Camping Cooking Tips That Every Outdoor Enthusiast In Ohio Should Know

Gather ‘round the fire and whip up some tasty camping cuisine with these tips

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Sarah Stager


Jan 21, 2021

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Ohio is well-known for its natural beauty, and what better way is there to appreciate Ohio’s nature than by spending a few days in the great outdoors? Camping is a lot of fun, but it can also present a challenge. You have to survive outside with only the equipment that you can carry on your back — if you’re doing the more hardcore version of camping, that is. Whether you’re hiking to your camp with all your belongings on your back, or just chilling in your camper, part of the fun of camping is the challenge of cooking without a kitchen. But, luckily for you, there are some surefire ways you can make your food taste delicious, even with just a campfire and a few tools.

Plan Ahead

The Secret Of Any Successful Camp Cook

Make sure you know what you’re cooking, and when.

The rule in camping is generally to carry as little as possible, so you don’t want to carry a bunch of food that you don’t need. Plus, if you measure out the exact quantities for each recipe, it’ll save you loads of time when it comes to actually cooking the meal. Vacuum-sealing is a great way to keep your ingredients safe, as well as making them as compact as possible. If you don’t already have a vacuum sealer, though, zip-lock bags work well, too.

Prep Your Ingredients Beforehand

Save Yourself The Mess

Slicing your ingredients beforehand is both easier and faster.

In addition to planning your meals, you should also do a little ingredient prep beforehand so that all you have to do when you get to the campsite is cook up all your pre-prepared ingredients. This can prevent the inconvenience of bringing a cutting board and kitchen knife along, as well as keeping the mess to a minimum. Overall, just a little work beforehand will make your camping trip that much more enjoyable.

Cook On Coals

Don’t Be Fooled By Fire’s Tempting Aesthetic

Cooking over a blazing fire may present a nice image, but in reality, coals make for a much better camping cooking experience.

Glowing coals are not nearly as unpredictable as a fully-fledged flame, and present a much more even heat source that makes it easier to avoid charring your food. Flames can also leave a coating of creosote on your cooking utensils, which can be difficult to clean off. You may also want to consider bringing a camping stove, especially if you have multiple components that need to be cooked separately for different meals. Many stoves fold up so that they’re easy to carry, and they can be used in wet conditions in which it may be impossible to start a fire. If you decide to go with a stove, just make sure that it works before you leave on your camping trip.

Aluminum Foil Is A Must

Foil May Be One Of The Most Useful Tools For Camping Cooking

Aluminum foil distributes the warmth from your heat source more evenly across your food.

You don’t have to bring along a heavy pan or pot to cook in the wild — just pack some aluminum foil! It’s lightweight, and has many uses around the campsite, from providing a method of cooking to preserving dishes that you’ve already cooked. Wrap up some fish, a potato, or basically any root vegetable, and you’ll have a tasty meal in no time. You can also use heavy duty aluminum bags as a convenient way to cook meat and vegetables together.

Pack Liquids In Squeeze Bottles

Prevent Your Liquid Ingredients From Spilling

You don’t need to have a full kitchen at your disposal to make delicious pancakes — just store the batter in a squeeze bottle, and you can make them easily at your campsite.

Olive oil, dressings, eggs, condiments — any liquid you might use in your camping cooking is best stored in a squeeze bottle. Not only will this keep your liquids securely sealed, it also means one less utensil needs to be cleaned later. If you don’t want to purchase squeeze bottles just for one camping trip, you can also use any disposable water bottles you might have lying around.

Use Dish Soap Wisely

Dish Soap Can Contribute To An Easy Clean-up

Washing dishes can be a challenge without running water, so use this helpful hack to keep your dishes cleaner in the first place.

Useful tip: coat the outside of your cookware, whether it be pots, pans, or other containers, with a thin layer dish soap before using them to cook. This makes it much easier to clean these items later because any food or grease that has gotten on the outside of the pan will simply fall away without any scrubbing. No soap on the surfaces that will touch the food you’ll be eating — that would be gross.

Prep Early For Cleaning

Clean-up Is Half The Battle When Cooking At A Campsite

As anyone who has ever made spaghetti will know, water takes a relatively long time to heat up, so plan ahead.

After you finish cooking, start heating up a pot with your cleaning water so that this will be hot by the time you finish eating. It’s a very simple hack, but one that will save you so much time when cleaning up. Just add environmentally safe dish soap to this pan of hot water, and you’ll be able to use it as a basin in which to wash your dishes. Be careful not to burn yourself, though — your water should be hot, not boiling. Also, follow your camp’s regulations when dumping your dish water. You don’t want your water to contaminate any safe drinking water.

Keep Food Locked Up

You Don’t Want Any Hungry Visitors At Your Campsite

Make sure that your food is always in a secure location, especially if you’re temporarily leaving the campsite.

Most camps have safe boxes for food, but even if your camp doesn’t, make sure that your food is somehow locked away. You could leave it in your vehicle, or store it away high in a tree. Many campsites are in the territory of bears, coyotes, or even just squirrels that would be more than happy to share your meal. Since you don’t want any of these visitors, don’t give them any reason to come to your campsite in the first place.

Keep It Simple

Camping Cooking Doesn’t Have To Be A Brain-Teaser

Pasta is always a great, low-effort camping meal to pull out on one of your last days.

Because you have to do so much planning and prepping for your campsite meals, it’s better just to keep them on the simple side in the first place. This is not to say that you can’t make fancy cuisine while camping — you can cook almost anything you can in a regular kitchen — and if you want to go all out, be my guest. However, cooking isn’t the centerpiece of camping for most campers, so it may be better to rely on simpler meals so that you can get more out of your camping experience.

Kebabs are easy to make over coals, and most of the prep work can be completed at home before the trip. All the chopping, marinating, and seasoning can be finished ahead of time, then all you’ll have to do is slide those babies on the skewers and cook them up. Yum! If you’re willing to lug along a dutch oven, you can also make jambalaya. Or you could just stick with a camping classic: baked potatoes. To up the ante on your potatoes, slice them part of the way through, then stick a slice of onion inside before baking. Pack some herbs in there, throw it in the fire, and you’ll have a scrumptious baked potato with no mess and hardly any effort.

Freeze Meat And Water Bottles

Keep Your Perishables Cool

If you don’t want to take along raw meat, jerky makes for a good source of protein and a yummy hiking snack.

Because you have to be very precise with your portioning and preparation, it would be a shame if any of your food happened to go bad during the trip. To stop this from happening, stick your perishables in a cooler with a few frozen water bottles. Ice is messy when it melts, but when frozen water bottles melt, you can easily take a cold, refreshing swig out of one of them before a long hike. Freezing at least a portion of your meat will also bring down the temperature of your cooler, as well as alleviating the stress of being forced to use all of your meat in the first day. Use any fresh meat for your first day, and save the frozen for the second day. After that, you might want to rely on meatless meals.

Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be able to explore Ohio’s great outdoors as a more confident cook. Camping doesn’t have to mean a few days filled completely with ramen, hot dogs, and granola bars. Even in the wild, you can treat yourself to “home”-cooked meals without too much trouble.

August 7, 2019
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