CookingLight diet CookingLight diet
Photo: Getty Images/Hero Images Inc.

Here are 10 problem-solving items for cooking al fresco.

Kaylee Hammonds
May 22, 2018

With warmer weather come the pleasures of the great outdoors. For some, chief among those is the opportunity to dine al fresco. Think about it: what could be more picturesque than a meal with friends enjoyed at a picnic or campsite after a long day of activities? The sun starts to fade, it’s time to open a bottle of rosé, and then...

“I thought YOU were bringing the knives.”

“Where the heck am I supposed to put this glass?”

“We don’t have any salt or pepper.”

“I don’t have matches, why would I have matches?”

Well, any one of those comments is a picnic or campfire meal-ruiner. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of gear to facilitate your outdoor cooking adventures, whether you’re picnicking, camping, or glamping. All of these things might not be for everyone, but each one can help you solve a specific problem.

Amazon

Pretty much no one, ever, feels good about disposing of plastic utensils and plates, and if you’re camping or at a picnic, the trash disposal situation is bound to not be ideal. Eliminate that for good by investing in a set of sturdy enamelware dishes. Pretty much every camping/outdoor site recommends sturdy enamelware, and this set has an added bonus—it comes with cutlery, too. So no one’s going to judge YOU at the campsite, thank you very much.

Amazon

On the same wavelength, there’s absolutely no reason to bring plastic cups into the equation. We like the iconic Duralex bistro glasses, which are pretty much impossible to break, and also pretty enough for a cocktail, if you’re so inclined.

Amazon

Just in case, we’re big fans of these wine stakes that make vino spills a thing of the past. They’re just too clever not to share.

REI

Okay, welp. We’ve finished the food and everything is great, but it’s sort of just gross to pack up dirty dishes. In swoops this collapsible, portable sink. I don't know why I never thought to look for one before, but I can tell you it’s going to change my camping and cooking game.

Amazon

So you’ve gotten the aftermath taken care of, but what about prep? Though you could chop potatoes, slice citrus, and mince fresh herbs before you leave home, there’s just something so satisfying about making a meal outdoors. Cue this portable cutting board that conveniently houses not only a knife, but tongs and a pair of kitchen shears. You’ll never have to try to slice something awkwardly on a paper plate again. (You know you’ve done this.)

Light My Fire

Well, you aren’t going to get any cooking done without fire, but wet matches and forgetfulness can put paid to notions of outdoor cooking. Cue this handy kit that not only won’t self-ignite, but will operate just as well when wet. Double-bonus: It comes with a handy toasting fork for marshmallows or hot dogs.

BioLite

A camp stove can be invaluable, but then you have to deal with buying fuel, make sure you don’t explode things, etc. This model not only burns wood, but your fire will generate electricity enough that you can charge your phone. Our minds? Blown.

Amazon

Using spices in your cooking maximizes flavor, and packs health benefits, too. Cooking al fresco doesn’t mean you have to let that fall by the wayside, especially not when you have this handy tin with magnetic spice canisters. Simply bring along the ones you need—stick them to something metal or tuck them away—and you can add luxe finishes like honey crystals (try them on s’mores!) to your camp dinner.

Amazon

Okay, this is admittedly a tad extra, but who can resist the lure of a hand-cranked blender?! Whether you want to make a smoothie, a quick veggie soup, or batch of margaritas, you have to admit, you’re at least considering it, amirite?

Lodge

You cannot cook outdoors without cast-iron cookware. But the question becomes, what should you get? This handsome Dutch oven from Lodge is worth more than its weight in campfire deliciousness. Though its legs mean that it can sit directly over hot coals, the handle means that you can also suspend it over a fire, if you’re so inclined. The real bonus, though? The lid doubles as a griddle for your morning flapjacks.