Pitch Your Tent: Camp Cooking

Camp Cooking Utensil Checklist

Now that you’ve read up on camp stoves and have some basic fire-making ideas, I wanted to share with you my checklist for camping cooking utensils. I’m not covering what I recommend you take for food, but what I recommend that you take for supplies.

Like all checklists, this isn’t the be-all, end-all list. You need to be sure to bring the items that make YOUR life easier. And, by the same token, you can leave things at home that you never use.

The best way to use a checklist is to print it out and not only use it, but take it WITH you. Then, when you think of something that you wish you had, you can put it on the list right away. When you get home, evaluate what you took and decide if each item has its place.

I am not a huge fan of made-for-camping utensils. I prefer to use regular kitchen gadgets. Of course, when the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” family camps, we take a huge RV so space isn’t much of an issue. If I’m car or tent camping, then I do think about what can do double duty.

Don't skimp on the can opener -- get a quality one.

If you’re planning on using paper plates and bowls, and plastic eating utensils be sure to bring ENOUGH. I went on a camping trip with a friend who counted exactly how many meals we would eat and then only brought that many plastic forks. The problem was that no COOKING forks were brought. Needless to say we were out of forks about three meals early and had to go to town for more!

Plastic, washable plates and metal silverware is a plus since they hold up better and you can wash them if you run out. Of course, then you have to wash them!

I always recommend setting up a big plastic container with a snap-on lid for your kitchen supplies. It keeps everything clean and together. If at all possible, I recommend having this kitchen kit separate from your house’s kitchen. That means that you’re not robbing your kitchen drawers for a can opener; there’s a camping can opener that just stays in the kit.

The Queen Mother did this with her RV kitchen over the course of several years. During that time, she refined what camp cooking tools and utensils she wanted AND she didn’t break the bank as she acquired them!

We have a set that never leaves the RV.

  • Big spoon for stirring and or serving (you might want more than one!)
  • Bottle opener
  • Bottled water – both individual bottles and large jugs of potable water for cooking
  • Bowls (eating and mixing)
  • Can opener
  • Clothes pins (for closing bags of chips, holding down tablecloths, etc)
  • Coffee supplies (pot, filters, cups) and/or a tea kettle
  • Cold-drink cups
  • Collapsible dish drain
  • Containers for food storage that have lids
  • Corkscrew
  • Cutting board
  • Cutting knife for food prep
  • Cutting knives for eating (like steak knives)
  • Dish pan
  • Dish rags and towels
  • Dish soap
  • Forks, spoons, and knives
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • Ice chests
  • Large pot with a lid
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mugs
  • Napkins
  • Paper plates / cups (we always bring both paper and plastic plates and cups)
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic silverware
  • Plastic tablecloth
  • Potato Peeler
  • Potholders
  • Scrub pad
  • Skillet
  • Small pot with a lid
  • Strike-anywhere matches
  • Tea kettle
  • Thermos (so you can take the coffee with you!)
  • Tongs (plastic tips can melt!)
  • Trash bags
  • Utility lighter
  • Ziplock bags in a variety of sizes

I know this is a pretty big list. But, let me explain a few of my choices:

A big pot with a lid AND a smaller pot with a lid – there’s nothing worse than boiling water to wash dishes and not having enough hot water at a time. I recommend a BIG pot with a lid so you can heat quite a bit of water. Just remember, it will take longer to heat the water than it does at home!

The smaller pot is for cooking. If you can, get pots with two stubby handles on each side rather than one long handle. That way, they can nest inside of each other and save space!

The Queen Mother LOVES her coffeemaker!

Coffee pot AND a tea kettle – if you are serious about coffee, then I recommend this coffee maker from Coleman. It sits on a propane stove and does a fantastic job! If you’re like me though, I don’t want my water for tea or hot chocolate tasting like coffee so I bring a separate tea kettle.

That tea kettle can also be used to heat water for washing up.

Strike-anywhere matches AND a utility fire lighter – if matches get wet, you’re stuck. The utility lighter can get damp and still work. By the same token, a utility lighter can run out of fuel and matches can’t. The other reason I recommend both is the reach of the lighter is farther. My camp stove doesn’t have a self-ignition so I have to turn on the gas and then light it. I prefer NOT to do that with a match since I have singed my fingers before!

Plastic silverware AND real silverware – have you ever tried to eat steak with a plastic fork and knife? I bring both types since plastic is perfect for snacks and real flatware is better for meals.

Paper plates AND plastic plates – same reasoning as the silverware. Paper is perfect for snacks but I prefer a real plate when I’m eating a meal. Now, when I say plastic, I don’t mean plastic disposable, but plastic washable.

If you're going to use disposable, be sure to bring enough!

Some other things I like to take:

  • Colander (if you’re making pasta, this is a must!)
  • Griddle (pancakes just taste better when cooked outside)
  • Basting brush (we were making shrimp on the barbeque and had to make a basting brush out of pine needles!)
  • Fish basket
  • Marshmallow toasting forks

Give Me Your Feedback:

What are the must-have camp cooking tools that your family takes? What can you just not live without?

Want a .pdf download of this checklist?

Click here. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat to open the checklist.

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