Cooking in the outdoors need not be limited to hot dogs and s’mores. With the right ingredients, tools and know-how, you can prepare gourmet feasts without a gourmet kitchen. The keys are planning and prep. We've compiled some tips, a packing list and a few recipes perfect for your next campout. Bon appetit!
- Plan and prepare as much of your meals as you can at home. The more you can do at home the more time you have to enjoy the outdoors. Precut things like veggies and meats. If your recipe calls for spices and dry ingredients, mix these ahead of time and store in a zip lock bag. Pack vegetables that have longer shelf lives like peppers and nightshades. Bring fruits that don’t need to be kept cold. Go for apples, bananas and oranges instead of berries.
- Freeze meat before putting in the cooler. Not only will it keep longer, it can help keep other items in the cooler cold.
If possible cook everything in one pan. Veggies and meats usually take the same amount of time to cook. If you have to cook items at different times, wrap your cooked ingredients in heavy-duty aluminum foil to keep them hot while you finish with the others.
Coat the outside of your pans with a thin layer of liquid soap before cooking. This will make them easier to clean. While you’re eating, boil a pot of water over the fire or stove to use for cleaning pots and utensils once you’re finished eating.
If food sticks to the bottom of your pan, add a little dish soap and enough water to cover the pan. Heat until the water boils and food begins to loosen. Or, you can skip the dish soap and use baking soda instead.
Cleaning all remnants and traces of your meal is important. Nobody wants to wrestle with a grizzly at midnight. Keep your cooler and food in your car. Never bring it into your tent. If you don’t have an animal-proof garbage can nearby, keep all of your trash in bags in the car.
- Use block ice to keep food cold. Freeze water in gallon zip-lock bags if you can’t find block ice. After eating, let the ice melt, use the bags for storage and the water for cleaning pots and pans.
- Pack flatbreads like pita or tortillas instead of loaves to save space. Pre-cutting meats and veggies will also save space if you throw them in a zip-lock.
- Keep food and drinks in separate coolers to preserve your ice. The less you open your food cooler the longer the ice will last. Pack all food in watertight bags or containers when they’re in the cooler.
- If you bring frozen juice, use the cans as icepacks in your cooler. After you drink the juice, use the can to pour your bacon or sausage grease into. Never pour your grease on the ground. Animals can smell it a mile away.
Don’t find yourself SOL in the woods because you forgot the skillet. Stock your RV or tent with these essentials and you’ll be ready to feast in no time.
- Large skillet
Scrub brush for cleaning pots
Coffee percolator or French press and ground coffee beans
Extra zip-lock bags
One cooler for frozen food
One large cooler for beer and water
Plenty of trash bags
Dish rags and drying towels
- Medium and large pots or pans
- Cooking grate or grill
- Coals for fire or charcoal grill
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- More heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Lighter fluid
- One set of utensils, plate, and cup per person
- Grilling tongs
- Grilling spatula
1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
1 lb breakfast sausage
10 eggs or the equivelant amount of egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
5 ten-inch flour tortillas
Directions: Chop peppers at home and store in zip-lock bag. Lightly beat eggs in small bowl at home and store in gallon size zip-lock bag. Keeps eggs and peppers on ice until ready to cook. Heat oil in skillet or pot over campfire or camping stove. Cook sausage in pot or skillet until golden brown. Remove sausage from pan and wrap in foil to keep it hot. Scramble eggs and veggies together in the pan until fully cooked. Mix sausage in with eggs and veggies. Sprinkle in cheese while mixing. Remove from heat. Place mixture in a separate bowl and use pan to warm tortillas. About 30 seconds each. Scoop about ½ cup of egg and sausage mixture on to each tortilla. Fold sides of tortilla toward the middle and then roll up from bottom. Serve immediately. Makes 5 burritos.
Roasted Veggies and Potatoes
2 onions sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup olive oil
6 small potatoes, cubed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Directions: Slice veggies and cube potatoes at home and store in zip-lock bag over ice until ready to cook. Remove veggies and potatoes from bag and mix with olive oil in pot. Divide mixture into four parts and place in middle of four aluminum foil sheets. Place second foil sheet on top and roll up the edges tightly. Take additional foil and double wrap foil packets. Cook packets in hot coals of a campfire or grill until potatoes are tender. About 40 min. Use oven mitt to remove packets from coals. Let cool and then serve.
Beer Battered Fish Fillets
2 lbs fish fillets (cod, tilapia, trout)
1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
¾ cups beer
¼ cup cooking oil
½ tsp dry dill weed
Directions: Blend the pancake mix with the beer using a fork in a small bowl or pot. Whip the batter until smooth and the consistency of heavy cream. Pat the fillets dry with a napkin or paper towel and then dip into batter. Heat the oil in the skillet over a campfire or camping stove and fry the fillets until golden brown on each side. The meat should be moist and shiny on the inside. Serve with a sprinkle of dill and garnish with parsley and lemon slice.
2 Hershey’s chocolate bar or ½ cup chocolate chips
1 package mini marshmallows
1 carton vanilla ice cream
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Directions: Cut bananas down the middle and leave in peel. Stuff with chocolate and marshmallows. Wrap banana in aluminum foil and place in hot coals of campfire or grill for about 5-8 minutes. Rotate halfway through. Take out of coals. Let cool and serve with ice cream.