People are of two camps regarding what to bring along camping for cooking. There are the minimalists that bring one small metal cup that works as their bowl, fry pan, and drinking cup; a spork; and a pocket knife. Then there are the people that literally bring everything including the kitchen sink. I like to think that we are actually somewhere in between. We do bring a lot of stuff, but we want to have a good time camping. Modern convenience is part of why you tow that trailer around.
These are the items that we feel are necessary to take care of the basic cooking we do when camping. People eat a great variety of food and prepare it in many ways. What works for us might not work for you, but the important thing about the basics is that they have a well-thought reason to be included.
Spatula — pancakes, eggs, toast, hamburgers; these are just a few things that come to mind as items we cook on a griddle or grill that have to be flipped over and the spatula is perfect for this. We have two types in our trailer.
Tongs — brats, bacon, sausage, corn, asparagus; tending to these items and removing them from the heat is reason to bring along tongs.
Spoon — soup, sauces, jambalaya, peas; mixing and serving are made possible with a large spoon.
Paring Knife — vegetables, fruit; peeling, coring, slicing fruits and vegetables is a basic cooking skill that requires a good paring knife.
Chef’s Knife — steak, chopped vegetables and fruit, salad; a Chef’s Knife with a good edge can make easy work of the main prep tasks for a meal
Kitchen shears — the third of the chopping and cutting prep items.
Cutting boards — you need a clean backing surface for those knives. We have a separate board for meats.
Measuring spoons and cups — unless you are going to pre-measure everything before you pack, a set of measuring spoons and cups are a necessity when using recipes.
Mixing bowls — we found a great nesting set of bowls from Joseph Joseph that include bowls, a colander, a sieve, and measuring cups. It stores nicely in the microwave for travel.
Can opener — it would be very frustrating to plan meals using canned goods and get to camp without the opener.
Corkscrew — some might argue about this being a basic, but I might simply say why not include it in the basics. Not to mention it has a bottle opener on it.
Pour over coffee maker — we actually carry two of these. Once you start the coffee going, no one wants to wait to be second to get their coffee in the morning.
Teapot — can be used to make hot water for coffee, tea, or even washing dishes.
Skillet — we carry three. Two are cast iron to be put directly on the campfire. One in a small size, the other is very large and heavy. The third is non-stick and used on the camp stove.
Sauce pan — soup, pasta, rice; general purpose pan to use on the camp stove.
Mugs — soup, coffee, tea, cocoa; at least one for each person in your party.
Plates, bowls, and drinking glasses — use for both eating and serving food. At least one for each person plus a couple for serving. We use Corning Corelle dishes. They are lightweight, easy to clean, and hold up to bouncing around in the trailer. We do put a paper towel between each of them on the shelf to give a little padding.
Flatware — adds that layer of civilization to your meals. We carry a set that includes spoons, soup spoons, dinner forks, salad forks, table knives, and serving pieces. Yes, it is more than we need, but why break up the set?
Dish pans — We carry two (wash and rinse) and do our dish washing outside at the picnic table. When we are traveling, they store under the dinette seat and hold the table cloth, table clips, and mosquito candles that are used on the table. Since we do most of the cooking outside it makes sense to keep the mess outside.
Nice to Have
Once the basics are take care of, there are the items that are nice to have in your kitchen. The tasks that these items make easier can also be done with some of the basic items.
Knife sharpener — keeps that good edge on not only the cooking knives, but any pocket knife you might have along. If this is not packed, I would recommend using it on all the knives as part of the trip preparation.
Whisk — if you are making French toast, this is the item you need to make that dredge.
Grater — cheese, onions, potatoes; making grated cheese for that omelette sounds good right now. Our Oxo model folds to take up less space in the cupboard.
Basting brush — BBQ anyone?
Plastic scraper — use to start the cleanup of that cast iron skillet or Dutch oven without losing the seasoning.
Griddle — eggs, pancakes, bacon; a griddle provides a heating surface to make many staples of a camping trip. Ours is a Coleman Grillin’ Griddle. Don’t forget to pack the 1-pound propane tank.
Camp Stove — the backbone of camp cooking. The Coleman 2-burner stove is iconic because it works so well.
Ove Glove — these heat resistant gloves are great for grabbing that cast iron pan from the fire
Dutch Oven — a good cast iron Dutch Oven can be used to prepare many recipes from Jambalaya to cakes.
Wine glasses – after all, you wouldn’t want to be caught drinking from the bottle. We have plastic ones to prevent breakage. We even have a couple of them that look like drinking glasses from a distance.
These items are not necessary to have along, but they can make things so much easier.
Garlic press — yes this is a one-use item, but if you have the space, minced garlic is a nice addition to many recipes we make.
Pizza Cutter — It just seems wrong to use a knife to cut that pizza that you labored over a campfire to create.
Microplane — use this with zest to prepare many items from that produce aisle at the supermarket.
Chain Mail Cleaner — this works like a flexible scouring pad to loosen anything you managed to get stuck to your cast iron pans.
Microwave oven — the trailer came with one. We would not add one to a trailer that did not have it already. It stores our mixing bowl set.
Electric tea kettle — plug it in and very quickly you have hot water for that morning coffee.
Grill — steak, brats, asparagus; a portable grill allows you to take your home outdoor cooking on the road with you. The stand on ours is detachable to allow us to put it on a table.
Tripod — being able to hang the Dutch Oven over the flame helps to control the temperature to perfect the meal.