Plan the Menu
Tally the number of meals you will need to prepare, and make a menu of what you would like. This may seem a little tedious, but it will pay off when you shop and pack for the trip. Planning out your meals ensures you will not over or underestimate the amount of food you need. Do not forget to include condiments, spices, butter and oil in your planning process.
It will not be any fun to be sitting 30 miles from the nearest town with a can of chili and no can opener. Make sure you have everything you need to prepare your food. A basic camp kitchen should have a few simple utensils, a small cutting board and knife, can opener, spatula and mixing spoon, pot and pan with lid, dish, cup, tinfoil, plastic bags and a washing basin. Store all of your supplies in a bin with a tight-fitting lid.
Check your stove before you get out there, and make sure it is clean, working properly and has all the parts intact. Fill the propane tank or purchase enough butane to get through the trip. If you just picked up a brand new stove, practice with it a little so you can work out any kinks. You do not want to be staggering into camp after a 15-mile hike only to find out your butane stove will not work with the denatured alcohol you picked up.
For car camping, a good cooler is essential. The lid must fit tightly and have enough room to store your perishable food. Pack drinks and snacks in one cooler and meal foods in the other to prevent constant rummaging around, which will limit the cooler's effectiveness. When using ice, use block ice and store foods in multiple plastic bags so they do not get soggy.
Measure out your dry ingredients, and put them in Ziploc bags before you head out. Use instant products when possible to reduce cooking time. You can prepare some foods ahead of time, like stews, and freeze them until its time for the trip. Try to stay away from raw meat products as these can spoil in very hot weather.