Cooking with your family can be a great way to enjoy yummy food, spend time together, and create lasting memories. And when it’s nice weather, why not cook outside?
If you’ve never cooked outside before or it sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s not as hard as it might sound. All you need to do is make some preparations, and you can enjoy fresh air and sunshine on top of a delicious meal.
In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of cooking outside as a family and some best practices. Let’s get started!
Benefits of cooking outdoors as a family
Cooking outdoors with your family has many benefits. For one, it makes it easier to involve everyone. For example, you can give your kids different tasks without worrying about crowding the kitchen.
Cooking outdoors can also teach your kids to be self-sufficient. It can provide a sense of accomplishment and confidence and inspire them to be creative as they learn to cook different recipes.
Finally, cooking outdoors is a great way to get out of the house and into nature. When you spend all day working and eating inside, having a meal in your backyard can be a nice change of scenery (and it’s better for your stress levels and overall well-being).
Now that you know the benefits of cooking outside, here are eight tips on how to make your next outdoor cooking experience with the family a success:
- Choose where you will cook
Deciding to cook outside is the first step. Next, you need to choose where exactly. Will you cook in your backyard with your outdoor kitchen? Or are you ready to get away on a camping trip and cook over a campfire? Other options include picnicking at a park, grilling on the beach, or tailgating before a sports game.
You can make your outdoor meal as simple or elaborate as you want. The choice is yours. Just make sure to follow any local regulations regarding cooking outside so you don’t get into any trouble.
- Plan ahead
Once you’ve settled on a location, it’s time to start planning. Start by making a packing checklist of everything you’ll need to bring: cooking gear, utensils, ingredients, etc. You’ll want to think through this ahead of time so you don’t end up forgetting something that’s essential to the meal. This can help make everything run more smoothly and prevent your outdoor meal from turning into a disappointment.
- Keep the recipe kid-friendly
When it comes to choosing a recipe, try to keep it relatively simple and something you’re already familiar with. That way, it’s easier to have your kids help, and there’s less risk of something going wrong. Some examples of simple meals include hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, and kabobs.
Whatever meal you choose, try to keep the ingredients simple by opting for canned and packaged ingredients that are easier to keep and transport.
Of course, you’ll want to get your family to agree to the meal. So get their input and approval and pay special attention to any dietary or allergy restrictions.
- Prep food at home
Before you head outside, prepare the food. For example, you could chop vegetables and fruit so you don’t have to worry about doing it outside where it might be less practical. The same goes for meat that needs to be marinated or seasoned and dough that needs to be mixed. If possible, complex food-prepping steps should be done inside. This way, you can get straight to cooking when the time comes.
- Stay organized
Once you have all you need ready to go, put your supplies into a clean bin to carry with you outside. You can then lay your gear and ingredients out in an orderly manner, keeping your workspace clean so you don’t get food dirty (or worse: food poisoning).
Bring plenty of water to wash and wipe up messes and safely store and transport any perishable and non-perishable items. You wouldn’t want anyone to get sick.
- Involve your kids
While cooking, be sure to involve your kids. This is your chance to assign them age-appropriate tasks, whether that be monitoring the grill, setting the table, or looking for firewood. It’s not cooking with your family unless everyone has a part to play. And trust us, they’ll appreciate feeling like they have a responsibility.
- Have fun
Of course, a major reason to cook outside is to have fun. So don’t stress too much. Enjoy cooking and eating in the fresh air. If something goes wrong, be patient. You’re bound to run into a few setbacks. Just try to make the best of it.
- Clean up
Lastly, once everyone is done eating and the meal comes to an end, don’t forget about clean-up. This is especially important if you are camping and are on somebody else’s property. The goal is to minimize your footprint and “leave no trace.” This shows respect for the environment that you’re in and makes it more likely that you can come back.
Adding it all up
At the end of the day, cooking outdoors doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you think ahead and make the necessary preparations, you’re bound to have a good time.
Just remember to choose a location, make a plan, choose a kid-friendly recipe, prep the food at home, stay organized, involve the kids, have fun, and clean up. That’s it! If you can do all that, you can expect to have a successful outdoor meal with the family.
One last note: To really take your outdoor cooking with the family to the next level, make sure to plan some type of dessert. It could be smores over the fire, a peach cobbler in a Dutch oven, or just some premade cookies. It’s the perfect way to wrap up a great meal, and your kids will love it!