Going on a camping trip doesn’t have to mean roughing it, particularly when it comes to cooking.
Even if you’re not glamping (i.e., glamorous camping, with a lot of little luxuries and supplies), it’s easy to get creative with minimal equipment at your disposal.
(Looking for more non-food hacks? Here’s an awesome post on 41 camping hacks, including candle stakes and easy lanterns made of Mountain Dew, baking soda and peroxide.)
We asked chefs and other experts for their best camping tricks and recipes for creative meals al fresco.
Here are 8 to try:
Employ orange a-peel.
Oranges make more than a great trail snack. Cut in half and eat the orange, and then use the peel to hold other dishes while they cook in the fire bed.
Pick up a cheapie grill.
Campfires not your style?
Chef Kyle Rourke at Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore., recommends the Weber Smokey Joe Grill, which costs just $20 and fits in your trunk.
“It’s a great little grill perfect for camping,” he says.
Prep at home.
If you’re bringing meat to cook over the campfire, start it at home, says Jason Bailin, president of Whipped & Beaten Culinary Works.
For great ribs, marinate overnight. “The day before you go camping, braise them for about 1.5 to 2 hours in the marinade,” he says. “This will make them very tender and help preserve them.”
Put in a refrigerated pack until campfire is ready; cook on direct heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every few minutes.
Bring a trash can.
Not for trash – for cooking.
Home cook Melissa Moraja grew up camping in New Hampshire, and used metal cans as “ovens.”
Place the can on its side and put it over the fire. “We baked pizzas and chocolate cookies in it by putting the can over a hot burning log fire,” she says.
Re-use aluminum cans.
Empty cans can become cooking vessels.
Fill with meat and veggies, or bread dough, and then top with foil.
Bake in the fire bed.
Pack aluminum foil.
Aluminum foil allows you to cook a wide variety of dishes.
Tear off a sheet, load with food, wrap, and cook in the fire bed.
“Because the meat is smaller, it cooks quicker, and they are so much fun for the whole family,” Bailin says. “Use long sticks to grill the kebobs.”
Stick cooking also works well for items like bread (wrap dough around the stick).
Don’t forget that food can spoil quickly in the summer heat.
If you’re bringing items from home, consider freezing food like meat so it will stay fresher longer.
Put frozen jugs of water in the cooler to keep other perishable items cold, without wasting space on ice packs.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.