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The Car-Camping Kitchen

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The Car-Camping Kitchen


Car camping is a great American tradition.  This is the way most of us started to camp, traveling around the country, stopping off at campgrounds and RV parks in scenic places.  

The cooking on these trips can be done in a variety of ways.  Maybe your family likes to make a campfire and cook right over the flame.  You might load the campground grill with charcoal and grill your dinner.  Or you might bring along your own gas stove—these range from a one-burner whisper-lite variety to longer models with up to four burners.  Whatever way you cook, the methods all share certain commonalities. 

Conserving Space

Space is always at a premium when you’re traveling, especially if you’re toting tents and sleeping bags in the car.  Keep your car-camping kitchen well-organized by storing all of your cooking equipment in one plastic bin or cardboard box.  For a longer trip, store food in another similar container.  This keeps the food supplies easy to reach and to remove from the car, and it prevents your spoons getting lost in the mix of clothes and other gear.

Keeping Things Cool

Depending on the amount of space in your vehicle, you might decide to bring a cooler or ice chest for storing cold items.  If you don’t, then be sure to only bring foods that can last without refrigeration—or eat those up on your first day in camp. 

A Question of Space, Not Weight

On a backpacking trip, everything needs to be as light as possible.  But when you’re car camping, you have the luxury of being able to carry anything you want.  If your recipe calls for a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, then bring it along!  It’s space you need to watch, so be efficient by packing other kitchen items inside your Dutch oven.

Crucial Items

Whatever else you pack, be sure to remember: matches or a lighter, a long-handled spoon, a spice kit, pots/pans, and bowls/plates and eating utensils for the people in your party.  And don’t forget about the clean up!  You’ll want dish-washing soap if you’ll be at a campground, or biodegradable soap if you’re in the back country.  Bring a scrubby or washcloth.  Always be sure to put all of your food and cooking items in the car overnight, so you don’t attract any wild visitors.