It’s always exciting to plan upcoming camping trips. Escaping to the great outdoors is an excellent way to make memories and relax, especially if you test out new gear or try a different location.
Although you fill your camping trips with hiking, rock climbing and meditation at sunrise, you’ll discover a few routine chores to do along the way. Cooking, for example, might be the last thing you want to do. Yet you’ll want to think about it before leaving home.
Don’t consider yourself the Rachel Ray of the underbrush? Follow the seven tips below. You’ll learn how to cut your packing list, maximize your equipment and make cooking easier.
1. Pack Pre-Mixed Pancakes
Pancakes are the ultimate campfire breakfast. You can add anything you’d like — berries, chocolate chips, bananas and nuts — and they still taste amazing. Yet if you don’t plan the meal, it can be a bit messy.
Instead of bringing the box of pancake mix, along with the other ingredients, pre-mix everything before you leave home and store the batter in a ziplock bag. To keep things mess-free, store everything in the cooler until you’re ready for breakfast.
2. Scramble Eggs in a Bottle
Packing a carton of eggs in your already too-full cooler is not a risk you want to take. If you still want this breakfast staple, crack the eggs beforehand and pour them into a plastic bottle.
Shake the eggs to scramble, and store them in the cooler until they’re ready to hit the skillet. This hack makes early morning breakfast much simpler and cuts down on the potential for a messy situation.
3. Choose Cast-Iron
If you’re serious about cooking full meals while camping, a cast-iron skillet or griddle is a must. Cookware made of iron is an excellent choice for campfires because it evenly distributes heat and is tolerant of high temperatures. Plus, when seasoned correctly, it’s virtually non-stick.
If you plan to cook over flames, a general rule of thumb is to create a clearance three times the height of the fire. Plus, set up your pit at least 10 feet away from tents and other structures.
4. Add Double-Pie Irons
Sometimes it’s hard to control the temperature of your food when you cook over an open fire. A pie iron, on the other hand, fixes that problem. It evenly cooks everything from pizza and cheeseburgers to pie and apple crumble. Plus, it can double as a set of skewers.
5. Foil for the Win
Aluminum foil is a campfire cook’s best friend. It’s affordable, easy to pack and the simplest solution to eating well in the wilderness. All you have to do is wrap your veggies, potatoes or fish and place it on hot coals. Be sure to flip occasionally to cook both sides.
No need to pack a heavy skillet or grill. As long as you’re okay with eating simple, foil packets are the way to go for pre-camping preparation.
6. Keep Cold Food Cold
It won’t matter what food you bring along if you can’t keep it cold. The last thing you want is to open your cooler and find everything spoiled.
Instead of filling your cooler with ice cubes, fill it with blocks, which take longer to melt. Freeze water in ziplock bags or plastic containers. You can also buy commercial-grade ice packs. Plus, a well-insulated cooler doesn’t hurt.
7. Make the Perfect Fire
Ready to get cooking? A teepee or cone campfire is ideal for cooking, as it lets in plenty of oxygen. To make a cone fire, lay down a large bundle of tinder. Use small pieces of kindling to form the upright structure. Wait until the wood burns through, and the structure falls. Then, add a pot to the hot coals — or your tinfoil-wrapped dinner.
Another option is the platform or upside-down pyramid fire, where you stack logs together tightly. With this style, you start the fire at the top instead of the bottom. This technique burns down the wood instead of up, creating a solid platform of coals you can cook on. Set your pan directly on the coals and the fire will sustain itself.
Planning Your Next Camping Trip? Remember to Prep
The key to easy cooking while camping is to prepare as much as possible. Pre-make your favorite breakfast foods, including pancakes and eggs. Pack the right items, such as cast-iron pans and tinfoil. Plus, you should learn how to make the right type of fire.
Don’t sacrifice your favorite foods while on the trail. Instead, plan ahead and dine like royalty.