Camp Cooking: Tips for camping with your family

Camp cooking, Father and son eating food together

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Camping can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it's important to be prepared for cooking meals while you're outdoors. These tips will help you make the most of your cooler space, cook with minimal equipment, and serve up delicious food on reusable plates. By being mindful of what you bring camping, you'll make the trip more enjoyable for everyone involved!

We all love to have a good time outdoors and many families find the spirit of adventure in camping, cooking at their campsite and enjoying nature. Camping offers many opportunities for creativity, but there are things campers should be mindful of when preparing food at the campsite to make sure everyone has an enjoyable experience. Check out these top tips for cooking while camping with your family, so you can enjoy every meal! 

Make a meal plan for the entire holiday

Planning is key to ensuring your camp cooking is a success. Carefully plan every meal, and you’ll make this camping trip one to remember. There are plenty of simple, healthy and delicious options that need only a little organisation.

List your options

Start by making a list of meals for the entire holiday. Decide what you’re able to cook at the campsite and what you may need to buy ready-made or pre-cooked. By combining pre-cooked frozen meals with fresh salad ingredients, you can make a pretty cool camp menu.

Old School Camp Cooking

Of course, nothing can beat freshly cooked steak and grilled vegetables or a slow-cooked stew over a campfire! This old-fashioned way of camp cooking can make the entire experience and the food special. And it just takes planning.

A meal for all occasions

Don’t forget about breakfast, morning teas and coffees! Just because you’re out of home doesn’t mean you have to leave your daily routine. Think about small snacks and bites like nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruits or even cheese. They’re great for fixing up the “hungries”, when you need a little extra time to prepare main meals and navigate camp life. Your camping companions will enjoy it (especially if they’re kids), and you’ll have enough time to cook before they start making “starving to death” claims.

Remember to pack your cooking essentials: salt, pepper, sugar, a small bottle of olive oil and whatever spices you enjoy using. (Pro Tip: use empty tictac containers or similar small containers to transport your spices – they’re small, compact and stack well. You don’t need to bring the whole container, just what you need)

Preprep will save your camp cook time

Once you have your master plan for your camp cooking meals, you can prepare as much of the food as possible before you leave for your trip. This will make the trip to the great outdoors go smoother and easier.

Prep list

  1. Pre-measure the ingredients of the meals, you’ll cook in the camp.
  2. Make your barbeque sauces, salad dressings or pesto in zip-lock bags or plastic bottles
  3. Chop all dry vegetables (except your potatoes). Don’t chop up the wet veggies (tomatoes) and wash your potatoes so dirt doesn’t go everywhere in your bags
  4. Slice the cheese and all other appetisers.
  5. If you’re planning to go old school and grill, you can marinate the meat in plastic bags. It’ll be perfectly flavoured until cooking time.
  6. You can also freeze the marinated meat in ziplock bags – they’ll work as an ice pack and defrost in the esky ready for use in a day

Not only will your cooking be more efficient and less hassle overall… but you’ll also minimise the washing up. And let’s face it – no one likes carrying their dishes to the camp kitchen to do washup!  

If you prepare in advance, you can set yourself up to enjoy a fillet mignon under the stars!

Cook smarter, not harder

You don’t want any surprises when you’re out under the open sky or far from civilisation, so choose your camp cooking equipment wisely! Reduce it to a minimum, but make sure you take all you need for the planned meals. Don’t forget to test everything before you go!

Here’s our list of must-haves

Matches and lighter fluid

  • Whether you’re using a portable burner or the on-site cooking facilities, matches are extremely helpful if your starter fails, the gas bbq won’t light or if you’re going old-school on a campfire.

    • Remember to store the matches in a waterproof container!

Camp stove or a portable butane one

  • This one goes hand-in-hand with matches and lighter fluid. Prepare yourself with a good camp stove. Just make sure you have enough fuel for everything you plan to cook. Bringing a stove with you is a good decision, even if you’re not planning to cook on it. It can save you in bad weather. There are economical, highly efficient, portable models and some of them can work even in strong winds.
    • This will also ensure that your morning coffee time is secured 

Pan or pot with a lid

  • Prepare yourself with a pan or a pot if you are going to cook soup, stew, pasta or other juicy food. Cast-iron ones are a very good choice. Although being a bit heavy, they have numerous advantages for camping, as they give the meat better taste, conduct heat evenly and remain hot for a long time. Cast-iron pan will be ideal for the morning omelettes, heating up something, preparing the perfect steak, hot dogs or skewers.
    • Whatever cookware you choose, don’t forget to take the lid. It’ll make cooking faster, and will keep the insects out of your food.

