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7 Need to Know Campsite Cooking Strategies - By Eric Stephenson

Are you sick and tired of not knowing what to bring or what to cook when you go camping? Do you either pack the entire kitchen (including the sink) or you bring the absolute minimum and then have to use a fork as a spatula or two spoons as tongs?

If that sounds even the slightest bit familiar then you are in the right place. Over the past decade or so I have refined a list of 7 things that I use every single time I prepare for my next camping trip.

These strategies are relevant whether you are car camping, primitive camping, RV camping, scout camping or large group camping. You can very easily apply them across any type of trip, which is what really makes them worthwhile.

So here they are:

1. Plan the Meals - Okay common sense right? Well If I didn't include this as the first and most important item I would get hollered at! But seriously, if you don't plan the meals ahead of time not only do you not know what you're going to eat you also have no idea what to pack as far as cooking gear is concerned. Do you need a spatula or tongs? Do you need a strainer or a frying pan?

2. Plan the Gear - This follows directly from number 1. Now that you know what you are going to eat for the trip you can now figure out exactly what utensils, pots, pans, containers and other miscellaneous cooking gear you need. And more importantly what gear you don't need! My family and I do a lot of tent camping which means that we take my wife's SUV, so we have a very limited amount of room that we must pack all of our "stuff" into. If I only need a 2 quart pot and a small frying pan well guess what, the 9 other pots and 4 other frying pans stay at home!

3. Plan the Condiments - Have you ever went camping and once you get there you realize that you don't have ketchup, mustard or relish for your nice, hot and juicy steakburger you just cooked for yourself? Have you ever went camping and it took you 10 minutes to find the garlic powder because it found it's own way to the bottom of the box you keep all your spices in? There is a fine line between having too many spices/condiments and not having enough but you have to walk that line. Even if you have a 40 foot Class A Mega Super Duper Motor home, you only have so much space. Sit down and look at the recipe's you are going to use and then figure out what spices/condiments you can bring and which ones to leave at home.

4. 10% Above - Get 10% more food then you think you should take. If your family usually eats 4 hamburgers, take 5 or 6. If they usually eat 6 pieces of Corn on the Cob take 8. I don't know for sure what it is but whenever you go camping everybody seems to be HUNGRY all the time. It might be because they are running around doing more stuff or it might be something in the air, I don't know.

5. KIS - Keep It Simple. Realize that you are going to be in the middle of the woods. Is it possible to cook a Rack of Lamb with Herb-Dijon Nut Crust, Parisienne Potatoes, Green Beans Wrapped In Carrot Ring and Pureed Sweet Potato Basket? Yes it is technically possible. Should you attempt it? Heck NO! Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to plan 3 square of milk and cereal. I am saying to remember where you are going to be and the mostly primitive cooking tools you will have at your disposal.

6. Test Runs- If you are planning on cooking on a campfire, or using a new grill, or cooking in your RV for the first time on your next trip.Don't Do It! Always, always, always do a test run at home before you get out there. Build a little fire in your backyard and figure out if you need some charcoal to bolster the wood fire and make it cook more evenly. Make sure you know how to hook up that new grill and where the hot spots are. It is really not a lot of fun to get out into the woods somewhere and burn your dinner to a crisp or have it sitting in the bottom of the campfire because of a "equipment malfunction". So always do a test run.

7. Try a new Treat - Remembering strategy number 6, my family always tries a new treat whenever we go camping. Whether it be a new recipe for our green bean casserole or a naughty little after dinner snack, we try something new every time. This doesn't have to mean something exotic that you're not sure the animals would even like. Just look around on the internet, there are a ton of campfire / Dutch oven recipes out there for you to try.

Well that's it, that's my list of 7 Need to Know Campsite Cooking Strategies. This is not a wish-list or a group of things I pulled out of thin air. I use this list each and every time I plan a trip for my family, my friends and my troop. This list if used properly will keep you in good stead for your trips. You won't run out of food, you won't eat bland food, you won't bring home a ton of unused and possibly spoiled food and most importantly dinner won't be a chore while camping.

About the author: Eric Stephenson is an avid camper and publisher of http://www.NJCampingInfo.com where you can get all the information you will ever need about camping in New Jersey as well as information about camping and the latest technologies and products related to camping. This article is copyrighted. It may be reproduced only if the hyperlinks here are left intact.

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Reader's Comments

dayna said :-
This sight will be very useful when I go camping next time.It has many things that I never would of thought of.
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Malcolm R Powell. said :-
I whole heartedly agree with Eric Stephenson with regard to planning your meals and the amount of cooking equipment taken when travelling, especially on a motorcycle where space is precious (and in my case almost all of the spare room seems to be taken up by my wifes hair products) the most important meal to plan is your first supper. My wife and I tend to look for quiet, off the beaten track places to stay (which invariably means few facilities within walking distance) and enjoy cooking our own food rather than buying ready meals or eating out. But when you've arrived late, soaking wet and just can't face putting your soggy riding gear back on after you've put up the tent or unpacked the panniers in your cosy little cottage to go and find the nearest supermarket and then spend an hour preparing whatever it is you've bought there's nothing better than knowing that within a few minutes of arriving at your chosen location a piping hot meal will be warming you from the inside out. To this end we almost always prepare a meal the day before we travel and freeze it, usually in some kind of tupperware container (other plastic boxes are available, advertising disclaimer done with) then on the morning of travel put it in a plastic bag, wrap a couple of towels around it for insulation and pop it in the tank bag or pannier. By the time you arrive at your destination your meal is either fully or partially thawed and only needs re-heating. The reason for taking frozen meals rather than just pre-prepared ones is that unlike travelling in a car there really is no room for a cool box and this was the only way I could think of keeping the food cool enough to help prevent bacteria forming whilst riding, especially in hot weather. Spaghetti bolognese sauce and curry work well with this method as you only have to carry a small amount of dried pasta or rice to compliment your dinner. The length of time the food stays frozen depends upon the amount of insulation and the ambient temperature, a little experementation at home should give you an idea but as an example a trip to the Lake district in May this year when unusually for England the sun was out and it was around 15 degrees celsius, our meal which was wrapped in a couple of towels and placed in the middle of the tank bag was still pretty well frozen after six hours. This also works for milk in a plastic bottle for your morning brew and should you wish to enhance your dining experience with an ice cold glass of Chardonnay frozen wine travels well too but for safety's sake freeze it in a plastic drinks bottle. Once you have devoured your meal it leaves room in your luggage to take home any little items you may have bought on your holiday, usually more hair products !!

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Ren said :-
Malcolm...you don't seem to go camping...curry...wine...tea and coffee, that's GLAMPING!

I do hope you have a very large bike. I don't normally have room spare for even a hairbrush let alone tupperware boxes and bottles of frozen wine.

Too many hair products you see...
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