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Take command of your adventure
 
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By:    On: 2011-10-10

Ok, I’ll admit it – one of the drawbacks to camping is the dirt.  No matter where you camp, there’s going to be dirt in some form – dust, debris, sand, soil…something – and if you get a windy area, you’re practically doomed.  I have never met anyone who enjoyed the thought of cooking a meal amid flying grime and tree castoffs. 

Fear not!  I am going to give you some tips on keeping yourself and everything else clean in your outdoor kitchen.  While there is always going to be dirt when you’re outdoors, there are ways to avoid it getting into your food.

Screen Tent

A screen tent is a great way to keep leaves, bugs and anything bigger than dust out of your kitchen.  If money is an issue, look for a lower end EZ-Up tent; most have optional screen walls.  I use a screen tent composed of pvc pipes that we put together and a screen canopy which slides over the top, hooks into the legs, and has two zippered doors.  Make sure you get a tent large enough for the space you’ll need to cook, eat and move around.  I have found a 12x12 (feet) tent works best for my family’s needs; most EZ-Up tents are 10x10. 

When setting up your kitchen inside the tent, make sure your stove and any other heating elements are clear of the tent walls.  You want to cook the food, not burn down the campsite.

Table Covering

I know this may seem like a vanity thing, but a table cloth isn’t just for making a pretty table.  Picnic tables provided by campsite sit outside year-round, collecting every fashion of bug and dirt.  I don’t know about you but I am not a fan of my plate sitting on a pile of built-up yuck.  Even if you use your own tables a covering is a good idea to protect against any bacteria or dust that settles on the tabletop when the table isn’t being used.  I like to take the tablecloth off the table before I turn in for the night.  It gets a good shake and then is folded and put away for the next day.   Our table is inside the screen tent but it never hurts to be precautious.

Storage

When they’re not being used, keep all dishes, cutlery and food items stored in lidded containers.  I prefer the Sterlite plastic shoe boxes for cutlery, condiments and the like.  They are inexpensive and work wonders.  Larger plastic storage containers are great for dishes and cups and plastic totes are perfect for food storage.  Use whatever works best for you, as long as you keep it covered.  Some people even use Space Bags for their storage purposes.

A side note on using totes for storing your food: it’s a good idea to put your food in your vehicle if you can.  I learned the hard way that squirrels and chipmunks can – and will – chew through a screen tent and plastic tote boxes to get to food.  If a small critter can do that kind of damage just imagine what kind of chaos a big animal can cause.

Wet Wipes and Disinfectant

I have said before that we always camp at sites which provide running water, which helps with keeping dishes and everything else clean.  However, we also keep a stash of baby wipes, disinfectant wipes and anti-bacterial hand gel with us.  While I don’t suggest using these on anything you’re going to be cooking with or eating off, I will say they’re great for cleaning hands before cooking and eating.  All of these things can be found at dollar stores; I have even found personal-sized bottles of hand sanitizer on key chains which is great for hooking to kids’ backpacks on hikes.

 

See?  There are ways to keep clean when you’re on a camping trip.  I hope these tips will help you banish any fears/qualms/worries you might have about camping and cooking outdoors.

What tips do you have to share?  Drop me note!

Happy camping,

Jen

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