There are a million different reasons why people love to camp, be it connecting with nature, escaping the city buzz, sleeping outdoors, or sitting around a fire. One of my favorite things about camping is getting to enjoy some classic camping food: hotdogs, fresh caught trout, oatmeal, a cold beer and s’mores! For some reason, everything just tastes better in the great outdoors.
Now, I’m no whiz in the kitchen on a good day, so camp cooking with limited supplies can be a bit intimidating for me. Over the years, however, I’ve learned a few tricks that have gone a long way to enhancing my camp food experience.
Lesson 1: A cooler opens up a lot more options! Fill up a few milk jugs with water, freeze ’em over night and use in place of ice or cooler packs. This will keep your cooler colder for longer, and avoids the mess of melting ice.
Lesson 2: Make some food ahead of time. A quinoa or bean salad is good to have on hand—it keeps well (with dressing kept separate) and works for lunch or a supper side. Homemade cookies are always a big hit too. And for a quick and easy breakfast, bring along some muffins, banana bread or other loaf of choice.
Lesson 3: It’s important to remember the little things— a little bit of salt & pepper and other favorite spices (like cinnamon for your oatmeal in the a.m.) and butter and/or a small container of olive oil can go a long way for flavour, as well as ensuring you don’t scorch your camping pots to the point of no return.
Lesson 4: To make the chore of dishes a little less painful, bring along some camp suds, a designated dish drying towel and a little sponge. A small wash basin is great too; it can double as cold storage for your beer—just fill with cold water and add that six-pack until the dishes need doing.
Lesson 5: If you’re planning to cook on the campfire, don’t forget the firewood, a lighter/matches, some paper to help get the fire started, and a small hatchet that you can use to chop up kindling with. Also, avoid using any dead-fall for your campfire i.e. any logs or twigs that you may find in and around your camp site. This can result in a pretty hefty fine, banishment from the camp site, and even confiscation of your camping gear! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Lesson 6: If there is any chance of rain, bring along a meal that you can cook up without having to rely on your camp stove or a fire. There’s nothing worse than struggling to get a fire going or keep a camp stove lit when its pouring rain and you’re hungry.
The only other advice I can offer is to have fun, get creative and make sure that you don’t leave any leftovers out for your furry friends at the campground!
What’s your favorite thing about camping? Got a favorite spot? Send your thoughts to @regionmag or leave a comment below.