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A guide to the secrets of a perfectly pared-down Camp kitchen

Packing for your first camping trip can feel daunting. How do you shrink your home kitchen into a fraction of car boot space? How will you cope without the conveniences of a microwave? Fear not, camper! This guide unveils the secrets to eating like kings outdoors with just the barest of essentials. Read on for our top tips for simplifying your outdoor cooking gear - a guide to essential (UK) camping kitchen must-haves.

Camping kitchen essentials
Camping kitchen essentials

We all know the most important part of camping is the food! Cooking outdoors and the challenge it brings are among the most enjoyable aspects of any camping trip. Camping offers a unique chance to rediscover the joy of food in its purest form, mirroring the rawness of our surroundings. Unlike our daily lives where meals mimic our technology-driven existence, becoming intricate and complicated. Camping food embraces simplicity, camping strips away the layers of unnecessary complexity. Gone are conveniences of running water and food processors. Camping meals are true to their core ingredients, and this simplicity isn't a limitation, but a liberation! Without the usual kitchen arsenal, we can reconnect with the essence of food preparation, making even the most basic meal a delicious adventure.

Here's how to pack your traveling kitchen, and we start with heat...

Hob or Oven? When we cook at home we have the luxury of both. Replicating these heat sources is the first consideration. The Campingaz Bistro 3 Stove is by far the cheapest and most convenient ring burner on the market - you can pick one up for under 20 quid. The fuel, Campingaz® CP250 gas cartridges, are readily available, and cheap too - a couple of pounds per canister! They are even possible to buy at petrol stations. A one-ring stove system is ample to create a decent menu of one-pan fry-ups, or one pot-stews, to get you through a weeks holiday with kids.

If you have more space the addition of a barbecue will open up the way to evenings spent relaxing in the open. It may not always be possible to have an open fire, but if you enjoy cooking over flames read our Recommended campsites where fires are allowed.

With that in mind, keeping meals simple, geared to cooking on one-ring or a BBQ, are to be the easiest way to eat well outdoors. If you're looking for the ultimate cooking hybrid then a Cobb Oven is an ingenious travelling oven, BBQ and grill all-in-one. You can even roast a whole chicken on a Cobb, which in my book is the holy grail when camping!

Cooking with fire
Cooking with fire

The next question is when does 'Essential' become 'Non Essential'?

That's usually down to what you use at home and how much of it can you sacrifice. As a rule of thumb, pack one large frying pan, and always take a non-stick pan to avoid the dreaded baked-on scrambled egg, and other stuck-on related crimes. Two saucepans (or two pots) one small, and one large is plenty. I would never sacrifice packing a large heavy pot because of the pure satisfaction it gives me making a huge stew, and ladling it out for everyone sitting around the camping table at dusk.


Enamel always. I’ve been building my enamelware collection for years now and camping is my favourite place to break it out. Although, it's brilliant, because it doesn't actually break! Enamelware remains the most durable and practical choice for camping. You can drop it, heat food up on it directly, and it comes it all sorts of shapes and sizes. You can buy new enamelware from brands like Falcon, and I tend to mix it new bits with my vintage treasures.

Travel BBQ for space saving
Compact BBQ for space saving


We take real cutlery. We've never found camping cutlery that can match the strength of a real knife and folk. Although it's much heavier than disposable cutlery it's worth the weight penalty for both environmental reasons, and enjoyment mode.


Again, Enamel Mugs. Hot drinks quickly get cold when you’re eating outside, and we love to put mugs right over the stove or fire to keep warm. They won't break like ceramic or china mugs. They also double up as tumblers and won't fall over like glasses with long stems.


Enamel so you can use it as a DIY steamer. You can get plastic space saving collapsible versions, but whilst they can stack better, they're not as versatile and can melt when hot.

Enamel love
Enamel love


The most essential utensil is tongs - the other - a bottle opener! Long handled tongs will stop you burning yourself and help you move big cuts of meats. Don't forget to pack a sharp knife for slicing, chopping and peeling. Peelers only offer one use so you can save space by making-do and peeling with a knife. Also, a can opener, wooden spoon, grater, and a ladle if you're feeding a crowd.

Chopping board

Worth every inch of space, doubling up as a work surface. Plastic chopping boards are a good light weight option, folding ones are even better. For anyone with a questionably fanatical attitude to camp cooking (like us), try the Console by Frankfurter. A portable, modular container station for chopped ingredients, spices and tools. Although the Console is not official camping equipment, it will make life around your camp kitchen easier. You can store the leftover chopped food in the containers and stack them neatly in a cool box. Don't forget a cool box by the way!

Tip: always pack a decent size chopping board
Pack a decent size chopping board & Console for chopped veg etc.

Don't forget...

Bqq briquettes, firelighters, matches, foil, rubbish bags, and some lunch boxes for leftovers and to store opened cans of food.

What to pack it all in?

The next consideration is how to squeeze the contents of your kitchen cupboard into the car (alongside the surfboard, bike, tent, you name it). Well, if you've not packed the kitchen sink it should all fit in a reasonable-sized Ikea box. A large plastic box with a lid can sit outside your tent and not get rumbled by badgers or insects (ants!), saving you living space in your canvas abode. Also, it can double up as a prep table, or stool.

Last but not least

A stack of greasy saucepans in a plastic washing up bowl and cold water can very quickly ruin the magic of a good camping meal. So when you choose your camping recipes, avoid meals that require unnecessary washing up. There's nothing worse than taking a trip over the campsite facilities and rushing to do the dishes before it get too dark to find your way back to your tent! Remember to pack tea towels, washing up liquid and a scourer.

What if you forget to pack something crucial?

If you're camping in Cornwall and have forgotten something essential for your camping holiday fear not! There are several really good camping shops in the county, from small independent traders to large chains. For St Agnes and Perranporth areas try Aztec Leisure for all your camping needs. For Bodmin and St Austell try Three Zero camping shop. In the Newquay area try Newquay Camping Shop or Preppers Shop. In Truro there is a large Cotswold Outdoors.

Failing that, it’s fine to borrow the occasional tool or camping essential from a neighbour on the campsite.

Enamel plates for the win
Enamel plates for the win

Our favourite Camping hack

If we are to take one type of food camping, it's always mediterranean inspired. The scents and flavours and flexibility of recipes (plus the health benefits) capture everything that is alluring, and easy about cooking outdoors. These superfood ingredients include, pasta, rice, tinned pulses and lentils, tinned tomatoes, tuna, olive oil, lemon (Jif Lemon Juice is a great when camping!), garlic, paprika, oregano, chilli, cumin, and basil. All versatile ingredients, and flavour bombs that can brighten up any dish come rain or shine - hopefully shine. We usually decant our spices and herbs into a reused pill case. Adding a different spice or herb for each of the 7 days helps to save limited space we have in the car. And that's the key to family car camping - minimalism.

If you love camping but hate packing Ysella will help you go camping without the hassle of taking the kitchen sink. Try our luxury Bell Tent hire service. We set up your Tent at your chosen campsite ahead of your arrival. After your stay we pack it all away for you, no camping equipment needed! Add kitchen equipment, a stove, a BBQ and food hampers to your hire package, and forget everything you've just read above!

The basic time-honoured pleasure of camp cooking
The basic time-honoured pleasure of camp cooking


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