Cooking for a camping trip doesn't have to be difficult. With a little organization and a solid plan in place, any camp cook can keep his or her fellow campers happy and well-fed. Planning ahead, choosing simple meals and snacks, and following safe food-handling guidelines are all ways to make camp cooking safer, easier and more enjoyable.
Sit down one to two weeks before your camping trip and plan your meals and snacks. The Iowa State University Extension (See Resources) offers a printable four-day menu planner that includes spaces for all three meals and snacks. It includes space for noting what you have on hand and what you need to buy. It also has a checklist to record how you're doing with nutrition.
Remember to think about what foods will need to be kept cold and how much cooler space is available. Also note what utensils, pans and other cooking implements you'll need to prepare the meal.
Keep It Simple
Most people go camping to enjoy the outdoors, so make sure you aren't chained to a campfire all day cooking. Choose meals that can be prepped ahead of time. Chop vegetables, make hamburger patties or mix up meat marinades before you leave. Also try to find meals that won't use a lot of pots and pans. The more you need, the more you'll have to carry.
Only plan one elaborate meal a day. Choose quick snack and meal options for busy times, and make dinner your biggest meal. Keep your focus on the fun, not the food.
Don't forget to pack a meat thermometer, and print out the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service's (See Resources) chart of safe internal temperatures for cooked meats. Meat color is not necessarily an indication of safety, and the only way to determine if meat or poultry is fully cooked is to use an instant-read food thermometer.
Add fresh ice and drain the water from your cooler daily to ensure that foods requiring refrigeration are kept cool. The USDA recommends that food not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours, so store leftovers promptly or dispose of uneaten food according to the policies of the campground or park.
Article Written By Myrrh Hector
Based in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Myrrh Hector has been a professional writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on Helpful Mother and other websites. Hector studied English at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois and specializes in outdoor and health-related articles.