the essential outdoor kitchen

how to pack your outdoor kitchen

It is safe to assume that this article is not for back-packers or thru-hikers where less is more. This article is very much for the family get away, perhaps with friends who are spending a few days to a week in the great outdoors. However I do try to keep things in one container; with the exception of the larger items under “Stove, Grill and Open Fire”, all your gear should be able to fit into one 54-quart plastic tub. If you choose space-efficient nesting posts and pans with pot lifters, you’ll have even more wiggle room. It’s nice to have a picnic table or portable camp table for laying out your gear once you arrive at camp; I personally like my Mountain Summit Gear Deluxe Roll Top Kitchen and my 2 ust FlexWare 16 liter Sinks which are great for washing cookware and or storing dirty dishware. Wrap greasy or dirty items, like cast-iron pans or a grill brush, in newspaper before packing them in the storage tub. The option items depend on the recipes you choose. Bring a shovel if you are planning to dig your own campfire pit or cook with goals. Most established campgrounds in the National Forests or National Park campgrounds have campfire rings and do require their use. Note: Leave No Trace

Tools and Serving Ware

  • Multipurpose pocket knife with corkscrew, bottle opener and scissors.
  • Chef’s knife, sharpened.
  • Paring knife, sharpened.
  • Cutting board (bring two if preparing meat and vegetables; silicone boards are lightweight and packable while wood are nice for serving).
  • 12 by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet.
  • Serving spoon.
  • Wooden spoon or stainless steel slotted spoon.
  • Long-handled metal grill tongs (bring two if grilling meat and vegetables).
  • Long-handled metal grill spatula (extra long for grilling).
  • Microplane (fine zester or grater).
  • Meat thermometer.
  • 3-inch fine-mesh strainer.
  • Apron.
  • Coffee gear (French press).
  • Individual camper place settings.
  • Large mixing bowl (optional).
  • Large or small serving bowls and plates (optional).
  • Pastry brush (optional).
  • Vegetable peeler (optional).
  • Serrated bread knife (optional).
  • Paper towels (Optional).
  • Tablecloth or picnic blanket (Optional).

Pots and Pans

  • 10-inch cast-iron skillet, frying pan, or sauté pan, with lid.
  • 12-inch cast-iron skillet, frying pan, or sauté pan, with lid.
  • 1-quart pot.
  • 3-quart pot.
  • 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, with flanged-lid.
  • Dutch oven lid-lifter (optional).

Bring just the pots and pans needed for the food & recipes you plan to cook that nest for efficient packing. Various camping brands make lightweight, space-saving cookware with potholders. These often come with “strainer” lids so you can leave the colander at home. If baking with a Dutch oven over coals, a flanged lid is ideal. For less cleanup, serve directly from pots and pans.

Storage and Cleaning Supplies

  • Glass jar with lid for collecting grease and cooking fat (practice Leave No Trace principles).
  • Extra containers and large ziplocks bags for leftovers.
  • 1 box heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • 1 box parchment or butcher paper (for serving certain dishes; less bulk and washing).
  • 2 to 4 quick-dry dish towels or bandannas (make sure you don’t mind stains, and designate one for using with cast iron).
  • Biodegradable, eco-friendly soap.
  • 3 trash bags per day for trash, recycling and compost (seal and store properly at night to keep critters away).
  • Silicone sponge (dries quickly)
  • Water, if not available on-site (water “bladders” or bags are great collapsible options).

Tip: Save on washing by licking your plate or mopping it clean with bread. Scrape off remaining residue with coarse salt or good old fashioned dirt, a natural abrasive sponge! Plus a little bit of dirt is good for you.

Stove, Grill and Open Fire

We’ve all watched movies or shows like (Cast Away or Naked & Afraid) the number one item needed was FIRE! do not skimp on these items, while you normally use them for cooking or making s’mores, tools to make fire are also a safety item.

  • Matches or a lighter, or fire starter (waterproof matches).
  • Two-burner camp stove.
  • Propane for camp stove.
  • Portable grill and/or grill grate.
  • Wire grill brush.
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Fire Side Gloves
  • Newspaper, Tinder shreds
  • Shovel