How to Be a Good Camping Cook

How to Be a Good Camping Cook
Camping out can be a challenge for the cook who is unprepared for roughing it outdoors. Being a good camping cook requires more than just basic cooking skills. You need to be able to adapt to cooking away from the conveniences of modern appliances, know how to keep camp food clean and sanitary, and, above all, you must be adaptable. With a little prep and a few good tools, a good camp cook can whip up a hardy meal without resorting to cold cuts and hot dogs.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cooking gear
  • Camp stove
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Water-tight box
  • Bungee cords
  • Vinyl picnic cloth
  • Wash basin
  • Dish soap
  • Towels
  • Disinfectant
  • Trash bags
Step 1
Plan a menu that is flexible and realistic. Consider the other activities that will be going on at camp. Will there be an early morning hike or float trip--evening campfire gatherings? Make sure that you'll have enough time to prepare and clean up after each meal,including time to light a fire if cooking over charcoal. You may want to pack extra sandwich fixings in case of rain, spontaneous camp activities that cut into meal prep time or just in case the cook gets tired.
Step 2
Test menu items at home. Camp isn't the best place to experiment with food, especially when there are hungry campers depending on you. New camp menus can be tested on a charcoal BBQ to see how they will work in the field. Remember that fires do not provide the same consistent heat as a stove. If you're packing a propane camp stove, you won't need to worry about your heat source, but do make sure that you can prepare your meals with just two burners.
Step 3
Pack the right gear. After putting together a camp menu, check each meal to see what gear will be needed to prepare the meal. Make a list and check off each item when packing cooking gear. Nothing will make a camp cook more unhappy than realizing he didn't pack a required skillet, set of tongs or other equipment.
Step 4
Pack plenty of ice to keep the cooler cold. Bring money to purchase more ice if the camping trip will last more than a weekend. Plan the menu, so food that needs careful temperature control, like milk or raw meat, is eaten first.
Step 5
Pack food that does not require refrigeration in a water-tight box to protect it from rain, damp air and bugs. Wrap the box with bungee cords to prevent raccoons from getting it or store the box overnight in a locked car.
Step 6
Cook some foods ahead of time to cut down on meal prep at camp and to decrease the risk of serving undercooked meat. Consider precooking ground beef or chicken at home for a foil-pack dinner or pot of chili. Or if you don't want to spend time at home precooking food, you could buy heat-and-serve bacon or sausage links to get a hearty camp breakfast served in a fraction of the time.
Step 7
Pack cleaning gear for a safe camp kitchen. Spread a vinyl picnic cloth over a picnic bench to provide a clean work surface. Bring at least two wash tubs to clean dishes--one for hot soapy water and one for rinse water. Use towels and disinfectant spray to clean up the cook site after meal prep. Bring small trash bags to collect kitchen waste while cooking.

Article Written By Denise Bertacchi

Denise Bertacchi is a freelance writer with a degree in journalism from Southeast Missouri State University. She is a St. Louis suburbanite who has written for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boys' Life, Wisconsin Trails, and Missouri Life.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.