5 Tips For Creating The Ultimate Camping Kitchen

Good food = happy campers.

By: Matthew Eaton
May 4, 2016

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Anyone who loves to cook knows the importance of a good kitchen and inevitably has drawers and cabinets full of the perfect gadgets for zesting lemons, slicing avocado, peeling, scooping, coring and chopping. While you likely don’t need a second set of all of these tools for your camp kitchen, cooking outdoors doesn’t mean you have to struggle. So, whether you are new to camping and setting up your camp kitchen for the first time, or getting ready for another summer full of adventures and getting your gear prepped, here are some helpful tips to get you ready for tasty camp meals!

Photo: Matthew Eaton

1. Organization is Key

Friday afternoons in the summer have me longing for the outdoors and when I get out of work, I don’t want to spend hours gathering everything together, so my camp kitchen has evolved into a quick and easy grab-and-go tote that is big enough to hold everything I need and is easy to pack anywhere (or strap on top of the jeep). I use the following to keep my kitchen organized and ready to go:

  • Action Packer is where it’s at for a camp kitchen as it is super durable and the perfect size.
  • The biggest key to camp-kitchen success is having great utensil storage. I have an old Jansport accessory bag which is perfect. GSI makes a great one now that even comes with utensils.
  • Nalgene makes bottles all the way down to 1oz or less in size which are perfect for your secret ingredients!

Photo: Matthew Eaton

2. Ready for Anything

My crew doesn’t usually plan our car-camping adventures in advance, so it’s likely that the menu was created in a small town grocery store near camp. While I do have several go-to recipes, I want my kitchen to be ready for anything so I do not have to buy the basics over and over.

3. Spices I always keep ready:

  • Seasoned Salt
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • Lime
  • Cumin
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Olive Oil Spray

Photo: Matthew Eaton

4. Other Kitchen Essentials

  • Dr. Bronners Soap
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Rope (never know when you’ll need to hang a food bag or trash)
  • Camp Mug
  • Leather Gloves
  • Koozie
  • Flatware and Dinnerware for myself and friends
  • Stove, Fuel, Pots/Pans, Utensil set and mini cutting board
  • Foil
  • Trashbag (I typically use grocery bags from my trip to the store which keeps trash easy to manage).

Photo: Matthew Eaton

5. Additional food for thought:

  • Condiment packets (mayo, mustard, ketchup, cholula) which are handy so you don’t to take up space in your cooler for larger bottles.
  • Peanut Butter and Nutella are always great snacks.
  • I carry Via, Instant Coffee from Starbucks which is an easy way to not deal with brewing coffee (of course there are many other ways to have your cup of joe, too).

Of course if you just want to throw a hot dog on a coat hanger and roast it on the fire, that’s always an option. But, if you get tired of hot dogs and want to put more time and thought into your meals, now you’re ready to roll. If you want to expand, there are great collapsible tables, sinks, dutch ovens, coolers and basically anything you want, but at least now you can be confident that the basics are ready to go. Don’t forget to take all of your dishes out when you get home for a good wash and repack so you are ready to hit the road next weekend! If you’re feeling adventurous, check out my Top 5 Foil Packet Recipes!

Happy Cooking!

Photo: Matthew Eaton

Cover photo: Matthew Eaton

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.