FREE Shipping on orders $95+ | Click for details FREE Shipping on orders $95+ | Click for details
The Car Camping Kitchen Essentials Checklist You Need This Summer

The Car Camping Kitchen Essentials Checklist You Need This Summer

Planning an escape into the great outdoors? Car camping is an easier and more accessible way to enjoy a night under the stars, and we sure love the feeling of fresh air on our skin when we’re enjoying a meal. Use this checklist to make sure you don’t miss any of the car camping kitchen essentials you’ll need to make a great meal out in nature this summer. Plus, learn how a car camping kitchen box can save you time and help you stress less!

Stepping away from our everyday routines for a night or two has proven benefits for our emotional and physical wellbeing. In particular, enjoying a meal outdoors can lead to an increase in creative thinking and decreased stress levels. When we cook a meal outside, we’re forced to slow down and enjoy the process. Of course, if the process takes a turn for the worse (say, a forgotten stove), the meal might be memorable for the wrong reasons. Make sure all goes well on your ventures this summer by using our complete camp kitchen checklist.

The Complete Car Camping Kitchen Checklist

From A to Z, here’s what you should pack before you head into nature this summer.

Car Camping Kitchen Essentials

You know those basic items that seem so obvious, it’s easy to forget them? Hey, we’ve all been there. These are items you’ll need to cover the basics when you’re cooking outside.

Stove and Fuel

We had to say it...This is the most essential part of your kitchen! Before you pack it away, take a second to test your stove and make sure that it’s working properly. Sometimes the connection between your stove and fuel canister can degrade, so ensure that it’s still working well. While you’re at it, throw a few extra fuel canisters into your car camping kitchen box.


It’s the smallest things that are the easiest to forget. Even if you usually have a lighter in your pocket or car, double check for one and put in your car camping kitchen box for easy access. Or, if you have a stove with a secure lid, keep your lighter inside of it when the stove isn’t in use. That way, you’ll always have it when and where you need it

Pots and Pans

How many pots and pans you back depends on what you’re cooking, but if you’re just packing car camping kitchen essentials, you’ll want at least one small to medium sized pot and a pan of the same size. If you’re cooking for a group larger than 3, bring a larger set.

Well-fitting lids

The secret to getting your dinner cooked before the sun sets? Lids. Pack a set of lids that match your pots and pans, and enjoy a meal with cheese that’s actually melted! Plus, using a lid will help lower your fuel usage.


Unless you enjoy scrubbing burnt food off of your pans, you won’t want to forget to pack some oil. We are personally fans of coconut oil. It’s highly resistant to high temperatures, which makes it great for cook stoves that often have a harder to control flame. And most coconut oil comes in a jar rather than a bottle, which makes for less spills.

Travel-sized cutting board

Pick a cutting board that can easily fit in your car camping kitchen box. It’ll make for compact storage and reduce the possibility of you forgetting it. Naturally antimicrobial materials such as bamboo are ideal for cooking in nature, where your items might not get as clean as they get back home.


One sharp, well sized knife should definitely be part of your car camping kitchen essentials! To keep your outdoor kitchen safe, choose a knife that has a blade cover. Or, use one that folds down after use, like a medium sized pocket knife.

Car Camping Kitchen

Cooking utensils

Flipping eggs with a fork is pretty difficult, so pack a few cooking utensils to make the job easier. Multifunctional kitchen utensils, such as a spoontula, can help you save space in your car camping kitchen box. 

Can opener

It’s pretty common for many outdoor cooking recipes to have something canned on the ingredient list. Play it safe by always keeping a can opener in your car camping kitchen box.

Mess-free dinnerware and cutlery

Choose plates and cutlery that make cleanup easier but don’t cause unnecessary trash. If you camp often and want camp kitchen dinnerware that will last through the years, consider stainless steel plates and reusable utensils that are easily stowed. Our line of Grubware® on-the-go utensils have been carefully designed to offer easy cleaning and storage, just for life outdoors. Prefer to take something off your to-do list? For effortless cleanup, consider disposable plates and cutlery that are organic and compostable.

Salt and Pepper

Spice it up! Some of your recipes may call for more varied spices, but don’t forget the essentials.

Biodegradable Soap

When you’re cleaning dishes in nature, be aware of the type of soap that you use. Since your dishwater is often going straight into the ground, choose biodegradable soap that is free of harsh chemicals (our go-to is Dr. Bronner’s). Otherwise, you can adversely affect plant and animal life in your campsite area.

Outdoor Pot Scraper

Pot Scraper and Scrubber

Using a pot scraper is a great way to reduce your impact when camping. Instead of sending food scraps into the soil, use a pot scraper to clean your dishes of any cooking residue, and toss it in the trash. This is particularly important in areas where there is a lot of animal life that can be harmful to humans, such as bear country. When food waste is not disposed of properly, your campsite can attract animals to the area, often leading to their relocation or loss of life.


Dry your dishes and hands with a quality travel towel. Stay away from towels made from microfiber, as they shed tiny microplastics into our water sources. Instead, opt for towels made from natural materials, such as this one made by Lava Linens.

Stay organized on the road with a car camping kitchen box

Even if you’re just heading outside for the night, it can be easy to get things jumbled. Pick a specific box that you use for your car camping kitchen essentials. And, if you want to make things even easier, use small dividers or containers to segment your kitchen items by use (like a box that’s got everything you need to do the dishes). Not only will this help you pack, using a car camping kitchen box will make it easier to keep everything where you need it during and after your meals.

Car Camping

With this car camping kitchen checklist, you know exactly what to pack. Now the question is, what will you cook? Check out our most recent camping recipe, created in partnership with Gritty Gourmet.

Missing a few car camping kitchen essentials? Shop our Grubware® line of eco-friendly camping utensils.