The Camping Bins – Part I: Kitchen Edition
Packing for a camping trip is very daunting. The lists grow and grow as you make notes of what food to bring, the clothing to pack, items needed to cook with, clean with and items to keep you entertained. To go camping for only a weekend almost does not seem worth the effort. To camp for a week takes so much preparation and packing that you wonder if you will even feel rested during the get-away.
Having a couple camping bins packed and ready to go at all times can lift a lot of the stress around leaving for that woodsy getaway. My family has three such bins to ease the "pack up and go" of camping; the Kitchen Bin, the Bedding Bin and the Everything Else Bin. These bins never get unpacked after the camping is done, getting stored in the garage at home, and can be easily thrown into the back of a vehicle when it is time to head out, making the whole experience that much more achievable.
It is easy to get carried away when creating these bins and it’s also just as easy to leave out extremely useful items, making you feel frustrated and angry when you arrive at camp instead of prepared and relaxed. To help you pack your own bins I am going to run down ten of the most useful items we pack in the Kitchen Bin.
The Kitchen Bin:
1. Tin Foil
Buy the biggest role of tin foil you can purchase and always leave it in your Kitchen Bin. You will be surprised how often you’ll use it. Tin foil is one of the most important cooking tools when cooking over a fire. There have been camping trips where we have cooked all our meat over a grill and everything else gets cooked in tin foil. It is also useful to keep items warm, as cooking over a fire can often prepare the food at different intervals.
2. Cooking Pots
We opted for a small pot set where the lids could be used as frying pans. It doesn't take up much space but gives us the option to use the pot as a mixing bowl for pancake mix or salads. It can be easy to purchase pots bigger than you will need. Small pots that insert into each other will often do the trick for most meals. There was even a time, prior to our small trailer, where we used the larger of the two pots for washing dishes. Visit Cookware – to find a variety of cooking pots, coffee makers and other useful items when camping.
3. Reusable Dishware and Cutlery
Paper plates are super nice when it comes to eliminating dishes, but inventory of them must be checked every time you pack your camping bins, which is what we are trying to avoid. They can also take up a lot of unnecessary room. Having a small number of reusable dishes that can easily stow into a bin gives you the peace of mind in knowing those items are already packed and don’t need to be replenished. Sure, you’ll have to wash them between uses, but it's much better to have dishes that need washing than to arrive at camp and find out you only have four paper plates left. Once again – check out our Cookware section for many reusable dishware and cutlery options!
4. Lighters and Matches
Keeping similar items together will make accessing your bins and completing tasks easier. The number one reason you will want access to a lighter or match is to cook. The last thing you want to do when trying to get coffee made in the morning is go looking for matches or a lighter. Keep your "ways to make a fire" gathered with things that require fire. See our Camping Accessories for fire starting options.
5. Extra propane bottles
If you camp with a propane stove, you will want to make sure you have an extra bottle or two of propane in your kitchen bin. If you cook with a stove like a JetBoil, making sure you have backup JetPower bottles that fit this stove should also be in your kitchen bin. Likewise, think through your methods of cooking and have back up ways to fuel your stove.
6. Cooking Utensils
This is an area that can get out of hand really quickly. You think you need every handy device at home in order to properly cook while camping. The truth of it is a pair of tongs, a flipper, a decent kitchen knife, and a large spoon will get almost any camping cook done. If you are the type of person to rely on canned soup while camping, make sure you have a can opener in your bin!
7. A Coffee Maker
We have made coffee in three different ways while camping over the years. There is the old school ‘cowboy’ coffee percolator (which can double as a water kettle), the Turkish percolator and the French press. When choosing your coffee pot choose one that requires little effort, something that can even sit over the fire to get the job done. The cowboy coffee percolator is a great option, because it doubles as a kettle while taking up no extra space. Our family favorite both at home an camping is the French Press – check out our selection of french presses as well as other coffee making/drinking options: Stanley, JetBoil, Primus (coffee/tea kettle and press) and BioLite.
8. A Kettle
The kettle will probably be the biggest and most awkward thing to pack, but the most useful. Heating water for coffee, dishes and personal cleanup will keep the kettle in use the whole time you’re gone. Choose one that can withstand the heat of a campfire, as you do not want to always have to run your propane stove for hot water. Having hot water always ready to go makes the camping life that much easier and cleaner. We have also used our camping pots as a source of boiling water. Visit Cookware – to find a variety of kettles and cooking pots.
9. Cooking Oil
This could be considered part of your food, but not often packed in a cooler. We like to take only one cooler full of fresh food. Keeping cooking oil packed in your camping bin means it’s one less thing to think about when you are grocery shopping or packing for your trip. Often it will be the only thing you need to make sure those veggies wrapped up in tin foil turn out perfectly! Coconut oil is also a great option for camping, as it hardens in colder temperatures, assuring it will not leak out of its bin, unlike olive oil or other liquid cooking oils.
10. A Spice Kit
Salt, Pepper, and Montreal steak spice are usually all we take when we camp. Camping food can get boring quickly when you forget the spices at home. Prepping a small container with spices and tucking it away in your kitchen bin will assure you never leave these valuable items behind!
When leaving the campground and packing up the bins, we make lists of what needs to be replenished. The bins get restocked when arriving home as part of the unpacking process. This assures that next time we go camping, whether spontaneously or planned, the camping bins are already ready to go. A well-stocked Kitchen Bin alongside your cooler of food should complete your packing when it comes to meals!
What sort of things would you put in your Kitchen Bin? Did we miss anything vital that goes with you every time you camp?
May God bless you and your families,