We love love love camping! But as many of you know, camping can be a lot of work; you are in the middle of nowhere (or at least you want to feel like you are) and you have to provide shelter, entertainment, and food for yourself and your loved ones. That requires a lot of supplies!! As the type A person in the relationship I take on most of the preparation and planning for our trips because if anyone else does it…I’ll end up redoing it anyways (that’s a trait I inherited from my project manager father, thanks dad…).
I am all about any hacks that make things easier on me and my family, even if it means a little extra time or energy beforehand. This is one of my favorite ways I have found to make camping easier. So easy in fact that if an opportunity to camp comes up last minute I don’t stress out because I know we are already ready to go! This saves us from ever missing out on an adventure just because we didn’t have time to prep. I’ll be writing a few posts on ways to make camping easier, but this one is specifically about the cooking supplies.
We have a small outdoor shed that houses all of our camping supplies (there’s a tip in and of itself: put all the camping stuff together in one spot for easy and quick access - but thats another post for another time...) including two large plastic bins. I keep all the cooking/kitchen tools we may need while camping in one of the bins at all times. For a complete list, click here. Eating healthy, less processed, homemade food it is important to us and we shouldn’t’ have to sacrifice that just because I don’t have access to our full kitchen (stay tuned for a blog about our favorite easy camping meals!). And with the bin pre-packed, we never do! I don’t have to think about all the details and utensils it takes to make a homemade meal while in in the wood before we can hit the road, I know it is all sitting in that bin ready to go.
I created the contents of the bin by sitting down and thinking through everything I could possible need for cooking a myriad of meals and making giant list (I always make lists…another thing from dad). Then I simplified the list as much as possible to reduce bulk. I, of course, forgot a few items on the first go-round but over the last few years I’ve edited and added and am very happy with the current version (this list is meant for two people so be sure to edit accordingly for your camping friends and family).
Any over flow items from the list go into the second large plastic bin which is reserved for dry goods; any food we are bringing on the trip that does not need to be kept cold or frozen. This reduces bulk by consolidating food from open grocery bags prone to spilling into one sealed, conveniently rectangular (aka easy to pack) container. I also put our toiletry bags in this bin so they always make it into the bear box at night and are not accidently left in a suitcase in the tent.
I also keep a running list of items I do not have an extra one of to keep in the bin full time, but that I know I need to add last minute. This is not ideal, but instead of going out and buying extras that will only be used when camping, I prefer to wait until one turns up by chance as a hand-me-down (I LOVE hand-me-downs) or I find a great deal at the dollar store or something. Then I’ll add that item to the bin for good and remove it from the waiting list. I got the majority of the reusable items currently in the bin as hand-me-downs from my mom when I moved into my first college apartment. They all worked great so I kept on using them over the years until we got married last May. After the wedding we were lucky enough to have been gifted all new kitchen items by our amazing friends and family so the good old college stuff became our new camping stuff!
Finally there is one item that does not fall into the pre-packed category or the waiting-for-a-hand-me-down category that gets added to the bin just before a trip, and that is a good chef’s knife. Cooking with a dull knife is torture!! So instead of keeping a knife in the bin at all times, waiting for it to rust and dull beyond repair, I wrap one of my good chef’s knives in a kitchen towel and secure it with rubber bands for safety before adding it to the bin the night before we leave.
A note on keeping the bin camping ready! I keep tabs on anything that has run out or is close to running out (e.g. ziplock bags, dish soap, seasoning, propane, etc.) and make sure to restock those items BEFORE we put the bins away after our trip. The kitchen towel also gets thrown in the first load of laundry when we get home and is added back to the bin clean and ready before it is stored away for the next adventure.
Having these items pre-packed makes me more confident that we can pick up to leave at any time and will still be able to feed ourselves well. to make finding an adventure easier and more enjoyable is a no brainer for me. I hope you found this explanation and list helpful or informative, please let me know what you think!!