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7 Camp Cooking Tips for Beginners

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Cooking at home, with everything you need and a market around the corner, is a breeze, but when you’re camping, preparing a meal can be a little intimidating. No matter where you are, cooking should be fun. And here are seven cooking tips to make your time in the great outdoors a little tastier and enjoyable.

1. Get the right camping cooking supplies.

As with any task, having the right tools is not only smart, it’s essential. So while you’re planning your menu, don’t forget these essential camp cooking supplies, foremost among them pots, pans, plates, a spatula, tongs and utensils.

2. Have a camping cooking bin.

All those cooking supplies we just mentioned need to go somewhere, and a great place to put them is in a big plastic bin. It’s large enough to store non-perishable camping cooking supplies and it will keep them dry in case of rain.

3. Meal plan.

Newbie to the great outdoors or grizzled veteran, both will benefit from the preparation of a simple meal plan. Build your breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, and don’t forget about snacks. Then, use the menu to write out your shopping list and buy your groceries. If you have kids, have them help you so they’re part of the planning and even more excited to go camping.

4. Do as much prep work at home as possible.

If preparing food while camping stresses you out, do as much prep work as you can. Chop vegetables and put them in zip lock plastic bags. Pre-cook your meats and then freeze them. A good food to make ahead of time is breakfast burritos. Put the burritos together, wrap them in tin foil and freeze them. Then when you’re ready to leave, you can throw them in your cooler with ice and just cook them over the campfire the next morning.

5. Build the right fire.

Today’s camping cookware can make the chef’s job pretty easy. But one of the best parts of camping is enjoying a slightly burnt hot dog or s’mores cooked over the campfire. To build a campfire, there are three things you must do:

1.Prepare the site. Select a site that’s at least 8 feet from bushes and trees. Once you have a site, use large rocks or green logs to make a u-shaped perimeter and then place a bigger, flat rock standing up toward the back of the fire pit to be the chimney and guiding the smoke up and away from where you’re sitting.

2.Lay the kindling. Fill up your fire area with tinder or crumpled up paper. Lay the kindling down in layers, alternating each layer, using smaller dead branches.

3.Build the fire. Once the kindling is burning, add some firewood evenly over the fire. Once the flames die down and you’re left with mainly white coals, use a long stick to move the coals to a higher level toward the back and lower level in the front, giving you high, medium and low cooking settings.

6. Know how to properly extinguish a campfire.

As Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent forest fires”. When you’re done cooking, let the fire burn completely into ash, pour tons of water on the embers and keep water near the fire at all times. If you don’t have water, stir in dirt or sand with a shovel to bury and extinguish the fire.

7. Adhere to food safety rules.

Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you can neglect food safety rules. What you do at home, you still need to do to keep you and your food safe while camping. Wash your hands before and after cooking and eating, wash cookware before reusing, keep perishable foods cold and use a food thermometer to make sure your meat is cooked enough. According to the FDA, the safe temperatures for meats are 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, fish and pork; 160 degrees for beef and egg dishes and 165 degrees for chicken.

If you get the right equipment and come prepared, nobody will leave your next camp out hungry! 

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