6 Outdoor Cooking Tips for Beginner Campers (this will make things so much easier)
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclaimer here.
Cooking outdoors is one of my favorite parts of camping! But it wasn’t always like that. Cooking while camping seemed a little overwhelming at first. It felt like too much work… but not anymore! In this post, I’m going to share my top outdoor cooking tips so that you can cook at camp without the stress and overwhelm. Sound good? Let’s dive in!
Prefer to watch? Check out my YouTube video below!
Outdoor Cooking Tips for Campers
1) Plan Out Your Meals
This simple tip makes a huge difference.
I used to think about what I would make at camp, and (try to) keep it together in my head while I was packing, secretly hoping that I remembered everything and had enough food.
Now, I actually write it down.
The act of writing it down is so helpful. You can see very clearly how many dinners you need and what you’re planning to eat each day.
This does not need to be an elaborate plan unless you want it to be.
Use my Camp Meal Planner:
In my free Camp Cooking Starter Kit (you can download it below) I even have a camping meal planner.
That camp meal planner is what I use to write down my meals. I also use it as a shopping list and packing list.
With this planner, packing is easier and less stressful too. Download it below:
get my free
Camp Cooking Starter Kit
Printable camping recipes, a gear checklist, and a camping meal planner so you can go camping with confidence and good food!
Prep Veggies and Ingredients Ahead of Time:
Once you know what you want to cook at camp, you might be able to prep some parts of the meal at home to make things much easier at camp.
For example, in the video above I made quesadillas. I wanted to put some peppers and onions in the quesadillas, so I diced the veggies at home and stored them in a Stasher bag in the cooler.
At camp, that’s one less step I had to do.
Another example is my Grilled Steak Fajitas recipe. For this camping dinner, I mix the marinade and the steak at home and store them in the cooler on ice.
At camp, all I need to do is put the steak right on the grill. No mixing marinades. No handling of raw meat. Easy!
Lastly, if you’re going to use camping recipes, I always recommend that you read the recipe fully at home first.
Again, this will make things easier at camp because you’ll know what to expect.
2) Keep Your Meals Simple
Simple does not mean boring! There are two main ways that you can cook at camp – a campfire or a camp stove.
Simple Camp Stove Meals:
In general, cooking with a camp stove is the easiest, and a great place to start.
I also suggest that you cook one-pot or one-pan meals. Luckily, I have tons of easy one-pan camp stove meals for you to try!
Here are some ideas:
- Quesadillas – try my breakfast quesadillas or my steak and pepper quesadillas!
- Pancakes – try my strawberry coconut pancakes
- One-pot sausage jambalaya
- Grilled cheese
- Camp tacos
- Mac & Cheese
Simple Campfire Meals:
Cooking with a campfire is a little more involved because, not only are you cooking, but you’re also maintaining the fire. This can be a lot of fun!
If you’re just starting out, start with something simple like grilling or foil packet meals. You’ll need some campfire cooking gear, but if you start with these simple meals below, you won’t need much.
Here are some ideas:
- hamburgers and hot dogs
- chicken sausage kabobs with veggies
- grilled steak and couscous
- southwest chicken foil packets
All of these meals are delicious, easy, and fun to cook on the campfire!
3) Get organized
Organization can make or break your camp cooking.
It’s the difference between being frazzled and stressed while you cook, or relaxed and sipping a cocktail on the side!
There are a few things to consider when organizing.
Organizing Your Food and Camp Kitchen Gear:
First, keeping your food and gear organized is important.
This ensures that you always know where to find things and that your food isn’t scattered all over the place. I organize my food and camp kitchen gear into clean bins that are sturdy and clipped shut.
>> You can learn more about my camping organization here!
Before You Start Cooking:
As I mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to read recipes fully before you begin. Then, get all your ingredients, tools, and supplies ready before you begin cooking.
This is especially important as you start cooking around the campfire.
You don’t want to be scrambling about camp running back and forth for different ingredients and tools. Have everything organized and ready before you begin.
If you’re at a campground with a nice picnic table, utilize that space to stay organized.
Lastly, when you’re cooking around the campfire, take a moment to clear any big rocks or sticks that you could potentially trip over, and have some water nearby in case you need to put the fire out quickly.
4) Cook Meals You’re Already Familiar With
This is another simple outdoor cooking tip! When you’re just getting into camp cooking, start with simple meals that you’ve made before, or do a trial run at home.
If you’re planning to make a meal with your camp stove, chances are, you can cook that same meal at home on your stove.
For example, this one-pot sausage jambalaya makes a delicious dinner at home too!
If you make it at home first, you’ll know what to expect at camp and cooking will be easier and less stressful.
5) Keep your Workspace Clean
No one wants to get food poisoning, especially while camping, so it’s important to be mindful of your cooking space and make sure you keep your hands and supplies clean.
What will be available at your campsite? Some campgrounds have running water and it’s really easy to clean your hands and dishes.
On the other hand, if you’re dispersed camping, you likely won’t have those amenities.
This brings us back to the planning at home tip above. The resources available at camp might help you decide what meals you want to cook.
Further Reading >> How I Wash my Dishes at Camp
6) Be Patient
My last tip is to simply be patient.
It can take some time to get comfortable cooking at camp and developing your own systems and organization that flows nicely. You need some experience.
Campfire cooking in particular is more of an art. You’ll get a sense of how to cook with fire and manipulate the heat the more you do it. Hopefully, these tips get you there faster!
More Outdoor Cooking Resources:
- My Camp Kitchen Gear
- 6 Mistakes New Campers Make (and how to avoid them!)
- 11 Easy Camping Breakfast Ideas
If you have any questions or additional tips you’d like to share, please comment below!