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Tips on Camp Cooking

3 November 2016
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Make everyone want to kiss the cook!

When you are cooking in the outdoors, the same rules that you may be used to in the kitchen do not apply. As a result, camp cooking requires a bit more preparation than traditional cooking. However, you can make fast and easy meals that will wow everyone and not cost you a single drop of sweat by following these simple pointers.

Camp cooking can either be a blast or a disaster. While nearly everything tastes better when you cook it outside, it is the flavor of fun that really makes or breaks a camp cooking experience. To cook successfully while camping, you have to hit just the right combination of relaxation, planning and good food preparation. A little advance planning can go a long way toward making your camp cooking a hit instead of a major miss.

camp-cooking

For starters, get the right supplies. These supplies and equipment will vary dramatically based on how long you will be camping, how experienced of a camper you are and how simple a dish can be and still make you and your co-campers happy. Also, the type of equipment at your disposal will have a lot to do with how far you have to pack all of this equipment and also how invested you are in your camping experience. Here are just a few of the most popular camp cooking options. Many people consider traveling in an RV camping. While many of you may be rolling your eyes at this point, if you do consider RV travel camping, then your camp cooking can remain almost identical to the cooking you do at home. In fact, you will mostly be limited by the amount of space in your RV’s mini fridge since you will need that to store perishable items. However, if you feel that camp cooking should at least take place outside – and most campers do – then you may prefer some other slightly simpler alternatives such as a double burner camp stove, a grill or a fire grate. A double or single burner camp stove is powered by fuel like propane or a gasoline powered generator. They are quite heavy, but allow you to make more than one dish at a time and to cook more complicated meals while still cooking outside. If you are going to bring a camp stove of this nature, be sure that you will not have to pack it very far unless you are used to the nature of this particular burden’s size, shape and weight. Easier, lighter items of equipment include grills, which can be set up over the coals of a fire or can hold charcoal but are rather cumbersome, or folding grates, which allow you to cook using a pan or a skillet over an open flame. Of course, you can also just stick with the classic camp cooking methods of wrapping things like potatoes, steaks and corn cobs in tin foil, then roasting them in the flames or impaling items on sticks and toasting them over the coals.

A small grill can make camp cooking feel like a backyard barbeque.

Once you have decided how you will be cooking, it is time to determine what you will be cooking. Try to make things that can be completely consumed in one sitting so that you do not have to deal with leftovers or disposing of food in a way that will not attract insects and wild animals. Hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers and small steaks are all good because they can be eaten completely and leave little or nothing left over once you are done. Potatoes are also good because they are not only full of carbohydrates, which will give you energy for setting up camp and hiking, but they can be cooked quickly and easily in an open fire. If you are still hungry after one potato, just whip up another. Avoid planning elaborate meals while camping. You should have two things that need to be cooked at the most. Then, supplement with things like canned or fresh fruit, potato chips or snack cookies to add another side dish or dessert to the mix. It also helps to cook in stages, much as you would if you were planning a meal with multiple courses. For example, you might all roast hot dogs over the fire and eat them while the potatoes are baking in the coals. Then, once you have finished the potatoes and a fruit salad, you can all roast marshmallows and have s’mores for dessert. This meal is hearty and full of companionship, and requires next to no cleanup when you are done. All you will have to do is ball up the tin foil if you are not going to reuse it and clean the marshmallow goo off the stakes that you used for roasting them. Then you are ready to move on to hiking, telling campfire stories or crawling into your snug, warm tents.

This grill will enable you to cook over the fire the same way you would on a stove.

When you are the one in charge of camp cooking, you will find that you also are held responsible for camp cooking clean up. Even if others help you, you will still end up with the bulk of the work. As a result, you need to plan your meals with cleanup in mind. If you do not expect to be eating before dark, for example, then you should probably stick to dishes that require minimal equipment for preparation. Every dirty dish, pot and pan will have to be washed before you do anything else after eating. If the insects are bad, you might have to clean while everyone else is eating if you have an elaborate setup for your camp cooking and use a lot of pots, pans and utensils. It is best to use as few items of cooking paraphernalia as possible in the evening when people are cutting loose and relaxing and it will be hard to get cleanup help. In the morning, you will have less trouble finding someone to help you scrub pans if you want to make scrambled eggs and sausage.

Finally, develop your entire meal plan before you ever set out on your camping trip. This will help you buy effectively and efficiently as well as making the hike to your campsite easier since you will not be carrying bulky food items that you may not end up eating. The most important thing about camp cooking is that it should make the experience more fun, not less. So do not spend too much time worrying about it, and just have a good time cooking in the great outdoors.

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