Easy Camp Kitchen Setup for Delicious Outdoor Cooking

Easy Camp Kitchen Setup

What comes to mind when you think of “camp cooking?” For many, it’s something like pouring boiling water into a store-bought pouch of freeze-dried food or cranking open a can of beans while skewering a few hot dogs over the fire. 

Neither is bad, of course, but putting a little effort in to level up your camp kitchen game can pay off deliciously.

But preparing food in the great outdoors can be a challenge, especially with limited bench space, equipment and ingredients.

But that doesn’t mean you are confined to cereal, sausages and tinned spaghetti.

The good news is, that preparing meals outdoors isn’t rocket science, and you don’t need a lot of camping experience either or an expensive and complicated camp kitchen setup – just one that works together.

In this article, I will show you the different components of a functional, compact, and easy-to-install camp kitchen.

With the right camp cooking equipment, whether you are an experienced or a beginner camper, you will certainly have plenty of easy, stress-free meal options, extremely rewarding and just plain delicious!

Do you want to make the most of your camping experience by treating mealtime as a highlight rather than a chore? Here are our tips for creating a top-notch camp kitchen setup, including what gear to stock, how to set up at camp, and tips for Easy Camp Kitchen Setup for Delicious Outdoor Cooking.

The key to a functional portable camp kitchen

At the end of the day, here are the four things you need to have for a successful camp kitchen:

  1. Kitchen Box List
  2. Camp Kitchen Essential
  3. Meal plan and recipes that can be easily prepared in the camp kitchen.
  4. The right ingredients either brought from home, or, in the case of bulky or perishable items, easily sourced on the road.

Kitchen Box List

Packing a kitchen box may seem tedious and unnecessary but it can save you a lot of time and space in the long term.

It will help keep everything organized and make packing and unpacking a breeze. Our list is a great starting point to make sure you pack all the necessities for your camping kitchen.

Kitchen Clean-Up

  • 3 Tubs (plastic or collapsible)
  • Biodegradable Soap
  • Sponge
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper Towels
  • Wet Wipes
  • Trash bags

Food Storage

  • Cooler
  • Cooler separator’s
  • Dry food storage
  • Ziplock baggies
  • Tupperware
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Silverware

Food Equipment/Prep

  • Camping stove(with fuel)
  • Cast Iron Pan
  • Pots and pans
  • Lighter
  • Oven mitt
  • Cutting board
  • Knifes
  • Measuring cups
  • Coffee making supplies
  • Wooden cooking spoons

With this list, you will have all the basic necessities for cooking, cleaning, and food storage. The rest of what may go into your kitchen box will vary from person to person and trip to trip. It may take multiple camping trips to narrow down exactly what you need depending on your preferences and needs.

Also Read: Will a queen mattress fit in a minivan?

To make your camping set up the best it can be we write down anything you realized you have forgotten during your trip. Once you get back from your trip you can now get and add whatever you may have forgotten during your last trip. It may take a few trips to get everything you want to use inside your kitchen box but after that, you will be organized and never have to worry about forgetting anything again.

It is also crucial to replenish things after your trips so you don’t run out of something necessary during your camping trip. I prefer to thoroughly look through my kitchen box after every trip or two and replace anything that you may have run out of or things that are getting low.

Portable Camp Kitchen Box Packing Tips

Keep most frequently used items towards the top of your box. This will make it easier when you are in a rush to set up and only need a few things.

Having separators or smaller tubs inside your box will keep you more organized. Being able to separate things so you know exactly where everything is in your box.

Finding the proper type of kitchen box is essential. There are many different types of bins/boxes that work great depending on your need. You can get a simple plastic tub or a designed camp kitchen box. Figuring out your price range and size of your kitchen box before purchasing will make sure you get exactly what you need.

Camp Kitchen Essential: 

image of Camp Kitchen Essential

1: Furniture

Kitchen space for food preparation and storage is one of the camp cooking essentials. Add to that other essential furniture items such as:

  • a folding dining table set, which also comes in handy as a picnic table,
  •  a camping chair each
  • 1-2 standard camping tables can also be used for bench space, picnics, card tables and the like

You can have a simple and cost effective kitchen like ours in the image above, you could buy an all-in-one bench style unit with a sink from a store, or you could go the custom made route if you have a trailer or some kind of RV.

The level of detail in the image might not all be necessary on short trips, or it might for some of you require more bench and storage space. But you can at least see that you don’t need a special purpose or custom built unit for your camp kitchen setup to be perfectly functional.

2: Camping Stove

Some camp stove models will come with a grill underneath the gas burners which comes in handy for all manner of things. 

Ensure also that the cooker is fitted with the necessary wind-breaks, without which the cooking time could be doubled.

Our go-to gas stove recommendation is the Colman Triton two burner stove . We love this product because while it runs on LP gas, it also can run on disposable butane cannisters as a backup at times when the LP gas unexpectedly runs out.

3: Campfire Cooking

Even though campfires are not always permitted, no outdoor kitchen would be complete without the necessary items for managing and cooking over one for those delicious hearty camping meals.

You will need:

  • Camp/dutch oven, either cast iron or the lighter weight spun steel
  • Heavy duty frying pan
  • Long handled shovel / spade to use to move the coals around
  • Lid lifter tool
  • Long tongs
  • Long handled fork and serving spoon
  • Wooden spoon for stirring (wood is kinder to the camp/dutch oven than metal)
  • Leather or heat resistant gloves

4: Refrigeration

Your refrigeration options for your cold foods are fairly broad from the fairly light weight esky’s to the higher cost and heavy compressor fridges.

