of fresh vegetables, purchase canned vegetables instead. Pick up a few cans of good quality vegetables, open the cans and place directly in the campfire, on the coals, or on a propane camp stove. The vegetables are quite safe to eat when prepared this way, and you only need to throw away the can after cooking. Any item you purchase in the can may be heated up in this fashion.
7. Pre Season
For the easiest seasoning of camping meals, premix any seasonings you anticipate using. You can even add Worcestershire sauce to a zip lock bag, add in garlic powder, onion salt, and pepper and have steak seasoning ready to go. This mixture can be great to use on a baked potato or any type of vegetable also. Bring along only as much seasoning as you think you’ll use so you don’t have to tote the remainder home with you when you’re done camping.
8. Bring Charcoal
If you’re car camping and not concerned about weight, use a charcoal chimney to light the coals for your campfire. A charcoal chimney will start the coals in a fraction of the time that traditional charcoal fluid will use and will give you a cleaner taste to your food. All you need is one sheet of newspaper, a match, and charcoal. Place the newspaper in the bottom of the charcoal chimney and coals on top. Light the newspaper and sit back. You’ll have glowing coals in 20 short minutes.
Make delicious baked potatoes by wrapping cleaned potatoes in aluminum foil. These can even be prepared at home and toted along. For added interest, slit the potato in 5 or 6 slices, and then add butter to each slit along with a piece of onion. Simply toss your potato packets into the coals of the campfire and turn every ten minutes until soft in the middle. A delicious side dish for very little effort and, better yet, no cleanup except the crumpling of the aluminum foil.
If you’re looking for the easiest foods for cooking meals while camping, purchase some of the dehydrated packets found at any outdoor store. You’ll be able to find almost every type of food, including scrambled eggs, in dehydrated packs. Just add some heated water to the packet, seal for the prescribed amount of time, open and eat. If you want to have a complete meal, you can purchase some MRE (meals, ready-to-eat) which are 3 or 4 course meals, complete with a flavoring packet for your drinking water. MREs have come a long way from the meals our military had to endure during WWI and WW2.
Dickie N. ~ “You had us on the road within two hours on Christmas day! The follow up by Coach-Net to assure we were taken care of was great! Thank you!”