In this article, we look at how to set up your camp kitchen so that you have somewhere to cook, sit, eat, all safely away from your tent…
Cooking when you are camping needn’t be daunting, but it does require a bit of preparation.
Why you need a camp kitchen
If you have good weather, you could get away with using nothing but a little gas stove.
However, if camping is something your family intends to do often, it makes sense to get yourself the gear to make things easier, as well as handling most of what the British weather can throw at you.
get yourself the gear to make things easier
Don’t cook in your tent
You may have plenty of space to cook inside your tent. But don’t.
Generally cooking inside your tent is frowned upon. It’s not worth the risk.
It’s not worth the risk.
- Although most tents have fire retardant fabric, there’s still a fire risk.
- Tents only have sufficient ventilation for sleeping not cooking. Cooking in your tent increases condensation. This could make your tent damp, or worse, harmful carbon monoxide could build up.
- Grease from cooking could ruin your tent fabric or water retardant coating of your tent.
- If you have a gas stove, it’s advisable the gas cylinders are kept outside of your tent.
There are a few exceptions. Some tents have special cooking pods with added ventilation, and sometimes you can cook in an open canopy extension as you have lots of ventilation (though keep any cooking away from the walls of the canopy).
Not convinced? Just watch a few minutes of this video.
The best place is to create a camp kitchen outside of your tent. But you can’t buy camp kitchens, so just how do you do create a camp kitchen?
Our camp kitchen setup
To help you get an idea, here’s our current camp kitchen setup.
I say current, as we’re always improving and adapting.
The Camp Kitchen Shelter
The first thing you’ll need to get organised is your camp kitchen shelter. A kitchen shelter is typically made by putting up a tarp shelter.
Creating a Kitchen Shelter with a Tarp
Using a tarp is one of the best ways to provide protection from the elements, and if you’re not used to setting up a tarp, it’s a good skill to learn.
Tarps can be configured in a number of ways, depending on weather conditions and available space. We often setup ours right outside our tent.
Don’t forget a windbreak
Another important part in creating a shelter is to use a windbreak. This can keep the wind away from where you are cooking (which can help conserve fuel) but (and perhaps more importantly), a windbreak can block off areas where you don’t want people to walk and helps keep little people away from the stove.
We’re currently using an old folding Coleman windbreak, which is on its last legs.
helps keep little people away from the stove
You can often find a windbreak that matches or complements your Outwell, Vango, or Coleman tent. Click here to view some windbreaks on Amazon.
Setting up your cooking area
Cooking is what your shelter is all about after all….
Your gas camping stove
We camped for many years using just a simple single hob stove and a campfire. It is possible.
However, most families will find it easier with a two hob stove.
If you don’t yet have a stove and are unsure what to get, then click here to read our guide.
You will need a level surface for your stove, and we’ll cover that soon.
Using a fire pit
A campfire is another place to cook. Some campsites don’t allow them. Some campsites do but will usually insist the fire is off the ground.
For the last few years, we’ve been using this Fire pit/BBQ & Tripod, though it’s starting to get a bit battered after a few years of camping.
Getting something like this enables you to have a small fire off the ground, cook over it, or use it as a BBQ. It also works well as a good place to cook food in a Dutch Oven.
You wouldn’t place a fire under your tarp, but you could have a fire close by.
If you use something like this fire pit for a small BBQ and your tarp is high enough, you could use the BBQ under your camp kitchen shelter. Just use common sense.
There’s also another benefit: the smoke, even from a small BBQ, can help keep mosquitos and midges out of your camp kitchen shelter 😉
Kitchen Storage & Tables
You will need somewhere to store food, both perishables and things like tins. You will also have kitchen pots and pans, utensils, plates, cups, and cutlery to store somewhere. Here are a few options.
The Kitchen Table
You will need a sturdy and level platform for your gas stove, and ideally with enough space where you can serve up food, place hot plans, etc.
There are a few different kitchen table designs around. One that comes with a windshield is an added bonus.
We have been using this Outwell Richmond kitchen table for a great many years. The Outwell Richmond also has a lot of storage.
In addition to the table for our gas stove we can store pans in it, food (tins, etc.), and even a large rubbish bag (in a separate zipped compartment).
Another useful item we have in our camp kitchen setup is an Outwell Kitchen Storer.
This takes the plates, cups, cutlery, utensils, and even things like tea towels, washing up sponges, rolls of rubbish bags, kitchen foil….and lots more.
It’s a useful bit of kit that makes transporting all this stuff to and from the campsite really easy.
We have 3 different coolboxes. Two we use regularly depending on the type of camp or journey we have. (Click here to see our comparison of the different coolboxes).
We avoid having an Electric Hookup (we find EHU too restrictive on where we could camp), and have found using a really good coolbox, plus refreezing ice packs, has worked well for us.
We have a collection of tables. Within the kitchen, we are currently using a very cheap plastic table and sometimes an aluminium slatted table. These are the work tables.
The aluminium table is good for hot pans, as well as using the slats to help dry the dishes! (see below)
Some campsites have wash-up facilities, others don’t, and sometimes they’re too far away to bother going!
We’ve been using the Outwell Collaps washing up bowl that’s been good for washing up in our camp kitchen, or taking stuff to the campsite’s washing up facilities. And it collapses down small for transport too.
In fact, there’s a lot of good items in Outwell’s Collaps range, which we reviewed here.
A bit of glam
Your camp kitchen doesn’t need to be just functional.
Solar powered fairy lights and some tea-light lanterns can soon glam up your camp. 😉
This post is part of a series that teaches you what you need to know to start family camping.
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