How to Pack for Your Camp Kitchen

How to Pack for Your Camp Kitchen

How to Pack for Your Camp Kitchen


One benefit of car camping is that you can bring as many cooking items with you as you would like. Instead of figuring out how to downsize your food like you would need to if you were backpacking, camping gives you the chance to bring a lot more. Since you’re not restricted to one bag, whatever you can fit in your car is a safe bet. Getting the chance to fire up some great meals and desserts at the campground means that you’ll have quite a big packing list to check. While you shouldn’t bring everything with you, there are some things you’ll want to pack for your camp kitchen.

To Keep Things Fresh

One of the best parts of having a camp kitchen is the ability to bring a cooler with you. Whether you plan on packing it with just beer or snacks, that’s up to you. But, bringing a cooler allows you to bring other foods that you wouldn’t normally be able to bring on a backpacking trip. This can mean anything from a tub of cream cheese, to eggs (not freeze-dried), vegetables (again, not freeze-dried), ice, and even juicy steaks! On the other hand, if you want to keep things hot, then you can bring a few thermoses with you, so the kids can enjoy hot cocoa and the adults can have a warm cup of joe in the morning.

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To Cook Whatever You Want, However You Want

Car camping means that you’re not limited to just a small portable stove and a single pot like you would be out on the trail. In addition to making your beautiful campfire, you can also bring a set of different pots and pans. Consider bringing a dutch oven to make baked apples,  or a large grill grate to cook up those steaks you brought. Of course, you’ll definitely need an assortment of matches, fire starters, firewood, propane, and all that other fun stuff to get your stove going.

To Be Fully Prepared For Everything

Cooking while car camping means you can bring any tools necessary to make the most of your experience. Again, while you should try to limit bringing the entire contents of your cupboard, don’t feel guilty about bringing more just in case. This includes cooking tools like skewers, tongs, a spatula, a sharp knife, and pot holders. Additionally, don’t forget to bring aluminum foil, can openers, bottle openers, a cutting board, napkins, and Ziploc bags or Tupperware for leftovers!

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For Your Table

Unlike backpacking, having a camp kitchen means you don’t need to reuse a single plate the entire time. Though, being mindful of the environment is always important, car camping means you can bring along plastic plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery. If you want to re-use, then you can buy some cheap ones at the dollar store. Although you can eat by sitting on a large rock, having a table will make cleanup a lot easier. Bring a folding table, a plastic tablecloth, a weight to keep it down in the wind, and some lounge chairs.

To Cleanup Fast and Easy

Cleanup for your camp kitchen is a lot different than backpacking. Having the ability to bring more supplies with you means there will be a lot more to clean up. Bring paper towels, trash bags, dish soap sponges, and dishrags, unless you have a rack to dry the pots and pans. Remember to keep in mind the “Leave No Trace” ethics, and make sure your campsite looks the same, or even better, than it did when you arrived.



Once you have the necessities, it’s a good idea to bring along things for convenience. One item is giant jug of water or pitchers to fill up for the group. You might bring a water bottle for each person to have so you can be sure everyone is staying hydrated. Don’t forget to bring that bottle of ketchup, or any other spices or condiments you wish to have while cooking outdoors.

And of course, don’t forget the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate!

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When it comes to cooking outdoors, there’s no doubt that car camping is just easier for it than backpacking. There’s no need to worry about buying freeze-dried food, dehydrating meals, or having to eat ramen for days at a time. Though that can all be fun, there’s something truly enjoyable about cooking when you don’t have to carry all the food, pots, pans, and utensils on your back.

Being able to have a camp kitchen means there is no need to worry about how you’re going to fit certain meals in your bag, how you’re going to cook on a small stove, or how to get the proper nutrition with limited space for your food. If you want to really take advantage of a stationary camping spot, then make sure you pack all these cooking items with you.

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.