What cooking gear should go into a camp kitchen? Below is my packing list of kitchen and cooking gear I use while tent camping and tips and tricks on how to keep it organized.
As tent campers, we usually cook all of our meals from the campground. We will sometimes go out if we are close to town and want to treat ourselves, but the majority of our meals we make at camp.
When you are on the road for two weeks, staying organized is key. We don’t have a very large car, so we try and keep all of our gear organized, so we can easily find what we need, when we need it.
Camp Kitchen Essentials
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A good camp kitchen is essential to a good cooking experience while camping. Just because you are camping doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good food. Having a good kit together will allow you to make a variety of good meals. Read or scroll to the end of the article to see a link to my kitchen essentials packing list.
I have three general categories for organizing our kitchen gear:
- 2 storage bins to hold cooking utensils and dishes
- 2 dishwashing bins
- Camp stoves, grill, and fuel
Storage bins to hold utensils
I have 2 clear storage bins with locking lids to hold all of the utensils and dishes. These bins always stay packed and stored nicely in my shed until we need them. When we camp, I don’t even need to go through them, because they are already packed and ready to go.
I organize my bins into two categories, dishes I need for breakfast, and dishes I need for lunch/dinner. That way when we are camping, I don’t always need to get both bins out. In the morning I can just grab the breakfast bin and don’t need to dig through both for the dishes we need. If you are a more minimalist cooker than I am, you could probably get away with one bin.
- Silverware: My go-to is the Humangear fork and spoon combo. We also each have a titanium spork as a backup.
- Mugs: Two coffee/hot chocolate mugs we put in the breakfast bin.
- Pots and pans: I have a small camp pot I got from the Coleman outlet.
- Plates/bowls: We have 4 total; 2 each in case we skip doing dishes for a meal.
- Cups: I usually don’t use a cup, I have a water bottle I carry, but just in case, these are in the bin.
- Serving utensils: I got these from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I like them because they are silicone so can withstand high heats, but small so pack into the bins nicely.
- Spices: Salt, pepper, and garlic powder are always in my camp bins. If I need anything else, I will pack separately in an unused contact case. Contact cases are the perfect size for a small amount of spices. You can fit a 1/2 teaspoon of spice in each side.
Below are the miscellaneous items that I don’t always use, but I keep in the bins just in case:
- Hand sanitizer
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Aluminum foil
- Trash bags
- Cutting board
- Butcher knife
- Bag of condiments: So this may seem like a strange one, but it’s a game-changer. Instead of traveling with entire bottles of ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc., we stash away the extra condiments we get from restaurants when we get take-out. Then when we are camping, we always have something on hand. Most of the time, this bag comes in handy with my friends when they show up and don’t have any ketchup for the burgers they made.
I have a few cooking items that aren’t in the bins. These items are a little more specialized and I don’t have two of them. These are the only things (besides food), that I have to pack individually every time we camp:
- Cast irons (small and large) Check out this informative post for How to Clean a Cast Iron Pan.
- Chain mail for cleaning the cast iron
- Insulated mugs: Insulated mugs are great for cooking oatmeal. Just add water to your quick oats in the mug and let sit for five minutes.
I have two dishwashing bins that I store a dishwashing brush, some earth-friendly soap, and microfiber towels. We don’t always need both bins, but it’s nice to have them in case we do.
When not in use, we use the bins to store our Jetboil, backpacking stove, and cooking fuel.
Camp Stove and Grill
As a big cooker, I have one of everything in the stove department. I choose what I am going to take depending on what we will be cooking and where we will be camping. For road trips, I take everything. I have a Coleman 2-burner stove with griddle attachment, a backpacking stove, and a Jetboil.
The 2-burner stove/grill gets used the most often for dinner and when we can’t cook over the fire. We are often on a fire ban in Colorado, so we need a stove handy in case we can’t start a fire. The griddle attachment for the stove is nice if we are making burgers, hot dogs, or pancakes.
I use the backpacking stove when I just need one burner to cook some pasta or rice.
The Jetboil is a newer purchase that I use in the morning for heating up water for coffee, oatmeal, and hot chocolate. I was extremely hesitant to make this purchase, I thought it was unnecessary. Now that I have one, it might be the most used piece of cooking equipment I own. Using the Jetboil saves me a lot of time and clean up in the morning since I don’t need to get out the entire grill to make oatmeal. I can easily get the Jetboil going and have boiling water with no mess in under 10 minutes.
Listed out, this may seem like a lot of gear, but it all packs up nicely in the bins, and for longer road trips, it’s nice to be able to make a variety of food.
Want to see this in a PDF printout? Here’s a copy of my kitchen camping list. You can download for yourself in Google to edit and add other things to your packing list.
What do you have in your camp kitchen? Any tricks you have found for staying organized while cooking outside?