What cooking supplies and meals for 4 days in a state park cabin?
August 4, 2018 8:19 PM   Subscribe

We (2 adults, 1 kid) are going to spend 3 nights in a barebones beds only cabin in a week. There is a grill/fire pit. I'm borrowing a camp stove. What do we need to bring to eat and prepare food?

There are a few diners and cafes nearby, so I suspect we will do at least one meal there each day. There is a nearby market. There is ice for purchase. We have a very large and a small cooler.

There are also supposedly ample clams and oysters and crabs for catching and eating. I know nothing about the catching of these other than I need a license. Should I bring a big cooking pot for these?

I need help packing though! I haven't done camp cooking in decades. Please tell me in great detail what to pack... No detail is too small - like bring salt! Bring a sponge and dish soap.

- What and how many of pots and cooking utensils? What about an electric kettle for coffee and boiling water?

- Is it easiest to buy paper plates and disposable eating utensils?

- What sort of non perishable things can I bring? Oatmeal for breakfast seems to be a good idea. Is there a good way to bring a little olive oil or do you pack it all?

- Is using the big cooler as a pseudo fridge a good idea? Then we could do peanut butter and jelly for snacks, butter.
posted by k8t to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming this is a drive in? I always bring big breakfast meal stuff: eggs, bacon, pancakes etc and then have a big dinner and plan on people snacking or eating cheese sandwiches for lunch. Good, easy cabin dinners are burritos (rice, beans, cheese, meat or similar) and pasta or rice with stuff that you can pre-make and keep in the cooler or hotdogs, burgers buns or some form of egg drop soup with stuff in it. For 2 days your cooler will keep everything cold as long as you're not in Arizona, in which case a quick ice run will be needed at some point in the middle. The trick is to have two coolers one you open a lot and one that you only open like four times all weekend.

If you have a coleman two burner stove bring a skillet and a saucepan and a kettle and you should be good. One insulated mug each, one set of silverware each.

I would not assume there is electricity unless you know for sure there is the regular kettle is a safer bet.

Bring a lot of snacks and stuff for around the campfire and cocoa. I doubt you will want the hassle of packing up and going into town once you get settled in but if you run out of food have one adult do a pizza run.
posted by fshgrl at 9:00 PM on August 4, 2018

peanut butter and jelly for snacks, butter.
None of these require refrigeration on a 3 day camping trip, so that frees up cooler space for things that actually need it.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:15 PM on August 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Can you clarify whether you'll have running water? If not, bring a bunch of water containers (extra for washing water).
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:37 PM on August 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't rely on catching food for anything other than a special treat. You can cook oysters over a campfire on a grill (and now I want oysters. Damn it).

I recently did a 3 night camping trip, so here goes. You can use dry ice in the cooler, but that freezes everything solid. We used ice and ice packs and it lasted well enough. Any food that can be frozen ahead of time should be (sausages, for example). It will last longer. You can freeze sticks of butter. Don't put anything in the cooler that doesn't need to be cold (no bread or fruit). We had a couple of saucepans (one big one for pasta and a smaller one for everything else) and a frying pan (bacon, sausages, eggs). Bring butter, oil, AND SALT. We forgot salt. Turns out, salt is critical. Milk lasted well, but if you are worried and want milk anyway, you can get shelf-stable milk that doesn't require refrigeration.

A french press works great for coffee. We boiled water in a saucepan.

Paper plates worked fine for us, but we brought metal utensils. Everyone gets one fork, one knife, one spoon, and one cup. Wash those bad boys. The first day you'll wash them with soap. The second day you'll rinse them out and say "Good enough". We also did plastic cups for the kids and for wine glasses (wine tastes better out of a plastic cup).

Knife to cut bread. One sharp knife for anything that might need a sharp knife.

Bring chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers for s'mores. They are disgusting, but mandatory. Long skewers for s'mores or to cook hot-dogs over the fire. Buns for same. Stock up on junk food (potato chips, etc.). You are on holiday. Live a little.

Paper towels.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:38 PM on August 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

We camp with friends of ours twice a year for 3 nights at some local state parks. Here's what we do:

-Breakfasts: Fresh fruit, pop tarts, string cheese, juice.
-Lunches: Lunchmeat on burger or brat buns, chips.
-Dinners: Burgers, brats, occasional steak or chicken breast. Chips or pre-packaged potato salad for sides. A can of beans can be opened and heated right over the fire as well.
-Plenty of sodas and some snacks for daytime munching - crackers, cookies and the like.

