Great Tips And Tricks For Building Your Camping Kitchen During Your Next Trip
The great Australian outdoors is calling you, and you’re ready to begin your adventure. Thinking about how to assemble a camping kitchen? Although roasting marshmallows over a bonfire is one of the ultimate camping experiences, you’re not just relegated to cooking over an open flame and eating smoke-flavored food!
Just as hiking sticks and comfortable, sturdy shoes are necessary for hiking, so is your camping kitchen gear. In fact, with the proper gear, you can comfortably prepare food as if you were in your own kitchen. Read on to learn some tips and tricks on how to build your own camping kitchen!
1. Getting Organised
Organization is one of the most important tenets of camping kitchens. Although it seems like a lot of work upfront, you’ll be saving yourself from a lot of stress later on.
Since you don’t have cabinets, drawers, and shelves, you need to come up with a system that helps you account for all your gear and avoid forgetting things at home. You also want to avoid your kitchen tools and utensils resting on dirty surfaces.
Here are some ideas to keep things organized:
- Transparent plastic bins – Not only can you see inside and keep track of what tools are where, but they also stack comfortably in the back of cars.
- Reusable bags – This is another option if you don’t have room for plastic bins. One idea is to organize each bag by meal.
- Portable cutlery organizers – It can be hard to keep track of your dinnerware; these organizers give you a place for everything.
- Foldable table – You may not have a picnic bench near your campsite, and cooking on a clean, flat surface is considerably easier than hunched on the ground.
- Portable camp kitchens – These are a step up from foldable tables. They have dedicated spaces for your cooking supplies and utensils, though they can be considerably more expensive than a simple table.
- Plastic egg holder – These are a must-have if you’re planning on bringing eggs along on your trip. Eggs can easily jostle and break in their regular cartons.
2. Camp Sink
Besides cooking, keeping your dishes clean can be a hassle. Even if you don’t have access to running water, you still have options.
Here are the items you need to set up a camping dishwashing station:
- Three sinks – These can be collapsible sinks, plastic bins, or regular buckets. All that matters is that they can hold water and your dishes fit inside.
- Sponge – You need an abrasive surface to help scrub off food particles on your dishes.
- Biodegradable soap – Dish detergent is harsh on the environment. Make sure to keep the soap at least 200 feet away from any natural water source, and you’ll be doing the environment a favor.
- Sanitiser – An alternative to bleach is Steramine. It’s gentle on your skin and more effective than bleach against viruses.
- Metal strainer – This removes solid food particles from your gray water.
- Chamois cloth – Chamois is a great material because it’s super absorbent, making dish drying faster. You don’t want to leave the dishes out and wet because they can easily accumulate dirt.
Once you have all these items together, washing dishes will be a breeze. To make things easier on yourself, make sure everyone is given proportions of food they’ll actually finish!
After you clean off as much food residue from your plates as possible, warm up some water and fill up your sinks. The next steps are simple:
- Wash sink – Mix a few drops of your biodegradable soap into this sink. Starting with the cleanest dishes, scrub them until they’re entirely clean.
- Rinse sink – You’ll dunk your plates into the plain warm water here till all the soap suds are gone.
- Sanitize sink – Mix your sanitizing agent into the water here. You’ll use either two teaspoons of bleach or one Steramine tablet per gallon of water. This ensures that your dishes are completely disinfected, especially if they’ve been in contact with raw meat.
- Towel dry and dispose of – Towel dries all your dishes, then consolidate your gray water into one sink. Strain out the food scraps with your metal strainer, and dispose of the gray water at your campground’s facilities. If your campground doesn’t have any drain water basins, broadcast or spray the water out over a large area, so that it absorbs into the soil quickly and reduces the environmental impact on the area.
4. Cookware, Tools, and Accessories
Now that you know how to clean your dishes, what will you be cooking with? Many of the most useful pieces of cookware are made from cast iron, as they can be used over a stove or an open fire. Cast iron also has great heat retention so that your meals stay warm after they leave the stove or fire.
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven – This is one of the most versatile pieces of camp cookware. Its short legs and rimmed lid allow you to place coals above and below for even heat distribution, allowing you to prepare anything from stews to braised chicken.
- Cast Iron Skillet – This pairs well with your cast iron Dutch oven. It can toast, sear, and bake.
- Cast Iron Griddle – This gives you more space if you’re cooking for large groups.
Purchasing dedicated camp utensils and storing them in one place is far easier than hunting around your kitchen for all the different pieces. These include:
- Can Opener
- Wooden Spoon
- Metal Skewers
- Collapsible Measuring Cups
- Heat Resistant Gloves
- Beer/Wine Bottle Opener
5. Tableware and Drinkware
Ceramic plates are too fragile, while plastic utensils are wasteful and in the long run not as cost-effective if you camp often. For plates, bowls, and silverware go with enamel, a far more durable material than ceramic.
Your drinkware depends on what you’re planning to drink! If you like coffee or tea in the morning then some insulated mugs or tumblers will keep your drink the same temperature. There are shatterproof wine glasses if you’d like a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire, and Nalgene bottles are perfect for water and juice.
Knives deserve their own section because a good set of knives will save you a lot of frustration, and are also important for your safety. For instance, you don’t want to chop an onion with a pocket knife, and dull knives make you more prone to slipping and cutting yourself.
If you only have a budget for one knife, invest in a good chef’s knife. This is because they’re multipurpose and can do everything from peeling an apple to chopping raw meat.
Knife sets can be an inexpensive option if you want more versatility in your camp kitchen. Opt for knives that come with their own protective sheathes, so they don’t get dulled or hurt anyone while they’re being transported.
7. Camp Stoves
Camp stoves are necessary if you want to have easy cooking experience in the outdoors! There are many different kinds of camp stoves available, and what you choose depends on the kind of mobility you need.
Since you and your camping buddies or family will be at a campsite, a standard propane campground stove is perfect for your needs. These are durable, reliable stoves, and many of them come with two burners or even a grill.
If you’re worried about space in your car, there are also semi-portable campground stoves available. While they work just as well, they lack some of the features of standard-sized stoves.
Here are some tips that are learned from experience:
- Plan your meals – It’s easier to plan your meals and store the correct amount of ingredients rather than pack too much or too little.
- Bring aluminum foil – Aluminum foil is a must-have. You can wrap food within it to cook over an open fire, cover your plates to avoid dirt and bugs, or simply to keep your food warm.
- Test your camp stove – You don’t want to arrive at your campsite with no way to cook your food!
- Chop meat and vegetables before you leave – It’s far easier to prep in your kitchen rather than the campsite.
The Best Camping Kitchen
As you can see, investing in a few pieces of equipment can make your cooking experience a pleasurable one. Without organization, simple storage solutions, an efficient way to clean your dishes, and the proper equipment, you’ll be spending more time trying to get your camping kitchen together and less time enjoying the great outdoors!
If you’re planning on camping often, putting together your camping kitchen kit will save you a lot of time in the future.
Want to read more informative articles on the best gear for camping? Check out our camping and hiking gear guides!