Cooking - Eat Like a King in the Outdoors

Eating well in the outdoors can be a big challenge. It can also be the most refreshing, reviving activity you can do after a hard day of exploring and play. For some reason, there's nothing like sitting down after an adventure packed day and digging into a hearty, well cooked meal.

We love tinfoil dinners, dutch oven meals, just-add-water food pouches, and your common 'roast it over the fire' hotdogs or smores.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

How to Enjoy the Perfect Outdoor Meal

Over the years we've learned how to prepare the perfect outdoor meal. We've learned how to plan, what gear and supplies to take, how to prepare for the weather, how to stay safe and how to ensure we get back home safe.

Adventure Story: We Cooked the Whole Campout!

...We got to the site and set up the camp kitchen. I caught myself standing and staring at the mountain of food and supplies. We were going to eat like kings!

...We did cook and clean almost the entire campout...

Read the Story

Below you'll find the following topics:

  • Tips for cooking the perfect outdoor meals
  • How to build the perfect camp kitchen
  • Top outdoor cooking product reviews
  • Best outdoor cookingresources

If you're like us you'll love the trail and outdoor cooking will become second nature. Let's get started.

Outdoor Cooking Tips

Over the years we've learned how to cook delicious outdoor meals. We thought we'd list a few tips to consider for your next outing:

Basic Tips

  1. Plan ahead - even if you decide to go on a spontaneous hike, take a minute and plan just so you're prepared. If your hike is more involved, spend the time you need to make sure you're ready.
  2. Make a menu - before you go camping, make a list of the meals you'll cook, the ingredients needed, and the cooking gear you'll need to have.
  3. Gear up - make sure you have the right gear and supplies. Backpacking trips allow for very specialized gear while car camping allows for an entire camp kitchen.
  4. Cooking over fire - patience is required for campfire cooking. The best cooking temperatures are found by cooking over coals, NOT the flame. We build up a good size fire and let it burn down. Then we cook or roast over the coals.
  5. Cooking in a dutch oven - before leaving for a campout, determine the temperatures you'll need for your meals. Briquets cook at a certain temperature and adding the right amount produces a certain oven temperature during your cooking time. 
  6. Cooking with a backpacking stove - make sure you have enough fuel for your outing. Be sure to stir the food regularly because backpacking stoves produce quite a bit of heat at the bottom of your pan or cup.

Advanced Tips

  1. Dutch Oven Tins - when dutch oven cooking, place a tin on the ground and the charcoal in the tin under the dutch oven. It keeps grass from burning and keeps the heat focused on the oven.

Recommended Outdoor Cooking Gear

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Survival Kit - 1 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Survival Kit - 2 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Stove Fuel

All-season camp stove fuel

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Outdoor Cooking Menu Ideas

We've cooked all of the following meals in the outdoors and we've had great success:

Open Flame

  1. Hot Dogs - be sure to cook them over the coals, not the flame for predictable, even roasting.
  2. Tinfoil Dinners - be sure to cook them over coals. Make sure one of your ingredients is cream of chicken or mushroom so the food isn't dry.
  3. Roasted Marshmallows (S'mores) - be sure to cook them over the coals, not the flame for predictable, even roasting.
  4. Corndogs - One of my son's friends cooks corndogs in tinfoil for every campout.

Dutch Oven

  1. Chicken Pot Pie - we learned to pre-cook the biscuits so they aren't doughy on the bottom.
  2. Mountain Man Breakfast - order matters...cook the sausage/bacon first, then potatoes, then add cheese at the very end. Eat in burritos to avoid dirtying more dishes.
  3. Chicken Alfredo - precook the chick to make it go faster.
  4. Pizza - check the bottom frequently, they cook fast.
  5. Calzones - check the bottom frequently, consider flipping them.
  6. Cobbler (peach, mixed berry, blue berry, or strawberry) - use Sprite soda instead of sugar and water.

Backpacking Stove

  1. Mountain House Meals - get the 2-serving sizes. Lasagna is a crowd favorite. Dehydrated eggs never reconstitute fully.

Camp Chef (or other stove)

  1. Pancakes - try and heat the griddle evenly and don't cook until the griddle is warm.
  2. Bacon and Eggs - griddle bacon and eggs is so delicious!
  3. Hamburgers - it's hard to go wrong with hamburgers.

