Cooking Out While Camping Out

Halfmoon Creek, Colorado

What are your favorite foods when you're camping? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the summer season gets under way and the temperature continues to climb, families are looking for ways to have fun and beat the heat without busting their budget.  It may be the perfect time to plan a camping trip to some of the beautiful parks and valleys to the north where the hot days are not quite as hot and the natural beauty of Arizona is all around.  If getting out of town isn’t an option, you can also camp out closer to home or even in your backyard.  The key is to get out of the house and away from your every day routine while creating a connection with nature.

Half the fun of camping is cooking around the campsite.  While this can be challenging, it can also be fun for everyone in the family.  Don’t think you don’t have to settle for second rate food just because you are away from the kitchen.  With a little creativity and enough planning, you can have a fun trip filled with family memories and fantastic food.

Here are some tips for feeding your family while camping out.

1.     Bring Enough Food

There is something about being outside that makes everyone hungrier than normal.  When you are hiking, gathering firewood, or fishing, you are burning more calories than you would sitting at your desk or spending the day in school.  These two things together mean you may need more food than you think you will.  Depending on where you are headed, you may not have easy access to a grocery store and you don’t want to end up having to shop for more food at an expensive convenience store.

2.     Think Quick and Easy

You can make great food over a campfire but don’t make the mistake of treating your campsite like a kitchen.  Meals that require many ingredients, take more than one pan to cook, or need specific cooking temperatures aren’t likely to be a great fit for your camping trip.  Pick one pot meals, things that can be cooked on a stick, and things you can make or prep ahead of time.

3.     Get the Right Gear

One thing that may make or break your campfire cookout is your gear.  As part of your plan, think through how you will prep, cook, serve, and cleanup after each meal.  This will help make sure you have all the food you need and any gear or gadgets you need to make each meal.4.     Store Food Safely

It won’t matter if you have enough food if it spoils before you use it.  One of the most important and challenging things about camp side cooking is safe food storage.  Part of your planning should include how you will manage your perishable food stores including where you will get ice.  Start the trip by filling your coolers with block ice rather than cubed ice because it will last longer and consider freezing meat you will use later in the trip.

5.     Listen to Smokey the Bear

Don’t forget about the danger fires pose this time of year.  Check with the US Forestry Service to check fire conditions before deciding where to camp. Arizona has already seen far more acres burned this year than we’d like, so as always, be careful in how you build your fire and always make sure it is fully extinguished before going to bed or leaving the campsite.

And, as always, make this summer memorable without spending a ton of money by taking the family camping.  When you do, don’t forget the s’mores!

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