Rather than buy an excessively large fridge, overflow food that would benefit from a cooler environment but that doesn’t need to be refrigerated could be stored in padded cooler bags.

For a complete run-down on your camp refrigeration options, check out our article on How to Choose the Best Camping Fridge.

5: Camp Kitchen Container

All of our cookware and tableware is neatly stored in one camp kitchen container in a plastic storage container.

Cookware: Outlined below are our cookware essentials:

  • Frying pan with lid
  • Kettle
  • Small milk pot
  • Flat toaster
  • Cake tin
  • 3-4 litre saucepan / pot
  • Silicon pot rest
  • 2 large stainless steele bowls
  • Chopping / cutting board
  • Strainer

Tableware: Also contained in our camp kitchen container is our tableware. When selecting tableware, durability is obviously important as is bringing along a few spares in case the dishes aren’t clean or you have a few extras for dinner.  

Also Read: How to Build A Campfire The Right Way

Most of the items below will be of a durable material, although personally we have glass cups which we use for wine and spirits.

  • Dinner plates
  • 2 small bowls     
  • Desert bowls
  • Coffee cups   
  • Wine glasses 
  • Stubby holders
  • Drink cups
  • Side plates    

6: Cutlery

  • Knives
  • Forks
  • Dessert spoons
  • 3 teaspoons

7: Cooking Utensils

  • Small tongs
  • Vegie peeler
  • Utility knife
  • Grater
  • Small scissors
  • Can  and bottle opener
  • Egg flip
  • Egg rings
  • Flat whisk
  • Meat thermometer
  • Small paring knife
  • Serving spoon
  • Permanent marker
  • Rubber bands
  • Gas lighter / matches
  • Paper towels
  • Pastry / basting brush
  • Wooden skewers

8: Water And Refreshments

Camp close to a reliable water source and maintain a good supply of water at your campsite. This will save on multiple trips to the tap or other source, and is essential when staying in remote areas. For this you will need the following essential items:

  • A bucket for carrying
  • A food grade container with a tap
  • If you want to be self sufficient, a water tank or bladder

9: Cleaning And Dish Washing Station

Many campgrounds don’t provide dishwashing facilities, so you will generally need the necessary items for the times when you need clean dishes. As well as hot water, listed below is all you really need for washing dishes after a meal:

Cleaning And Dish Washing Station
  • Dishwashing / kitchen sink or basin
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Tea towels
  • Dish cloth
  • Pot scrubber
  • Rubber gloves
  • Garbage bags
  • Hot water

A hand washing station is also important when preparing food. This can be in the form of a water container with tap, a bucket with a cup or bowl or simply a recycled bottle.

10: Sundry Items And Refreshments

  • Recipes
  • Snap-lock bags
  • Foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Baking / parchment paper
  • Furniture
  • Meal plan
  • Plastic containers for picnic food

Meal Plan and Recipes

In the coming months we will be putting together recipes that can easily be prepared in our camp kitchen setup, so stay tuned.

Food pantry of long life ingredients

If you’re a regular camper, you’ll save packing time by maintaining a permanent food pantry containing the kitchen supplies and staple ingredients you’ll typically use during any given trip.

Once you have your camping pantry of staples in place, all you need to do is to decide on what is on the menu, replenish the what you are running low on, and add anything additional required for the recipes, such as any spice and sauce mixes.

If you only need a small amount in the packet, transferring the required quantity into a suitable container, plastic bottle or snap lock bag to reduce the amount you need to pack.

You should also ensure that your containers and bags are securely closed after use and before being packed for transport to avoid leakage. There are things more annoying and frustrating than discovering leaked flour or olive oil all over your container… and beyond, but not many!

Also Read: 3 Best Tents With Hinged Doors

Listed below are the products we typically pack in our food pantry – all you need to do is start creating a list of your favorite ingredient lists and recipes that you all love and that are possible using the tools above. .

Here are the camping food items that we include in our long-life food pantry:

Herbs and spices

  • Dried mint
  • Turmeric           
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Chilli flakes
  • Paprika
  • Stock cubes       
  • S/P grinder
  • Ground coriander
  • Saffron
  • Nutmeg             
  • Dried oregano
  • Ground cumin
  • Cinnamon

Sauces & spreads etc

  • White wine vinegar
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey  
  • Vegemite
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Vanilla extract

Dried foods

  • Corn flour
  • Couscous
  • Tea       
  • Plain flour
  • Bread flour
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Coffee  
  • Baking powder
  • Dried chickpeas
  • Brown sugar
  • Hot chocolate   
  • Bi-carb soda
  • Rice
  • Caster / fine sugar

Keeping Animals Away From Your Food

While here in Australia, we have to worry about the animals that eat our food, but in other countries, it seems that they are more interested in eating us! For example, Mount Whitney comes to mind as a place where hikers have reported bear sightings and attacks.

So, although the level of precautions taken may depend on whether birds or bears are your prey animals, here are some tips for keeping animals away:

  • Thoroughly clean any items of food smells, scraps and remains
  • Remove all food related rubbish and waste to the designated waste bins regularly, and particularly each evening
  • Cook at a distance from your tent and sleeping area
  • Store your food and other scented items such as toileltries away from your tent and sleeping area, especially if there is a risk to your personal safety.

We hope we have given you lots of camp kitchen setup ideas. For lots more tips and advice, check out our Blog.

One Comment

Hamilton says:

Amazing Bro