Here's the essential equipment to take with you.
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Campfire Fried Eggs with Potato-and-Bacon Hash
Credit: Tara Donne

You may have exceptional skills in the kitchen, but how do you transfer them to the great outdoors? Even for top-notch home cooks, planning meals for a camping trip can seem like an overwhelming task. Without your pantry of go-to ingredients, arsenal of pots and pans, knives, utensils, and appliances—not to mention stove and refrigerator—how are you supposed to cook? We have good news for you: There's no need to spend hundreds of dollars at the outdoor store on specialty cooking equipment and freeze-dried meals. Camp cooking requires planning but it's so much fun to cook and eat out in the fresh air. We think it's totally worth the effort.

The first things you need to think about are the very most basic: cold and heat. That is, how are you going to keep your food cold, and how are you going to cook it?

Chill Out

A cooler is fundamental to any camp kitchen. Actually, two coolers. It's a good idea to designate one cooler for drinks, snacks, and other frequently used items. Reserve the other cooler for meal ingredients—and be conservative about how often you open it. A well-insulated cooler that stays closed most of the time can keep the ice and food cold for multiple days.

Fan the Flames

Next question: What will be your heat source for cooking? A propane camp stove, a charcoal grill, a good old-fashioned campfire, or all three? Make sure you know before you go exactly what the fire pit/grill situation is at your campsite so you can plan meals and bring the right cooking gear.

Another (Cast) Iron in the Fire

A cast-iron skillet (from $29.99, will be your most faithful companion in your outdoor kitchen. It's durable enough to go directly over the campfire and you can cook all manner breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts in it.

Two Pairs of Tongs—and Make them Long!

Tongs ($18, are a heat-proof extension of your hands, and they're good for all manner of grabbing, flipping, and lifting. Use them to pull food directly off of the flames, and to pick up hot grills, too.

Foiled Again… and Again

A camp kitchen can never have too much heavy-duty aluminum foil ($2.99, You can wrap food in it to cook directly in the coals, and it can be turned into an instant lid for any pot, pan, or container.

Protect Your Paws

Cast iron skillets get hot, and so do campfires! Bring heavy-duty oven mitts ($10, or thick towels that you don't mind getting a little grubby to protect your hands from burns. Remember to keep those oven mitts dry or they'll be useless!


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