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February 05, 2018

Any avid camper will tell you that food tastes better outdoors.

It’s something about the infused campfire taste that makes all the hassle of cooking outside worth it. The things is, cooking while camping doesn’t need to be a hassle. With a little preparation, willingness and these helpful tips, you’ll be on your way to enjoying the best camping food you could imagine.

Prepare Yourself

The best way to ensure a great meal outdoors is to be as prepared as possible. This requires a little more work before camping, but will definitely save time and keep you from packing extra supplies. It’s a good idea to chose and pack your ingredients, depending on what you’re making, and store them in airtight ziplock bags. To make your life even easier, you can prepare a meal like soup or pasta at home than freeze, store and bring it with you. A pre-packaged meal can simply be reheated on the grill.

Cooking Supply List

There are few more things to bring besides food.

  • Matches
  • Lighter fluid
  • Medium pot
  • Medium pan
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Portable Grate
  • Utensils
  • Backpacking Stove (like the MRS Pocket Rocket) for non-campfire cooking
  • Gas canisters

Not Everything is Done Over a Fire 

Now, before packing any supplies, first thing’s first: how do you want to cook your food? When cooking outside, there are a few options, which all require their own methods.

Cook Over an Open Flame

The most traditional method of campfire cooking is literally cooking in the campfire. This is a simple and effective way to cook your food in direct, high heat. To successfully use this method, wrap individual food in heavy duty aluminum foil. To cook, place the wrapped food in hot coals and check it frequently to make sure it has not burned. Pro tip: add a few ice cubes to the food inside the foil to prevent burning and keep it moist.

Get to Grillin’

Another method of cooking outside also utilizes a campfire. Instead of placing your food directly on coals, place a grate over the open flame. This opens up your options to use the foil-wrapping method or cook in a pot or pan. Even so, the heat is inconsistent, so it needs to be managed carefully.

Ditch the Fire

There is another way of cooking outdoors that requires no fire at all. This method uses a backpacking stove, like the MSR Pocket Rocket. This can be a safer option since it prevents any risk of a forest fire. These lightweight stoves are perfect for one-pot meals that you can even prepare ahead of your trip.

Keep it Clean

When camping, the cleaning process is just as important as the cooking. It’s important to leave as little impact possible on the natural environment. All you really need is a little bit of biodegradable soap, small sponge and hot water. It’s smart to get a pot of water boiling before you finish cooking so it will be ready when it’s time to clean. After scrubbing your equipment clean, dispose of it by tossing the water over a widespread area. This way, none of the waste is concentrated in any one spot.

A Few More Tips

  • Keep your food stored away to protect it from animals. Avoid ground level and hang it up between two trees
  • Don’t eat where you sleep. Try to cook at least 100 yards away from your tent
  • Eat everything. Try to only cook what you need to avoid storing leftovers
  • Measure your ingredients at home and store them in labeled bags
  • Clean immediately after finishing. There’s no sink to soak your dishes in. It’s best to clean your pots and pans before the food dries up and potentially attracts animals
  • Freeze your meat. You can store it in your cooler before cooking to keep the other food cold
  • Take precaution when using gas canisters. Make sure to keep the upright, store them outside with proper ventilation and make sure they are turned off when not in use
  • Cover your pots. This will help your food cook faster and prevent first and insects from contaminating it
  • Properly freeze your food. If you’re planning on storing your food for an extended period of time, use black ice in the cooler instead of cubes. They last longer
  • Try to bring fireproof cooking equipment. The best thing you can do when cooking outside is to be safe. Be careful of handling your equipment and food over hot flames