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How to pack the ultimate camping kitchen – An unhappy camper’s guide to happy camping

How to pack the ultimate camping kitchen – An unhappy camper’s guide to happy camping

I am an unhappy camper surrounded by a family who loves to camp. Usually I get my way, and we stay in self-catering cottages or hotels when we travel. Or we compromise and go glamping – where we don’t have to set up our own tents and there are decent bathrooms.


So it was quite a shock to my system to be thrown in the deep end in the Canadian Rockies with rough and ready REAL camping. No power, no beds, no roof over our heads. In some places even no showers or flushing loos. And while we survived through weeks of living wild in the forests and mountains at the other end of the world, our family ate like kings, slept like babies and had the time of our lives.


One of my favourite camping avoidance excuses at home in South Africa is that we don’t have decent camping gear and to purchase the works would cost more than years of happy self-catering chalet holidays. We were delighted to be able to rent all our camping gear in Canada, and learned that it is absolutely not necessary to have all the bells and whistles and fancy purpose-made camp site stuff that fills the shelves of outdoor and camping shops. The folk over at Rent-a-Tent Canada have perfected the art of camping in comfort with the bare minimum that you need to schlep along.


Here is what we discovered needs to be in your camping kitchen – no more, no less – and you can pack most of it right out of your kitchen at home:


1. Cooking

  • Double gas oven – Braaiing is all fine and well, but if you are camping for a while it is extremely handy to have a stove. You can boil your water, cook pasta, fry up eggs, heat hot dog sausages – you name it, at the touch of a button. Make sure to take a few extra gas canisters too.
  • Cooler box – keep all your perishables in a cooler box with a massive solid block of ice – which takes a couple of days to melt and will keep things cool for a while. The larger the block of ice, the longer it will take to melt.
  • 1 deep frying pan
  • 1 large pot with lid (that can fit the frying pan too)
  • 1 small pot with lid
  • Stove-top kettle
  • Chopping board


2. Crockery

Pack the following in a clothes basket – it is super easy to carry around and is breathable meaning no mildew.

Per person:

  • 1 plastic flat plate
  • 1 plastic bowl
  • 1 plastic cup
  • 1 plastic / tin mug
  • 1 plastic wine glass per adult


3. Cutlery

Pack the larger items in your washing basket and all smaller items in a suitable Tupperware:

  • Large sharp knife
  • Small cutting knife
  • Large serving spoon
  • Medium serving spoon
  • Spatula (egg lifter)
  • Soup ladle
  • Braai tongs
  • Salad tongs
  • Lighter
  • Matches
  • Can opener
  • Wine opener

Per person:

  • Knife
  • Fork
  • Spoon
  • Teaspoon


4. Washing up

  • Plastic basin
  • Drying cloth
  • Washing cloth
  • Sponge scourer
  • Washing brush
  • Washline (to tie up between trees)
  • Ziploc with pegs
  • Dustpan and hand brush (to sweep the tent floor)


How easy is that?


We were amazed at the types of dishes and variety of meals we were able to prepare and eat with this one basket of goodies, for weeks on end.


So, that’s one less excuse for not going camping!


Do you have any camping kitchen must-haves to recommend? If so, please leave a comment below.

Read about our Canadian Rockies camping adventure in our Canada Diary


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