Setting Up Your Camp Kitchen - Tips for Easy Cooking at Your Campsite

Take your kitchen on the road at your campsite!
 Peggy Sue, our 2001 Jayco Qwest Pop Up Camper, is small and basic.  I also think she is kind of fabulous.  We have really enjoyed each trip that we have taken with our family.  So far we have camped in the cold, the rain and the heat.  We have managed to make nice meals regardless of the weather.

In a limited space, how do you set up a kitchen where you really cook?  It is easier than you think.  And, it will make cooking on your camping trip much more enjoyable.

First, I decided what kind of cooking we wanted to do while camping.  I knew that I wanted to use our two burner stove, a dutch oven and campsite grill.  These basic facts would dominate how I would set up our camping kitchen.  

My kitchen set up includes my Dutch Oven and Pit Paws for safety and a two burner stove.
Also, I do a lot of prep work ahead of time before trips.  Much of my measuring, mixing, and chopping is done at home.  I didn't need to plan for a lot of heavy lifting with our camping excursions.  Plus, I know that three or four days is going to be a limit to our time on the road.  And we could eat out if we need to.  

Once I knew what kind of kitchen set up I wanted, I used this to guide what I would need for our kitchen.  Dollar and bargain stores are great places to get started.  This is where I got a lot of my gear. Dollar Tree is a personal favorite.

Start with your basic utensils.  You are going to need basic items like something for serving such as a large spoon, ladle, tongs, a spatula and a whisk.  Bonus items might include a vegetable peeler and pizza wheel.  You will also want to get a couple of basic knives.  I recommend a paring knife and chef's knife.  Both of these will get the job done.  Round out these items with a small cutting board.  I actually had one that I could use without buying it.

I pack all of my camping utensils in a plastic container that I can keep outside where I cook.
Every camp kitchen needs a skillet and a coffee pot.  I found a really nice T-fal non-stick skillet for $9 at a local bargain store.  I didn't actually buy a saucepan.  I just pack one from home if I need it.

Next spices and seasonings will be a must.  I found a great little set of plastic containers from Dollar Tree.  Ten pieces for $1.  I used spices I had and labeled them each with a label maker.  Spice blends also lighten the load along with making cooking easier.  Think something spicy such as a Cajun blend, a blend for veggies and chicken and one for red meats or steak.

Use a label maker for spices.  I picked up these containers for $1 at Dollar Tree.

Vanilla and Almond Extract are great items to have when camping.

Seasoning blends making cooking a snap.
You will also need something for mixing and making things.  I found a couple of large plastic bowls and a strainer at another bargain store for about $1.50 each.

I equipped our kitchen with a collapsible dish drainer for doing dishes easily along with plastic dishes.  You can read more about my storage solutions in a previous post.  Along with storage, there is just not enough room in a small pop up for cooking meals.  And, I enjoy spending time outdoors cooking.  I keep a small card table with my kitchen tools and spices set up next to my little stove.  If you need more room, add an additional table for dishes and serving meals.  Embrace being outdoors and utilizing the space to live outside.

My collapsible dish drainer fits right over my sink when the dishes are done.
A Dutch Oven was also on my list of cooking needs when we started.  My husband purchased me one for Christmas.  This did include the need for a lid lifter, heat resistant Pit Paws, and charcoal starter.  To learn more about my Dutch Oven cooking, take a look at my post on How to Cook in a Dutch Oven.

Finally, determine if you have some wish list or extra items that you can add later or that you can take from home.  Someone gave us an electric skillet.  It is the best thing ever on a rainy night when camping.  Also, maybe you have a waffle iron laying around that you never use at home.  Take it camping and make a new use of it.

An electric skill is so handy for rainy nights.
If you want a full Setting Up Your Camping Kitchen Checklist, you can download this PDF to get you started.  I also have additional checklists on my Camping Lists and Menus Page.  I also have a Camp Kitchen Page with the items we use to cook with in my campsite kitchen.

Setting up your camp kitchen is an easy task.  Think of it as an extension of your home's kitchen.  Plan wisely and you will enjoy cooking at your campsite.  It will be easy and fun.  Also, plan meals that work well with your kitchen set up.

How did you set up your camping kitchen?  What are some of your essentials?  I'd love to hear from other campers about their set up.  Campsite kitchens can be a challenge, but they can be fun and a way to expand your culinary skills.

Be sure to share this post with other campers.  You can share on Pinterest as well as Facebook and Twitter.  As always...