Summer activities that include food cooked on the grill make for some of the best memories — and satisfied taste buds. It doesn’t matter whether you’re gathered around a gas or charcoal grill or an open campfire. The good times really get going when it’s time to eat. Even though it’s a familiar tradition, there are a few things you can do to make your outside feasts and festivities go more smoothly. Here are a few of our favorite tips and camping supplies for cooking outdoors.
There’s nothing more disheartening than arriving at your campsite far from home — and stores — only to realize you’ve forgotten the charcoal. And we don’t even want to think about what could happen when the fire literally gets too hot and you have no way to put it out. So come prepared with plenty of charcoal and a fire extinguisher.
Remember all the uses a bucket has? You can add to that list by putting a bucket jockey inside one and decking it out with your grill tools. Not only will it keep everything within easy reach, if it starts to rain you can head for cover without wasting time wrangling all your supplies.
For some, cooking outdoors over an open fire is the highlight of camping. But getting low to the ground to light the fire isn’t all that fun when there’s dirt and gravel to scrape your knees. That’s why a kneeling cushion is an absolute must. It won’t absorb water, and has a handle so it carries easily, too.
Organizing your cooking area is just as important on the road as it is at home. Set up a minimalist kitchen starting with a folding table for a quick work surface. Stash a bucket with a lid to quickly corral garbage. Park the cooler within arm’s reach and use a fabric storage drawer for odds and ends like disinfecting wipes.
You can take your kitchen area to the next level with a utility cart. The wheels make it easy to move your outdoor cooking setup wherever you need it. The cart’s open storage will keep condiments at hand when you need them and out of the way when you don’t. And you can use the wooden top for chopping and cutting — may we suggest a few lemons and a large jug to mix everything in for a dose of instant refreshment?
Don’t forget to carry along a few serving trays. They’re relatively compact, so you won’t feel like you’re packing too much. Cutting boards can serve a dual purpose — slicing up cheeses and fruit, and as a tray once you’re done prepping. Pack a couple of large bowls, too. They can be used to collect scraps while you’re cooking, and hold cooked food when everything is hot off the grill. That’s what we call true picnic-style dining!
Cast iron is an old standby when it comes to outdoor cooking for good reason. The material can withstand high temperatures directly in a campfire or set over grill grates. Brew coffee or tea using a cast iron teapot. Or try making a delicious berry-based compote by adding sugar to a mix of fresh blueberries and cherries in a cast iron skillet. Dessert, anyone?
Now that everything is fresh off the grill, it’s time to sit down and eat. Add a tablecloth, succulents and pretty solar lanterns to your picnic table. Even disposable plates and plasticware feel a little fancier when you’ve taken the time to upgrade your campsite dining experience by dressing up your place settings. (We have some ideas on how to create a lovely outdoor table setting here on The Home Depot blog.)
We can’t say that cleaning the grill is our favorite chore, but it’s a necessary one. This handy cleaning block is like a pumice for your grill! It’s made of recycled glass, so there are no chemicals to worry about. After you’ve scooped or dumped out the ashes from your portable grill, you may want to flip it upside down inside a trash bag before putting it in your car. After all, the goal is to leave the ashes behind, and keep the good memories, right?
For more ideas on cooking outdoors, summer activities and more, follow our Summer Activities board on Pinterest.