Building campfires and getting the barbecue going are lots of fun, but we’d like a bit of relaxation too – just sitting back with a glass in hand and a chance to look at the stars.
So, we’ve compiled some of our favourite camp cooking tricks to help take the work out of outdoor cooking.
Everything in its place – for the born camping organiser
Measure out your ingredients
Organise the ingredients you need for each meal and pack in ziplock plastic bags or boxes. Choose reusable, BPA-free bags. And remember to label what’s in them!
How to carry and store your water
Spice packets at the ready
Use paper tea filter bags to make up spice or herb pouches. Either dunk them in your cooking like a bouquet garni or empty out the perfectly measured contents for your own instant flavouring.
Great for leftovers, for picnic lunches and for wrapping up food before it goes into a coolbox to keep it damp-free. There are some good reusable ones available now so you won’t be adding to the plastic waste mound. See above!
Smart essentials – quick tips for camp cooks
Aluminium foil has lots of uses when camping
Make a ball of foil to use as a scourer for your barbecue grill. Sharpen scissors by folding the foil a few times and then cutting it with the scissors. For cooking, you can wrap up food for baking on the edge of the campfire.
Foil bags are perfect for barbecues and campfires – much cleaner and easier all round.
Take your pressure cooker camping. It may look a big beast, but it uses less gas and can cook a meal very quickly. Plus it’ll double as a mixing bowl. Stow bits and pieces inside it when travelling.
I’d always choose a double, short-handled pot for camping because the sticky-out handle of the traditional Prestige ones is a bit of a pain to pack.
Have a look at our article on camp baking to find out how to use a pressure cooker for making bread and cakes! And nip over to the Instant Pot tip coming up…next.
Easy clean pans
Smear washing up liquid on the bottom of your pots and pans before you put them over the fire. You’ll find they clean up much more easily afterwards. Lots more woodburning campstoves in our special feature too.
Crack jokes not eggs
Instead of taking eggs in their box, crack them at home and put them into a wide-mouthed flask.
It’ll avoid egg mess and you can shake the bottle and pour straight into a hot pan for scrambled eggs. Don’t shake and, with a bit of skill, you can pour them out yolk by yolk for fried eggs. If that sounds frightening, go for a Lock & Lock egg box.
Too much salt?
If you add too much salt to a recipe, lots of old wives and husbands recommend adding a peeled potato to the dish for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking. The potato is supposed to absorb the excess salt.
Well, we gave it a scientific test and…it doesn’t! Methods that do work are diluting the soup or stew, making it creamy or serving it alongside something very unsalty.
Handleless pans are fantastic
When it’s time to change your home cooking pans, get the Tefal Ingenio ones. These are pans and frying pans with a handle that detaches. They have lids for when you’re cooking and plastic lids for storing.
Use them in the oven without the handle, mix in them, store in them. Very versatile and pack inside each other with no sticky-out bits for easy camp packing.
Wrap it up without plastic
Keep your sandwiches neat and eco-friendly by ditching the clingfilm. Opt for reusable sandwich wrappers instead. They’re great because they double as a tablecloth for your lap and can even hold your sandwich together while you munch.
We like the clingy beeswax wrap even more. So versatile – wrap up your loaf, cover your pots and pans, wrap your sandwich!
Beeswax wraps in lots of sizes and patterns, but better still get it on a roll so you can cut to the size you need.
The BocnRoll sandwich wrapper…nice idea.
Have a look at our 20 ways to make camping greener…give it a go!
Perfect burger cooking
To cook burgers more evenly throughout, put a hole in the middle of your burger about the size of your finger. The hole will disappear as it grills but the centre will be as cooked as the edges.
Instant Pot for electric cooking
If you have a campervan or caravan or room in the car plus electric hook-up, the Instant Pot is a great way to cook your meals quickly and economically. From stews in 15 minutes to perfect rice and even cakes and yoghurt.
Basically, it’s a clever electric pressure cooker that also slow cooks and steams. They’re quite big (5.7l) but not heavy. Around £80. Go for the 3-litre Mini Instant pot (£60) if there are two of you and you have a small campervan.
Keep an eye out for our special feature on camp cooking with an Instant Pot…coming soon. Meanwhile, here’s tonight’s Iranian stew with dried lime and dill. Yum.
Make yourself a neat camping box of herbs and spices and you’ll never have to rummage in your kitchen bag again. We all have our own essentials and favourites, so pick and mix to suit, but here’s what we always have:
- Curry powder
- Mixed herbs
- Chilli powder
- Chinese five spice
- Garam masala
- Whole spices – cardamom, star anise, cloves
- Smoked paprika
- Dried lime leaves
- Sesame seeds
We like aluminium tins best as these can be stacked neatly side-by-side in a box. Make sure the lids fit tightly to avoid spillages, We write the contents on ours with a chalk pen (so it can be washed off when contents change). Or go for ones with a window.