10 Tips to Better Outdoor Cooking

Make sure to start foods with longer cooking times, like these potatoes, first

Make sure to start foods with longer cooking times, like these potatoes, first

Whether you and the family are spending a weekend at the beach or a week in the mountains, the meals that you prepare can make or break your trip. Camping is all about rest, relaxation, and spending time with your family. It’s not about slaving over a campfire and spending a lot of time preparing meals. Here are 10 tips to keep your meal prep and cleanup to a minimum, while still ensuring that your tasty delights will be the hit of the trip.

Sizzling fire

Campfire cooking needs to be done over hot coals, so allow enough time for the flames to burn down before you throw those burgers on the grill.

Prepare at home

Outdoor cooking is great, but remember that you won’t have your kitchen counters in the woods. Prepare of much of your food at home as you can. Dice vegetables, premix spices, etc. and store in individual bags.

Reduce scrubbing

If you are cooking with a non-cast iron pot over an open fire, wrap the bottom and sides of the pot in tinfoil, or coat with liquid soap, to make cleanup a breeze.

Cook in foil

Foil meals (see Reynolds packet meal recipes for examples) are easy to prepare, easy to cook, and there is almost no cleanup. Cooking times will vary, so check one meal after 15 to 20 minutes, before removing all of the meals from the fire.

Clean the grill

If you forget the cleaning brush for your barbecue grill, wad-up a ball of aluminum foil (you remembered the aluminum foil, right?) and scrub the grate with that. It will be a lot easier to clean if you do this while it’s still warm.

No-stick marshmallows

Tired of all the marshmallows getting stuck together? Add some powdered sugar to the bag, before you hit the road.

Start with frozen foods

Freeze meats, and even stews, before putting into the ice chest. The frozen food will help make the ice last longer.

Save money

Make individual hamburger patties and freeze with wax paper in between the patties. Making your own is a lot cheaper than buying pre-made patties and you will be cooking a lot faster with patties, because you do not have to wait on a big clump of hamburger to thaw.

Creative deserts

There’s more to camp deserts than marshmallow s’mores. Baked apples are easy to make, by wrapping in foil and placing on hot coals. For an added treat, core the apple halfway through. Press several caramels into the center and plug the hole with the top of the core. Cooking time is similar to baked potatoes: about 30 minutes.

Finger food

Corn on the cob doesn’t take up space in the ice chest and it is easy to prepare. Cook directly on the grill, or butter and wrap in aluminum foil and place on coals for about 20 minutes.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you’ve got a camp cooking tip (or two!) to share with us, please leave a comment.

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