It’s finally time to go on that camping trip you’ve been planning for a while. You reserved a spot right next to the lake so you and the kids can go swimming, fishing, and have a weekend of outdoor fun! During the day, you can go hiking and play games, and at night you can sit around by the campfire telling ghost stories while making s’mores and roasting marshmallows until everyone’s too full to make any more.
However, the kids won’t survive a camping trip if all they’re eating are hot dogs and s’mores over the campfire. They’re going to need more food than that for a pleasant camping trip! Also: just eating hot dogs and s’mores isn’t the healthiest way for you and the family to enjoy a weekend.
Not every campground in the world is going to provide a grill for you to cook hamburgers to your heart’s desire. You may need to cook over an open flame. Cooking over a campfire can sound intimidating to a beginner, but it’s one of the easiest forms of cooking a person can do. People have been cooking over fire since the discovery of fire.
With careful planning, campfire cooking can be one of the easiest and most fun parts of the camping trip. It’s easy enough that you could get your kids involved if they want to help! By the end of this article, you’re going to learn how to cook over a campfire.
Step 1: Know your campground
As I mentioned above, not every camping site is going to have a grill provided for you. The same goes for providing cooking utensils and camping equipment. You’ll be lucky if you get skewers. If a campground does provide materials for you, it might be to sell and not to borrow.
For this, research is best. Know your camping situation before you make a trip to the campground. You’ll feel better when you do. The best resource will be the State Park website for a particular campsite, such as the one for Donner Lake
Step 2: Plan out your meals and prepare things at home
Unless you plan on lugging around a cast-iron Dutch oven, some food isn’t meant to be cooked over an open flame. Anything that drips fat, like bacon, is not a good idea unless you have the proper equipment to do so.
If you have any cooking supplies with plastic or rubber in them, leave them at home. This includes things like plastic mixing bowls, baking trays, and more.
Plastic will melt under an open flame. Most experienced campers will bring a grill cover, cast-iron cooking materials, coal, tongs, skewers, aluminum foil, and a serving spoon. The only plastic you see on a campsite is the likely plastic utensils to eat with or Tupperware containers.
Once you’ve decided what you’ll be eating on your camping trip, you can prepare some of the smaller stuff at home. If you know you need to chop vegetables for a meal, do it at home and put them in a plastic bag for later. By preparing small things at home, you’ll be able to cook and enjoy your meal quicker on your camping trip.
If you bring raw meat on your camping trip, be sure you’re aware of food safety! Meat shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour if it’s outside in temperatures over 90 degrees. Look for a temperature-regulating cooler to bring the meat.
Step 3: Build your campfire and wait.
Make sure you’re building your campfire in a safe spot. When you build your fire, you don’t want to put in all of your firewood at once because you’re not going to start cooking the moment you have an open flame. More on that in a moment!
One other thing to think about when building your campfire is the flame size. If the flame is too big, the most you’ll end up with is burned food all weekend. Even worse, you’ll find that adding fire coals can make the entire process even longr.
Typically, your fire needs to be burning for 30-60 minutes before you are ready to start cooking, depending on what it is. That way, the fire you cook with are warmed up enough that you can cook a decent meal.
Step 4: Be patient!
Open flame cooking will take longer than cooking on your gas stove, so keep that in mind when you’re cooking your food. If you’re cooking meat, it’s best to bring a meat thermometer designed for camping to make sure you’re not serving undercooked meat to the kids. Nothing ruins a camping trip quite like food poisoning!
Typically, wrapping some food in aluminum foil will help speed up the process of cooking. Remember how I mentioned kids can help out with cooking over an open flame? This is an easy job to give a kid that wants to help make dinner! It’ll help them feel more responsible and more confident in their abilities. But make sure you’re setting strict rules to make sure they’re helping safely!
Once food is wrapped in aluminum foil, you can place most things directly into the flame. However, this doesn’t work for every type of food and makes it entirely possible you’ll burn your food. To increase the likelihood of campfire cooking success, look into a camping stove like the Canway cooking stove.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Once your food is done, take some tongs and serve to your hungry fellow campers! Something about teamwork makes a meal taste much better. If you have any leftovers, you can store them in whatever plastic containers you brought with you. That way you can avoid any unexpected animal guests showing up to your campsite.
Step 6: Clean up!
Bringing aluminum foil to your campsite will make cleaning up after a meal super easy. All of the trash can be put in the used foils and can be thrown away at the nearest trash can near you. Your campsite will be as spotless as an outdoor campsite can be!
If you don’t need a campfire for the night, make sure you know how to put it out safely! An unexpected fire on your campsite could bring a damper on your camping trip.
And that’s how to cook over a campfire!
Now that you know how to cook over a campfire, your camping trip will add an extra layer of fun! And you save money by cooking at the campsite instead of constantly leaving to look for the nearest McDonald’s. It’s also healthier for you and the kids too! There are lots of different recipes online for you to try to cook over a campfire! Check them out and cook something new today! Happy camping!
See you at the campsite!