Kitchen-wise, we bring:
-Knife and fork for each of us (camp sites have running water so easy to clean; ymmv) and an extra knife for cutting fruit
-Paper plates and paper plate holders
-Paper towels
-Campfire burger basket - great for brats and burgers. Sits on the fire pit grate right over the fire.
-Tupperware to keep food items in so they don't get wet in the cooler
-Salt, pepper and your spice of choice to rub on your burger or steak
-Oven mitt because the burger basket and bean cans gets hot
-Hand sanitizer
-Small kitchen towel

We use a big cooler for the beverages, and a slightly smaller cooler for the food which contains the meats/lunchmeats, cheeses, condiments, fruits that we prefer or need refrigeration, and perishable sides. We have found that getting an ice block works so much better than bags of cubes when looking at how long they last, but it seems very hard to find ice blocks these days. Someone always runs into town for ice each day so an extra 10lb bag each day keeps us cold through the weekend.

We keep the non-refrigerated food and all of our kitchen gear in one large rubbermaid tub like this one, and keep it in the car so it's not accessible to the critters (raccoons and deer, in our case). You can throw whatever you need in there that doesn't require refrigeration - oil you could put in a small ziploc or tupperware container. (Or, just bring the bottle.)

Essentially, everything that isn't our actual camping gear fits into one tub and two coolers (plus the burger basket).

What we have seen others in the group do:
-Camp stoves
-Pot for beans or veggies to heat on a camp stove. (Again, we have accessible water for washing.)
-Crack a few eggs and some other desired omelette-type ingredients into a ziploc. When ready to eat, simply heat the ziploc in a pot of boiling water.

We just wash the utensils with water and a sponge. We don't use pots/pans but others do, they just wash them in the available water too. Paper plates and other paper waste just goes right in the fire.

Helpful non-kitchen tips:
-We have a pair of collapsible trash cans and bags; one for non-fire trash, one for recyclables.
-We bring a supply of adult-size cleansing wipes to 'shower' each day. I bring them to the outhouse each morning for my morning 'business' along with that day's change of clothes. Helps keep the BO and swamp ass away! (But keep the used wipes out of the outhouse pit - put them in the trash. Park maintenance will thank you!)

posted by SquidLips at 9:42 PM on August 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

Running water outside the cabins.
posted by k8t at 10:14 PM on August 4, 2018

If you're going to take bacon, cook it at home. It can heat up fine in a pan, and bacon grease is terrible to deal with while camping.
posted by sacrifix at 10:51 PM on August 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've been cooking out of airbnbs/barebones motel kitchenettes the past couple of weeks (work travel) and I took the opportunity to revamp my mobile kitchen box:

Cutting board
Mini santoku knife
Kosher salt (I have 4oz deli dressing containers that I pack stuff like this in)
Bottle of mixed garlic and onion powder
Bottle of mixed powdered peppers (ancho, chipotle, cayenne, white, and smoked paprika, plus cumin)
Handful of takeout packets from That Drawer: soy sauce, sriracha, Taco Bell Fire sauce (don't judge), ketchup, Chinese mustard, duck sauce, honey, plus some takeout chopsticks
The shortest can of cooking spray I could find at my usual store (so it would fit in my kitchen box), which was coconut oil.
Smallest bottle of grocery store olive oil
Box of foil
Bundle of ziplocs from gallon down to snack size
Dollar store spatula + big spoon
Two silicone trivets (hot pads, trivet, padding, frisbee, etc)
Small tongs (if I was going to be cooking open fire I'd bring the longest grill tongs I had)
Two dish/hand towels and a 4-pack of cheap washcloths
Scrub Daddy sponge
Decent pair of scissors
Corkscrew-bottle opener
TSA-approved travel flip-top bottle with about an ounce of Dawn in it

Additional equipment:
I ended up buying a dollar store 12" nonstick pan, which is what I used to take camping in college; smear the bottom with a thin layer of Dawn and it won't scorch so bad
At least one 2-3 pack of disposable aluminum cake pans for open-fire roasting (for your group maybe 6 total)
Some gladware etc to use as workbowls and storage
Yes, disposable but biodegradable plates
You can bring real tableware, it's easy to wash
A very cheap dishtub or litter box from dollar store
S'mores sticks

