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Fire It Up: 3 Steps to Make Every Outdoor Meal a Hit

Follow this plan from a veteran camp cook to make delicious meals efficiently.

Fire It Up: 3 Steps to Make Every Outdoor Meal a Hit

Propane stoves like the Camp Check Pro 14 and Pro 16 make preparing meals outdoors easy, as long as you stay organized. (Photo courtesy of Camp Chef)

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Whether you're camping as part of a fishing or hunting trip, or camping just to spend more time outside during the warmer months, meals are always a memorable part of the activity.

Ask any kid to name the best part of camping, and there's a good chance the answer will be either hotdogs or marshmallows cooked over the fire. Adult tastes tend to lean toward meals that are a bit more involved (not that there's anything wrong with a roasted 'dog on a stick), but camp cooking doesn't have to be a laborious process.

Brooks Hansen, public relations manager for Camp Chef, is a master of outdoor cooking. He's put together meals for folks ranging from celebrities to ranch hands, and you should see what he can do with a pile of mule deer shanks. Hansen uses a three-step process that makes his meals as efficient as they are delicious. Follow his lead to elevate your status as camp cook without wasting valuable hunting or fishing time.

"The first thing to consider is how many people will be in your party," said Hansen. "That determines how you should set up the camp kitchen."

The number of mouths you're feeding will dictate everything from the size of fire or stove to the amount of ingredients you need. While there's no harm in bringing extra if you have space and don't have to carry it far, backpacking or canoeing trips are a different story. You'll need to carefully plan ingredients and components of the camp kitchen. Hansen recommends, however, to err on the side of large when considering a stove.

"People overlook the size of the stove they need," he said. "If you have room, don't be afraid to take a bigger stove. It will make your camp cooking experience that much better."

For a group of two to four people, Hansen recommends the Camp Chef Pro 14 with two 30,000 BTU burners and a cooking area 32 inches wide and 14 inches deep. If serving larger parties, step up to the three-burner Pro 16 stove with more than 600 square inches of cooking area. More compact options include the Everest and Rainier stoves, which are adequate for up to four people.

"The second step is to organize your kitchen in an efficient way that will make it easier for you to prep, cook, serve and clean," said Hansen. "I like to be organized and make sure everything has a space."

For that, Hansen relies on the Sherpa Camp Table and Organizer, which consists of four removable storage bags inside a folding frame to keep utensils and ingredients within easy reach. Small utility bins, stuff sacks and gallon-size freezer bags packed inside a utility tote is another system for storing essentials and keeping them handy.

"Third,” Hansen said, "don't forget to have fun. Prep as much as you can at home before you head out."

Chopping vegetables, packing meats in marinades and other prep work accomplished in your home kitchen reduces the number of utensils and containers you have to take with you to the campsite. It also cuts down on the amount of work you'll have to do just before a meal, leaving you with more downtime to enjoy the outdoors.

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