Outdoor Foods

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Mountain House Emergency Food Pouches - 2 Servings

Emergency dehydrated food storage 2 servings

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Wise Food Storage 1 Month

Outdoor dehydrated food storage for 1 month

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Mountain House Emergency Food Cans

Emergency dehydrated food storage for 60 Servings

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Safety First

We all have different risk tollerances. As I've gotten older I've consciously slowed down a lot and take fewer risks. I've seen guys with life-altering injuries who can't enjoy the outdoors any longer. I talked with a man this week who has messed up his knees and joints so much he can't go on a simple hike. That can't be me!

When we venture out, we need to keep in mind that we have future outdoor experiences to enjoy so we need to get home safe after every one. Our chances of survival and safe return increase with a few principles:

  1. Prepare before you go out
  2. Take adequate first aid supplies - just in case
  3. know your limits and opt for safety over risky activities.

Having the right first aid supplies handy can help a lot. Make sure you have the right supplies for the activities you're doing. 

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Survival Medical Guide

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First Aid

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First Aid Kit - EDC

Personal Everyday Carry IFAK First Aid Kit

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First Aid Kit - Tactical

Tactical, Portable IFAK First Aid Kit

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Shop All First Aid Kits

The Camp Kitchen Checklist

Backpacking and car camping offer two very different cooking options. We'll break up the camp kitchen suggestions based on the two types of outing.

Backpacking Kitchen

  • Jetboil or light weight stove
  • Stove fuel
  • Small pot and pan (resist the old-school aluminum mess kits - everything sticks to them)
  • Light weight mess kit (we like the modern plastic options)
  • Utensils
  • Camp soap
  • Lighter

Car Camping Kitchen

  • Bin
  • Skillet
  • Spatula
  • Cooking spoon
  • Plastic plates, bowls, and cups
  • Plastic utensils
  • Lighers
  • Paper towels
  • Stove (bring fuel) or dutch oven (bring briquets)
  • Tarp to protect from the sun or other elements

Top Rated Products

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Rubbermaid Lockable Bin Container

Sturdy, lockable, plastic industrial totes/bins for survival gear

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Sterilite Bin Container

Sturdy plastic industrial totes/bins for outdoor gear

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Top Outdoor Cooking Product Reviews

I'm a former Scout Master. I've used or seen others use just about every outdoor product you can imagine. When it comes to outdoor cooking, there are some pretty tried and true products you can rely on. Here are some of the outdoor products we recommend taking on all outings.

Click on the image to read the review or click on the button to purchase.

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Camping Cookware/Mess Kit

Modern cookware mess kit with accessories

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Biodegradable All Purpose Soap

Clean your hands, body, dishes and other items with biodegradable multi purpose soap

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Ideal primary option for rapid fire starting

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Ferro Rod with Striker

Great secondary option for fire starting, especially when wet

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Swiss Army Pocket Knife

The Swiss Army Knife is a classic EDC multi-tool that covers everything.

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Nalgene Water Bottle

Personal water bottle for trail activities

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Pocket Tissue

Individually packaged pocket tissues and toilet paper.

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Toiletry Kit

Toiletry kit for the trail or camping

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All Time Best Sellers

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Personal Water Filter - Sawyer

Affordable, long lasting personal water filter and purifier for the trail

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Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool

The most popular, reliable outdoor multi-tool on the market

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Rechargeable LED Headlamp 450 Lumens

Durable, rechargeable 450 lumen LED head lamp for hands free trail use

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Hydration Bladder

2 Liter leak proof hydration bladder for trail daypacks and backpacks

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Shop the Gear Catalog

Cooking Resources

Being prepared with some survival skills, trail information, and weather forecasts can make your hike relaxing and help you get home safe.


Don't get lost! Find the right map for your area. We recommend reviewing the map BEFORE your embark on your adventure. Get a feel for the topography, water sources, trails and roads, etc.

Choose Your Map


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Survival Handbook

Layman's survival field guide for the outdoor survival

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Time to Hit the Trail

We love our trail time! We hope your outings this year are memorable, relaxing, full of adventure, and safe. 

We'd love to hear about any memorable stories you experience. Submit them to us and if we feel the story matches the site we'll publish it.

Gear up, prepare, and hit the trail! Enjoy!

1This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
2 As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.


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