STOCKING UP YOUR CAMP KITCHEN: WHAT TO BRING FOR THE ULTIMATE OUTDOOR COOKING EXPERIENCE
Nothing beats a good, home cooked meal and that’s equally true outdoors. For a unique and memorable experience in keeping yourself and your mates fed, a plain old sandwich just isn’t going to do the trick. There are many ways to cook a meal while you are camping, and some basic equipment is all you need to go from plain to gourmet.
A quick note about packing; whenever possible and especially if you plan to camp on a regular basis, keep a bin that’s packed with all your camp kitchen tools and utensils and is designated only for your trips. That way things don’t get unpacked and forgotten on the next adventure. If you’re not able to do that, at the very least keep a master list of essential items to reference whenever you’re packing.
HOW MANY ESKIES
First and foremost, you’ll need something to keep your food and drinks cold and fresh. Conventional wisdom suggests that you have at least 2 eskies; one for food and one for drinks, making it easier to grab a can or bottle instead of having to dig around through food each time. Many camping veterans bring 3, however; one for meat, cheese and dairy, one for fruit and veg, and another for drinks. The line of thinking here is for simple food safety and to avoid cross-contamination concerns. There are several collapsible can coolers that are perfectly suited for drinks and easy to transport. Whatever esky setup you decide to go with, make sure to bring plenty of ice and if need be, scout out locations to go and get more should you need it. A lot of family campgrounds will have bagged ice or ice machines for campers to access.
COOKWARE AND THE OPEN FLAME
If you’re going to do your cooking over a campfire, you’ll need cookware that will stand up to an open flame, such as cast iron. Cast iron skillets and camp ovens are a terrific and versatile choice that can cook everything from eggs to stew and beyond. Remember to bring oven mitts and pot holders so you don’t burn yourself on a hot pan. This is a common rookie mistake, and it’s easy to avoid if you’re mindful. Campfire cooking also requires you to build an actual fire, so don’t forget plenty of firewood, matches or a lighter and some fuel if the weather is windy or wet and you’re having trouble getting your fire started.
If you’re going to be cooking on a fuel camp stove, you won’t have to worry about firewood, but you will want to have a windscreen to keep your flame from extinguishing. Don’t forget to bring extra canisters of fuel with you, you might use more than you anticipated and nothing’s worse than running out and resorting back to that plain old sandwich again.
PUT THE KETTLE ON
For those who enjoy a cup of morning coffee or tea, be sure to bring a pot or kettle to heat water in, as well as a French press or tea bags. Hot chocolate is another favourite at the campsite and is easy to mix up and enjoy by the fire. Bring enough mugs for everyone in your group.
FROM THE GADGET DRAWER
Other items that are frequently and regrettably forgotten but should always be in your gear bin include a set of sharp knives, a can opener, a bottle opener or corkscrew, spatulas, dinnerware and utensils, cups, aluminium foil, plastic zip-top bags, garbage bags and food storage containers. These may seem like trivial items, but you don’t want to be stuck with several canned goods and nothing to open them with!
WHEN ALL IS SAID, DONE AND EATEN
After all the prepping and cooking is done, you’re going to need to clean up. Important items for tidying up are plenty of dish soap, paper towels, a dishwashing tub or table with sink basin, sponge and dish towels. If you don’t have a source of running water nearby, be sure to pack plenty of fresh water in jugs or bottles to wash and rinse with.
Cooking at the campsite can be an enjoyable and satisfying experience that can be shared with everyone in your group. Get your best mates or children involved in prepping, setting places at a table and cleaning. Sitting down to a home-cooked meal amidst a backdrop of natural splendour is sure to be an experience you’ll never forget.
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