There is nothing worse than finding yourself in the middle of nowhere on your camping trip and realising that you’ve forgotten to bring that extra large metal pot to cook your hearty stew in, or you’ve forgotten the knives and forks! So the first thing you should invest in is a camp cooking box in which you keep all your cooking equipment to guarantee that you never forget a thing. Being prepared ahead of time takes the hassle out of camp cooking and ensures that everyone will enjoy great meals.
As always, there are probably as many specially designed utensils to assist you with your camp cooking as you could buy for your kitchen at home, but you’re always going to be constrained by what you can comfortably carry. This will, of course, vary tremendously depending on whether or not you’re travelling by car or on foot alongside your own personal preferences. So, the easiest way to ensure that you don’t forget anything is to consider the size of your party and create a menu for every meal you intend having throughout the duration of your trip. That way, you’ll only have to take items you know you’ll definitely need and, if you think you’re going to have to carry too much, you should modify your menu accordingly.
However, this article will discuss the basics as the equipment you take will be governed by your party’s size, personal preferences and what you can comfortably carry.
First, try to go for aluminium plates, cutlery, pots and pans etc. They are far more durable than taking conventional crockery and saucepans, easier to clean, break less easily and, perhaps most importantly, are lighter to carry and can be packed away easily. Some sets can even be stored by placing one item inside the other to save even more space. If you’re only going to be camping for a night, paper or plastic disposable plates, knives, forks and spoons might be an even better alternative.
Insulated plastic mugs with lids you can drink through are great for keeping hot beverages warm, cold drinks cool and insects out of your drink. If you plan to grill, bring a grate with you, don’t assume your campsite will have one. Gather up a set of camping dishes and store them with your other equipment so they’re always ready. If you’re not sure what to include, go through your menu meal by meal and list the dishes and utensils you’ll require for each one.
Don’t forget to pack what you’ll need for the washing up – a separate washing up bowl, a dish cloth, a sponge and/or scourer, one or two tea towels and washing up liquid. On that note, it’s important to remember, if you plan on using a natural water source in which to wash up your equipment, e.g. a lake, river or stream, you should only use biodegradable environmentally friendly soap as conventional washing up liquid can pollute natural water supplies and cause harm to wildlife. This can be bought from any reputable outdoor stockists.
A thermos flask is also a useful item along with a refrigerated cooler, as these will enable you to keep things hot and cold respectively.
Your pots and pans should be large enough to accommodate your whole party’s needs and the food you’re planning to prepare will dictate the kinds of different pots and pans you should take. A lot of people forget to take pan lids, or can’t be bothered taking them but by using lids, your meals will be ready more quickly, you’ll save fuel if you’re using a propane or butane stove and they will keep unwanted flies and insects out of your food.
If you’re cooking over an open fire, long handled spoons and forks will ensure that you don’t burn your fingers if you’re stirring a pot or pan.
Aluminium foil is one of the camp cook’s best friends. Fold into packets for steaming vegetables on a grill or you can wrap potatoes in it for a perfectly baked spud. It can also enable you to wrap up and cook any fresh fish you may catch on your trip and grill or steam it to perfection. And, if you’ve forgotten any cups or plates, aluminium foil can be shaped into makeshift versions of a plate or cup as a last resort. In fact, its uses are endless.
If you are thinking of bringing olive or vegetable oil to fry and sugar to sweeten your hot drinks, transfer smaller amounts into suitable plastic containers to save you carrying large bottles or bags.
Although nothing beats a pot of cooked chilli or stew bubbling over an open fire, you can save time by freezing items such as these in small plastic containers, as they can be kept in a cooler and simply defrosted naturally and reheated when you’re hungry.
And, if you’re a connoisseur of filtered coffee and can’t begin the day without a caffeine ‘fix’, a dish cloth placed over a pot can have the desired effect if the thought of bringing a filter coffee maker is just too much.
The items you can take to help you with your cooking can quite literally be endless but below are several that you might consider, depending once again on your menu which you should also remember to take with you.
- Grill or some kind of griddle
- Eating utensils – knives, forks, spoons, mugs, bowls
- Pots and pans with lids
- Long handled spoons and forks
- Pot gripper and pot holder
- Napkins, paper towels, aluminium foil
- Coffee and tea paraphernalia – i.e. kettle, coffee pot, filters
- Tin opener
- Bottle opener
- Coolers (with ice)
- Thermos flask or thermal container
- Biodegradable soap
- Dishcloths, tea towels, pot scourer
- Washing up bowl
- Oven gloves or similar protective hand wear