There's a certain nostalgia when it comes to spending the night around a campfire, seeing who can roast the best marshmallows. Unfortunately, that cozy, flannel-coated feeling tends to fade after the second day in a row of eating cold hot dogs and leftover s'mores for breakfast.
Thankfully, man does not have to live on packaged franks alone when spending time in the great outdoors. As long as you keep these six tips in mind, we promise it's still possible to make an amazing meal on your next camping trip.
① Prep Everything—and We Mean Everything—in Advance
It's hard enough chopping onions in a real kitchen, let alone with a blunt knife on a rickety picnic table. Do as the Whole Foods butchers do and prep your ingredients —or better yet, your entire meals—in advance. Carry rib-sticking stews and hearty chilies in storage-friendly Ziplocs or stackable deli containers (wayfair.com, $25 for 30), and come sunset, all you need to do is heat them up.
② Keep the Meals Simple
As much as we like showing off our Iron Chef chops, culinary theatrics should be left at home once you pull out of the driveway. You're family won't judge you for sticking to easy, one-pot meals like braised chicken thighs, but they will judge you for making them eat trail mix for dinner after your campfire soufflé experiment goes wrong.
③ Or, Don't Even Cook at All
You've already got enough on your, ahem, plate dealing with mosquito bites and the constant reapplication of sunscreen. Pack a selection of cured meats and a few wedges of hard cheeses (both of which can survive being out of the fridge), and break out that bottle of wine hiding in your sleeping bag (just don't forget the wine key).
④ Bring Only the Bare Necessities
Unlike your favorite nonstick pan, a high-sided cast-iron skillet (surlatable.com, $36 for a 12-inch pan) doesn't need any coddling, making it the perfect outdoor cooking companion. Equally capable of frying morning bacon, heating up dinnertime braises and, yes, searing hot dogs, it needs just a wipe down once you're finished.
⑤ Pack Your Cooler Smartly
Freezing any meat cuts you plan on cooking will keep your cooler frosty once packed, and, with a little planning, they will be perfectly defrosted by the time you're ready to chow down. You could also consider sous-viding them in advance—they'll be more shelf stable, you won't have to worry about packing them with raw produce and, come dinnertime, they'll require just a brief warm-up. Either way you go, it's never a bad idea to keep a thermometer (surlatable.com, $10) on hand; just to make sure your ice chest is staying at a fridge-worthy temperature.
⑥ Take the Backup Plan
Whether your idea of the perfect picnic is cooking in the wilderness or sipping a summery cocktail at a sidewalk café, we’ve got everything you need to spend your Summer in the Wild. Let the outdoor entertaining begin.
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