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No matter what your resources are it seems cooking for a crowd while camping can be an arduous task. Even if it is just the family typically you are out enjoying nature all day and the last thing on your mind is what is for dinner and when do I have to start making it. For example, our last trip we took we met up with friends up at Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee. It was spring break, so we had a good crowd that consisted of 8 adults and 9 children. All the children are under 10 years old so none of the children wanted to eat what the adults were eating for dinner or breakfast, and the adults certainly didn’t want cereal or hotdogs again. So, managing all of this for 3 meals a day out of your camper can be difficult and unpleasant. Not to mention the kids are not always good of recognizing they are hungry until they are “hangry”. Therefore, we find ourselves being creatures of habit because we don’t want to spend all our time cooking and just grab something that is easy. We are there to relax too. To avoid resenting the meal making process, consider these options to go along with your normal campfire grilling next time that you go camping or if you are just starting out.
Crock Pot– I know that it sounds absurd to be taking a crock pot to the campground (it gets worse below) but honestly, it’s a great way to do meals. Consider this, wouldn’t it be great if you could cook two of your meals before you even leave the house? We love to have chili for dinner and my wife’s world-famous breakfast casserole the following morning. For the chili I just make the ground beef before we leave home and store it in a gallon size zip-lock bag and put it in the drawer of the fridge in the camper or just leave it in the cooler. Then just before lunch or dinner, add all of the other ingredients into the crockpot, turn it on and then go on with your day. The same goes for the breakfast casserole. I just cook the sausage at the house and then we throw the hash browns, eggs and cheese in the night before when we go to bed and breakfast is ready when we wake up. A word of advice, don’t forget the crockpot liners. It makes clean up a breeze.
Electric Portable Smoker– I know, it’s over the top. Before we got into our 27” trailer we were all crammed into a 16 ½” teardrop with very little storage space. We had to decide whether or not to bring towels each trip so the concept of hauling an electric smoker was out of the question. Now that we have upgraded in size I act like a I can’t afford NOT to bring the extras. At home I have a Big Green Egg and I absolutely love to smoke meats on it. The issue is, it’s the large size and quite honestly, I am the only one in the family that eats what I cook on there. Occasionally my wife will eat the ribs I make but she usually maxes out on one or two. So, the effort involved in getting the coals set up and the temperature just right sometimes outweighs the desire to do it. Incidentally, I had just purchased an electric smoker online because we had a camping trip coming up with the in-laws and I wanted to smoke some ribs for everyone. I had not even used the smoker yet, so I figured I’d give it a try at home first in order to make sure I had it figured out. It came assembled in its own carrying case and literally took about 5 minutes to get set up the first time because I had to remove some zip ties they had used for shipping purposes. A quick scan of the directions and I was literally cooking at my desired temperature in 10 minutes including adding wood chips. It did a perfect job and so I have added to my “must take” items each time we camp. This same version is also available in propane.
Outdoor portable stove– Thankfully the trailer we upgraded to has an outdoor kitchen. I absolutely hate to cook inside when camping. It’s cramped, the cooking makes the camper smell and it makes you feel anti-social when everyone else is outside waiting. So do yourself a favor and consider buying a two-burner portable propane stove. They are so easy to setup and use, and the storage need is minimal. When we had our teardrop, I used mine all of the time. I even went as far to purchase a “camp kitchen” table and rack to place it on by frankly any table, including the one at the campground will do.
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