How to Pack Food and Kitchen Supplies for Camping

Packing food for camping

How to Pack Food for Camping + Tips

Eating delicious food outdoors is easily one of the best parts of camping. In an ideal world, you’d arrive at your campsite with a plan of what you’re going to eat when you get there, and simply be able to light a fire and get it going. After that, you could just eat and enjoy yourself!

While that scenario may sound impossible at first, it actually isn’t too difficult to make a reality. All you need is a bit of planning and strategic packing. Follow the tips below to make packing food for camping much more organized and easy!

Plan a Menu:

This is one of those tips that’s obvious but not always easy. It’s always easier to postpone the planning for later, but then you’re just setting yourself up for stress.

To make things easy, make/take what you and your kids will eat. Will the kids eat sloppy joes at home? Make that! Do they skip on chili? Leave that idea at home!

While everything tastes better when you’re camping, chances are they’ll still skip over the things that they don’t like at home. I have gotten used to making a Dutch Oven pizza for Saturday night, and we ALL love it! Easy for me to do, the kids love it, and we’re all full afterward!

For some easy, family-friendly recipe ideas, here’s a list of great camping recipes that we enjoy!

Pre-make as much as possible.

Once you have a menu planned, this is tip #1 if you want to keep your camping meals as simple as possible. The more you can prepare ahead of time, the less you have to worry about cooking at the campsite!

I always pre-make my Friday dinner at home so that I only have to reheat it when I’m setting up camp…this has saved me a LOT of time and frustration!

Check out all of these freezer meal ideas that you could use! Some other great recipes for preparing ahead for camping are these make-ahead campfire breakfast burritos, this summer sausage foil pack, and these 3 cheese foil potatoes.

Breakfast burritos in foil on the campfire

Ration Snacks:

It’s always a good idea to have some to-go snack options for the times when you don’t feel like making anything or you’re too busy to cook! Snacks are good for the road as well.

To make snack time even easier, pre-pack snacks for each day in a zip-lock baggy with everyone’s names on their snacks. Saves time and energy of having to figure out the rationing of food.

Pack Dry Goods in a Sack:

Pack all of your dry food in sacks so it’s easy to pack and carry to the picnic table. (We do a lot of camping in bear country, so putting the food away at night is a must…and the sacks come in VERY handy.)

I snagged mine at IKEA for $1.99 each, so if you’re close to one, go grab a couple and put it with your gear. Otherwise, any cloth grocery bag with handles works well.

Keep Food Cold with a Frozen Jug:

Packing your cooler can be tricky if it’s hot outside or if you are going for more than a few days. I use an old gallon jug and fill it up with water and add a 1/2 cup of salt to the jug. Then pre-freeze your jug, set it in the middle of the cooler, and you’ll have a solid block of ice for your whole trip.

I will grab one bag of ice to put on the top, but this is the only ice I pack with because the jug of ice keeps everything nice and cool! If you want to split the jug, use (2) half-gallon jugs and add 1/4 cup of salt to each.

Note: Make sure to leave some room at the top of the jug since the ice will expand as it freezes.

Freeze Your Water to Keep Drinks Cold:

Having a good supply of beverages (especially water) while you’re camping is essential. To utilize your water bottles to the fullest, pre-freeze them. Then, place them in a separate drink cooler and use them to cool off juice boxes and soda.

By doing this you don’t have to pack as many ice packs AND your water will be nice and cold when you’re ready to drink it.

Packing Camping Kitchen Supplies

Next up after packing food for camping is packing the actual supplies you’ll need to cook that food! What you need will ultimately depend on what you’re planning to cook, but here are some basic recommendations:

First, I recommend having a tote of all your kitchen camping utensils ready to go. I have a tote in the garage with everything I will need ready to go so that I’m not having to gather all of the cooking supplies I will need. You can gather this slowly (I’m always picking up old utensils at yard sales)!

Some of the things that I have on hand in the tote are:

  • Dish soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knives
  • Serving utensils
  • Pots & pans
  • Matches
  • and the list goes on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Along with the things above, I pack all of the paper goods I will need in a separate tote bag. It’s perfect for having next to the table. I typically will bring plates, bowls, napkins, paper towels, and plastic utensils for all of our meals.

Make a DIY Dishwashing & Handwashing Station:

This is something that a lot of people forget about! Dishwashing and handwashing stations are a must in my mind, even out in the wilderness!

For dishes, you can simply wash them in a tote or washbasin. I simply use this and it works great to wash in one and rinse in the other!

For the handwashing station, you could technically just use any source of water and some soap. If you want to get a bit fancier, you can  build yourself a cheap DIY handwashing station like this.

For DIY camping ideas, check out our list of DIY Camping Hacks.

Final Thoughts

If you’re new to camping, it may take a few trips before you get all of this stuff really down pat, but after that, it’ll become second nature. Have fun with it, focus on the essentials, and don’t worry if you forget something! Just remember it for next time ๐Ÿ™‚

Any food packing tips we missed? What kitchen essentials do you always bring with you camping? Leave a comment below and let us know!

More tips and tricks for camping:

How to pack food for camping


  • Hi Cathy – Thank you for the great camping info. I was a late-comer to camping but I love it more than anyone in the family! I always said that my version of camping was the Marriott. Boy, was I wrong! Best times ever! Appreciate you and the Fab Frug Ladies!! ๐Ÿ˜˜

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