by Summer Blessed
(Click here for Part 1)
I love to organize everything. It is a blessing and a curse. For camping, being organized is definitely a blessing to you and your family! I color code my camp items by category. Red tubs are bedding, Green tubs are tents, orange tubs are for the kitchen. I also color code our bath towels! Why you ask, would I be so detailed? It is so that all of us know where every item goes at a glance! Even if you can group things together by tote bags, you will be so happy once you are unloading! Communicate with everyone what bags or tubs contain what items. This way, everyone knows where to find their supplies!
Having some delicious meals for your camping trip really adds some extra fun for the whole family. Taking a few minutes to plan exactly what meals you will eat on what days helps simplify cooking. I like to bring along a variety of meals. Consider all the preparations and tools needed to cook and serve the meals. I create a shopping list of ingredients and a list of all the utensils I will need to cook at the camp site. This way, I have a blueprint for creating a well stocked camp kitchen. I prep each meal as much as possible in my home kitchen so that everything is easier at the camp site.
I like to pack the cooler in layers based on what foods will be needed on what days. The very bottom layer of the cooler contains the foods I will need on the last day of camping. The top layer of the cooler is filled with the items I will use on the first day of camping. I love to pack in frozen meals, such as beef stew. By cooking the stew at home, I eliminate preparations at the camp kitchen. This frees up time for fun with the family. At the camp, I place the frozen block of stew into my stew pot and heat it over an open fire. Viola! Homemade stew ready to eat in no time! I cook these pre-made meals early in the trip so that they don’t have time to thaw out. While frozen, they keep the other items cold in the cooler as well!
I like to place ALL foods into Ziploc bags. This gives them added protection and waterproofing when the ice starts to melt in the cooler. Lots of foods don’t do well if they get wet. This added step keeps everything sanitary as well.
Your camping kitchen will be much like your home kitchen. You will need napkins, plates, cookware and cooking utensils. You will need eating utensils as well.
For ease of clean up you can create Mess Kits for each member of the family with a plate, bowl, cup, fork knife and spoon. Metal camping dishes are preferred since serving heated food on plastic can leach toxins into your food. Use a mesh bag (citrus fruit bags work well) to store each persons kit. Once they have eaten, they can each wash their dishes, place them back in the mesh bag and hang it up to dry.
I stock my camping kitchen with spices, including salt and pepper and any sauces or condiments that we would normally eat with certain dishes. Creating your meal plan should include EVERY part of the meal, how it will be prepared, cooked and served. Any preparations that you can do ahead of time, the week before you leave will be a tremendous help. Although some meals are difficult to create while camping, it is possible to enjoy the comfort foods you know and love. This requires just a bit of planning ahead.
Here is an example meal.
HOT DOGS IN BUNS with CHIPS, FRUIT CUPS AND CARROTS WITH RANCH.
Cook chili at home, freeze in single meal servings for hot dogs.
Cut up carrots into sticks
Chop up fruit and place in small jars for individual servings
Make ranch dressing and place into bowl with lid
Group all items together for hotdog meal in cooler.
I always take a water hose with a spray nozzle on every camping trip.
It is priceless when cleaning the messes you will encounter.
I pack in a dish tub:
a large stock pot
several dish rags
drying rack and/or clothes line
biodegradable camp soap
The large stock pot is used to heat water for washing the dishes, pots and pans.
Be sure that you pack a tub for the food items that don’t need to be in a cooler. I use a plastic tub with a lid. This helps me keep organized and keeps wildlife away from food. Never leave food out while your camp is unattended. Also, make certain that all trash is picked up and food is placed back in the locked vehicle any time you sleeping or away from camp. You don’t want to wake up to the sound of your food being enjoyed by wild animals.
Double check your dry goods. Remember honey, coffee, sugar or anything you might consider an important part of your kitchen. Garlic, salt and pepper are basics, yet can make or break a dish. It’s so much nicer when your dry goods camp pantry is full of everything you might need in the great outdoors.
Remember also to keep your cooler iced down. Food items that need refrigeration can’t be neglected. They will spoil and could cause food poisoning. Be diligent in keeping the cooler full of ice at all times. Keep in mind the travel time to and from the store, the store hours and the park rules of exit and reentry. If you must leave the camp for supplies, keep in mind that traveling during daylight hours is the easiest way to go. Don’t wait until the last minute to go out for supplies. Think ahead. Plan ahead. Be diligent. Nothing causes more headaches than running out of key things while camping. Ice, firewood and food items make all the difference when you are camping!
Another consideration is how you will cook your food. There are several choices. A charcoal grill, an open wood fire, or a camping stove such as a Coleman. I like to use all three. Beware that some campsites may not have all these options. Check ahead of time to see if a fire ring or grill is present at the campsite. My favorite method is a charcoal fire with cast iron Dutch Oven. The Dutch Oven can be used for just about anything and it is very sturdy. Each method has different tools required. Make a list of what you need as you create the meal plan. Don’t forget hot mitts for your hands!
Once you decide on your cooking method of choice, you must decide how much fuel you will need for that type of cooking. Stock up on wood, charcoal or camp stove fuel accordingly. Make sure that your cast iron or other cookware will fit securely on the stove, open fire or grill. Consider your cooking utensils, methods and the needs based on each of these. Nothing ruins dinner like forgetting the charcoal for the grill or the firestarter.
Make sure to remember the ingredients for your favorite camp fire foods, such as s’mores. You and your kids will have a blast making memories by the fire. A little chocolate and graham crackers go a long way in sweetening the mood after a hard day of hiking or playing. Also, you might like to make popcorn in some coconut oil over the fire. It tastes better by the open fire, under the stars! Remember also to pack some dominoes, cards and a soccer ball. Bring the things that your kids love. Also, you might bring some things as a special treat such as hula hoops. Some favorites of my family are bubbles, glow sticks, sidewalk chalk, jacks, farkle and chess. We also bring paper and map pencils to draw with. Think about bringing a journal if you would like to document the trip or just sketch some of the outdoors. And, don’t leave home without your binoculars and camera.
MUST HAVE ITEMS:
- A FLEXIBLE, RESOURCEFUL ATTITUDE
- ANY PRESCRIPTIONS
- EXTRA EYE GLASSES OR CONTACTS
- ALLERGY MEDS/EPI PEN
- FEMININE PRODUCTS and/or DIAPERS
- BABY WIPES
- STRING LIGHTS, EXTENSION CORDS
- HATS AND SUNGLASSES
- RAIN GEAR
- YUMMY COMFORT FOODS
- HEATER/WARM CLOTHING
- STURDY AND COMFY SHOES
- TARPS WITH ROPE
- CLOTHES PINS AND CLOTHES LINE
- FIREWOOD and STARTERS
Still not sure camping is for you? Click here for alternatives to camping at the Radiant Living & Learning Retreat.