PB singles
Bacon bits
Ramen or similar
Shelf stable/parcooked rice and quinoa (or pasta)
Tortillas (much less squishable than bread, and you can make sandwich wraps or hot dogs wrapped in sprayed foil), lots for a group that size
Bread loaf, high-preservative
Two pouches of "skillet sauce" (in my case, one Frontera Grill taco sauce and one Campbell's lemon garlic sauce, but if I hadn't been in a motel I would have brought tikka masala or butter chicken sauce)
Squeeze-squirt Splenda
A mixed baggie of individual water-enhancer powders and/or Mio-type squeeze-squirt water enhancers, including some Propel in case there was an electrolyte situation
Big bag smokehouse almonds for snacks
Bag of tortilla chips
Other salty snacks like Chex mix and chips
If you like them on nachos, one small can of pickled jalapenos

If camping:
one (or scale up for more than 3-4 people) can chili for chili dogs
package cornbread mix (make cornbread *pancakes*, do not try to cook a whole cornbread through) or pizza dough mix (quick-kind, not long-rise) OR make in advance and freeze
pancake mix (store-bought or make your own OR make in advance and freeze)
cereal (it's vacation, get the shittiest sugariest delightful kind OR those single-serve boxes that kids love, it's still one of my favorite memories from childhood camping)
S'mores makings, obvs (I like Hershey's miniatures, actually, for these)
1 can pinto or black beans

Semi-cold supplies (need to be chilled after opening):
squeeze mayo or ranch for sandwiches/chips
shelf-stable milk type liquid (if you get the little UHT milk boxes for cooking, or the 1qt boxes for cereal mornings, it saves a ton of cooler space)
Cold brew concentrate coffee (hands down the kindest thing I did for myself)

Cold supplies:
butter (I prefer good cultured butter like Kerrygold or store-brand, it won't freeze hard and it's fairly slow to liquefy)
Salami and pepperoni for grazing/sandwiches
decent firm sliced cheese for grazing/sandwiches
Bag of shred cheddar for chili dogs and sandwiches
Squeeze bottle of sour cream, or small container

Pack in frozen, and pre-cooked if possible in most cases:
Good jumbo dogs or sausages for chili dogs
Oiled and basic-seasoned chicken (I like boneless skinless leg quarter or thighs, but if you do breasts you need to pound them out to parm or milanesa/thickness) pressed flat in baggies
Ground beef/taco meat precooked and frozen flat in gallon bags
Any frozen acceptable green vegetable, like broccoli or green beans

So, breakfasts will be
Breakfast 1 when your enthusiasm is still high: eggs and pancakes
B2: cereal and maybe scrambled eggs
B3: cereal

Sandwiches, or wraps wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals of the fire + chips/salty snacks + cookies

D1: Nachos (taco meat, shred cheese, beans on tortilla chips, cook in covered cake pans and finish with jalapenos and sour cream)
D2: chicken in sauce cooked on an actual fire, served over shelf-stable rice/pasta and the green veg
D3: chili cheese dogs over cornbread or pizza dough pancakes, roasted in cake pans
+ smores and cookies

Freeze as much as you reasonably can, because every hard-frozen thing in your cooler keeps your cooler cooler longer.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:45 AM on August 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Since block ice is often hard to find, freeze your own gallon containers of water before you leave.

Paper plates will make your lives easier if you hate doing dishes/ don't have hot water, but if you decide to use them, get thick ones like Chinette so they're not collapsing on you. (They can be burned in the fire.) I find plastic utensils unsatisfactory as well as earth-destroying. If you're not in bear country, you can sorta half-ass your dishwashing; wiping things down with a paper towel and deciding that's good. My family facilitates this by giving each person a color-coded plate, bowl, and silverware that they're responsible for. If the water is just an outdoor tap, you'll want a dishpan. When you boil water for coffee/ hot chocolate, boil extra for more thorough dish washing.
posted by metasarah at 5:48 AM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

For non-smores treats, a hobo pie maker, some bread, butter, and canned pie filling is great. We just did that at our cabin this week and it was as great as I remember from childhood.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:50 AM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Starbucks makes tolerable instant coffee - seriously.
I like bringing thin (rollable) nylon cutting boards for prep and to use as plates. I've been fine using one medium sized pot for three people.

There are plenty of very decent instant rice and grain dishes... It's nice to supplement with grilled veggies and/or some meat. I prefer things that can be mixed together... Or things that can be rotated from fire/pot right to the plate so that you're eating for a while as you cook
posted by entropone at 6:53 AM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Don't forget whatever you are going to use for starting a fire in the grill or pit and grill equipment you may need like tongs.
posted by jadepearl at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2018

My friends and I pre-make breakfast burritos and freeze them ahead of time. Wrap them in tinfolil and heat on a stove and grill and you have a quick meal with no clean-up but tinfoil and your paper towel napkin.
posted by ITravelMontana at 2:09 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

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