Camping Cooking Checklist

Some campers swear that food cooked over an open fire tastes better than from anywhere else. Don’t count on this romantic notion of outdoor cooking to make up for a lack of planning when cooking at your camp. Make sure you have the right cooking gear and food items to create healthy, tasty and satisfying camping meals for everyone in your party. A little pre-planning goes a long way to properly feeding your family, scout troop, fishing buddies or fellow backpackers.

By planning ahead, you can create easy-to-prepare campout meals

Cooking Method

Whether you are cooking over an open fire, on a charcoal barbecue, or a kerosene or gas grill will determine what type of cooking supplies you will need. To create your heat, you may need matches, lighter fluid, coals, kerosene or propane. If you will be cooking over an open fire, keep matches or lighters in two different backpacks or boxes in case one is lost. Bring your own tinder to use in the event your camping area is wet. Check kerosene and propane appliances to make sure they are full and turn them on before you leave for your trip to make sure they work. Clean metal grills to remove rust and other debris.

The Right Utensils

Create a list of cooking pots, pans, bowls and utensils for preparing, serving and eating food based on a menu you create for the trip. Plan breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and use these menus to see exactly what you’ll need to cook, serve and eat each meal. If transportation is not a problem, consider a Dutch oven, which is a large, covered pot that camp cooks use for baking. Cooking on an open flame may not let you keep even heat, so stay away from delicate foods that require lots of attention. Flames and heat may also prevent you from comfortably reaching in to stir the contents of a pot or pan, so bring a long oven mitt.

Choose Fire- and Grill-Friendly Foods

Using your menu, create a grocery list that takes into consideration convenience, storage and a Plan B. The healthy appetites you plan on having after a day of camping may come with exhaustion, so just-add-water prepared foods may be a wise choice. You may also be unable to whip up that special meal you planned in the middle of a rain, wind or snow storm. Make sure the ingredients you planned for that meal can be eaten raw, or have a backup meal ready. Peanut butter and jelly, energy bars and jerky have saved more than one camping trip.

If you’ll be eating fish or game you’ll catch or take, consider bringing seasonings and marinades that make those proteins more palatable. To prevent animals from coming into your camp because of smells emanating from open boxes and bags, transfer pancake mixes, breads, cookies and other foods into air-tight plastic containers. Put foods in metal or plastic coolers.

Make Cleaning Easy 

With cooking comes washing. Make sure you have large tub in which to heat water and place dirty pots and pans. If you are backpacking, you may have to wash each dish by hand, so consider what type of cleaning pads, sponges or cloths you’ll need, as well as soaps and drying agents. Bring water purification tablets not only to make sure you have clean drinking water, but to make sure you can effectively sterilize dishes.

Additional Resources

Keep and Share: Camping Supply List

Love to Know: Printable Camping Supply List

Checklist for Camping