Aluminium foil or heavy-duty foil bags

  • This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to cook. Just wrap the food, salt and oil in aluminium foil and put it directly in the heat of your cooker. All root vegetables, corn and onions work perfectly with this method – and taste delicious with a bit of extra cheese!
    • Keep in mind to check your veggies frequently to prevent burning.
    • Heavy-duty aluminium bags are ideal for mixing vegetables, meats and juicy food.
    • Another benefit is that there is no cleanup because you can throw up the foil after cooking. 

Spatula and tongs

  • They are the cook’s best friends, and you will definitely need them!

Corkscrew or Waiter’s Friend

  • Okay, It’s not a piece of cooking equipment, but it is always good to have one on hand to get into wine bottles or any other bottles with capped lids.

Optimise the cooler space

How you pack your cooler can define your camp cooking experience! Not just because of the food, but for the beverages too! Freezing all you can is an excellent way to prolong the low temperature in the cooler. Add bottles of frozen water to reduce the need for ice: They will gradually defrost, and keep everything else in the cooler fresh!

Separate your in-demand items 

Frequently opening and closing your cooler for beverages and snacks will make it less efficient. Why not take a separate cooler for the items that you and your family will use the most? This will guarantee that the cooler with the food will retain its temperature longer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the products for the next day. If you decide to take only one cool box, put the beverages on top and the meat on the bottom, as this will be the coolest place and ensure the cooler stays open for the least amount of time outside cooked meals.


Another important thing you can do is remove all big food packaging. Put everything in zip-lock bags to save space. Replace all the glass with plastic bottles or bags. You can even crack your eggs in a plastic bag or a jar. Besides, you won’t have to worry about them getting crushed when in the cooler.   

Using reusable freezable sheets is also an efficient option for optimising the cooler if you are not planning to use ice for drinks or anything else. While saving space, freezable sheets will eliminate the chance of melted ice penetrating the food.  

Equip yourself with air-tight containers

Air tight containers will definitely come in handy for any pre-cooked meals that you’re thinking of bringing along on your camping adventure. You can freeze a stew, curry, pasta or even a soup in an air-tight container without worrying that something will spill into the cooler.

They will save your food for a longer time and will retain all the flavours of your pre-cooked delicacy. What’s more, you can use the same containers or bags to prepare the meals, mix ingredients, or serve during the camping. 

Sustainable & reusable camp dinnerware

Investing in a durable camp cooking dinnerware set is a good option. While they’ll continue to serve you for a long time, they’ll also bring a bit more style to your meals than paper or plastic alternatives. Imagine your perfectly cooked dinner served on disposable plates and eaten with cheap plastic forks… It’s not only uncomfortable (especially when your plastic knife cannot cut through your meat) but it’s also not good for the environment.

Sustainable cutlery

Specialised camp plates and cutlery are compact and made of lightweight materials. Bamboo utensils are a perfect option, as they are durable and eco-friendly. There are fancy “sporks” and many other functional and space-friendly options. Just keep in mind to take a plastic dish tub, biodegradable soap and some absorbent towels, as you’ll still have to do the washing up (sorry, no instant fix for that one)!

Many thanks to our guest blogger

Brisbane Holiday Village would like to thank Jane Wilson for her fantastic guest blog! Jane is a mum, a blogger and a marketing executive from Melbourne. She represents the local branch of Fantastic Cleaners, a licensed cleaning company, which provides a wide range of services. She also runs a small blog called Modern Housewives, where she shares all kinds of home improvement and parenting tips.

If you’re looking for your next adventure with your kids, just remember that Brisbane Holiday Village is only 15 minutes away from Brisbane City!  

Our village offers a huge variety of tropical resort-style facilities including FREE WIFI, a lagoon pool, kiddies splash pool, on-site restaurant, mini-golf, tennis court and free parking.

Grab a great holiday deal by booking directly with us OR give our friendly reception staff a call on (07) 3341 6133.

- The BHV Team

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