The Beginners Guide to Camp Cooking

Beginners guide to camp cooking over campfire, stove or barbecue.

Camp cooking doesn't have to be difficult, keeping it simple can sometimes be the better option. After a long day of exploring the last thing you want to think about is preparing a 4 course meal!

In this post we look at what you may need to take with you, what you can pre-prepare and how you can get the most out of your camp cooking experience. We hope to make camp cooking something you look forward too.

Lets get started!

Plan your Meals

Firstly it is important to plan your meals before you go so you can be sure you have everything you need, before you set off. You can write this down, like a shopping list, ticking off the appliances, utensils and ingredients you will be using so you are not caught short whilst camping. Chances are, if you did forget something, you would have to leave where you are camping to go get what you missed. No one wants to do that!

Prepare Ingredients at Home

Now you know what you need, see if there is anything you can prepare whilst you are at home. This can speed up the cooking process significantly. For example peppers, onions and other veggies can be cut up and stored in a cooler. Meat can be seasoned / marinated at home too, so you can start cooking immediately.

This is can also make cleaning up after meals, super easy too!

Meal Prep for Camp Cooking

Keep your Meals Simple

As mentioned previously, you do not want to be preparing huge feasts after a long day. We recommened one pot/pan meals or something you can leave to cook away without you putting in much effort, whilst still tasting delicious. Here are a few meal ideas to get you thinking:

  • Burgers & Hotdogs
  • Chicken & Vegetable Skewers / Kabobs
  • Breakfast Quesadillas
  • Loaded Nachos
  • Grilled Steak & Couscous

For some delicious Braai / barbecue recipes, check out Crush Mag Online. They have some great recipes that can give you inspiration for your outdoor cooking

Chicken Kabob skewers with vegetables cooked over barbecue whilst camping.

Camp Stove, Barbecue or Campfire

Gas camp stoves are great if you are getting used to cooking outdoor, they are probably the easiest way to start. You can get single burner camp stoves, or even four burners! Cooking with camp stoves are as close to cooking at home that you will get, easily being able to control the heat levels directly on the stove.

Portable barbecues increasing the level of difficulty slightly as you will be cooking using wood or charcoal as opposed to gas. There are plenty of portable barbecues to choose from that are easy to setup, compact and make cooking simple whilst still feeling like you have more control. We recommend avoiding disposable barbecues, after all portable barbecues can be reused and are far better quality.

Campfire cooking is the most difficult of the three options. Whilst cooking your food you also have to consider maintaining the fire. This can make camp cooking fun, but it will involve you a lot more. We recommend if you are cooking by campfire, for the first few occasions, stick to simple meals so you have less to think about.

Also you need to consider for your campfire you will need a few extra tools and materials. For starters you will need your firewood, lighter and fire starters. You then need cooking equipment such as grill plates, cast iron pots etc. Always something to consider when choosing to cook over campfire.

Regardless of which method you choose to cook your meals, it's always great to start simple and stay organized with your ingredient options. Another tip is to cook meals you are used to doing at home so you know exactly what you will need.

Before you Start Cooking

Before you start cooking, it's a good idea to read the recipes completely. Then, gather all your ingredients, tools, and supplies. This is especially important when cooking over a campfire. Make sure you're not rushing around the campsite searching for things. It's better to have everything sorted and prepared in advance.

If you have a picnic table at the campground, use it to stay organized. Cooking over the campfire? Check the cooking area for any obstructions such as rocks or sticks that could get in your way whilst moving around the fire, and keep some water close by in case you need to extinguish the fire rapidly.

Final Checklist

Now you know what you are cooking, the ingredients you will need, the equipment you will use and how you will cook it. We recommend keeping your workspace and hands clean to prevent any illness that may ruin your trip. If you are on a campsite, running water is quiete common which is a great option. Lastly, remember to be patient with your cooking and more importantly ... have fun!


Group of people gathered round eating and having fun whilst camping.

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