Mom Goes Camping

Best Camping Kitchen Setups (19 Pictures)

Setting up a camping kitchen isn’t difficult. What is hard though is difficult is keeping your camp kitchen organized.  It’s almost inevitable that you will end up with supplies scattered all over the place and never enough room for food prep.  If you go camping frequently, it’s worth upgrading your camping kitchen setup.

I’m a bit of an organizational freak and also a complete foodie.  Here is what I’ve learned about getting the camping kitchen setup right, plus lots of photos of real camping kitchens.


How to Set Up a Camping Kitchen

Ideally, your camp kitchen needs to have three separate stations.  In addition to these stations, you will also need storage bins for food and separate storage bins for plates, utensils, napkins, etc.

Ideally, you also have a separate area for eating so you don’t have to clean off the stations before meals.

The Three Stations:

  1. Food prep station: Such as a table with enough room for veggies and a cutting board
  2. Cooking station: Needs enough room for your stove, cooking utensils, spices, and anything else you need while cooking
  3. Serving station: This is where you will put the food once it’s done. It also needs enough room for plates, eating utensils, napkins, cups, water, etc.  The serving station can also be your eating station.

*The simpler your meals are, the less space you need for food prep.  I usually bring dehydrated meals and have literally ZERO prep to do! Here’s how I make my meals. Also check out these super-easy camping meals.

**If the campground doesn’t have one, you’ll also need a dish washing station.  Here’s how to wash dishes camping and the best collapsible camping sinks.


Bring a Table

The best way to achieve this kitchen setup when camping is to bring a long table or a table with three sections.  Then you can use the campground picnic table for eating.

camping kitchen setup

One area for food prep, one for the stove and another for serving. Food, plates and utensils are kept in storage bins.


Pictures of Camping Kitchen Setup

Here are some pictures of real camping kitchen setups.  Since most people don’t want to lug a massive table with them, you’ll notice that most of them are in a bit of disarray.  So don’t feel bad if your camping kitchen ends up a disorganized.  It takes a bit of practice before you can figure out what works for you.


Portable Camping Kitchen Setups

These camping kitchens use folding tables or portable camp kitchens for setup. See my favorite portable camp kitchens here.

Here’s a camping kitchen using the “3 station” method. It’s organized and leaves the picnic table free for eating.


This is a “chuck box” – a camp kitchen in a portable box. Check out chuck box designs and pictures here.


yoke chuck box

Here’s another chuck box. This one you can buy and don’t have to make yourself. It’s by Yoke.


If you keep your meals minimalistic, you won’t need more than this for your camp kitchen. The top of the coolers can be used for food prep if you don’t mind crouching over.


Having storage underneath the table really makes it easier to keep your camp kitchen organized.


Here, the picnic table is being used for food prep. The stove is on a folding table next to the picnic table. They will have to clear the picnic table before eating.


Here’s a long-term camp kitchen setup. Notice the massive storage containers.  They seem to be critter-proof and waterproof when closed.


Here’s an insane camping kitchen for a large group. There are multiple stations and tons of storage.


Camping Kitchens Using the Picnic Table

A lot of people use the campground picnic table for cooking.   This is great because there will be enough room for everything you need, but it also means that the picnic table will constantly be covered.  You might not have enough room for sitting down.  A lot of campers end up eating standing up because of this.  Consider bringing a separate eating table and chairs if you want to use the picnic table as your camp kitchen.

Because they kept everything so organized and clean, there is actually room for cooking and eating at the picnic table.


Notice the pastic drawers on the left of the picnic table for holding food prep items. There’s also plenty of room next to the stove for serving cooked food.


This is a nice camp kitchen setup with a tarp for protecting against the rain. You’ll notice there isn’t much room for sitting; they will have to clear the table before eating.


I love that this camp kitchen setup has a tarp and lots of storage bins. But the picnic table is so covered with supplies that eating on it will be difficult.


Truck or Hatchback Camp Kitchen Setup

Don’t want to bring a table with you camping?  Here are some cool ways that people used their truck bed or hatchback as part of their camp kitchen setup.


Setting Up a Camp Kitchen without a Table

It’s possible to put your camp kitchen on the ground – but it’s not ideal.  First off, it’s dangerous to have a stove on the ground with lots of people walking around.   It can be a fire hazard if someone knocks the stove over.  Not to mention that you will have to crouch over the stove.

Cooking on the ground also means you can end up crouched over in the mud. See the picture below.

Their food bags and gear are getting muddy because they set up their kitchen on the ground!


But it is possible to set up a decent camp kitchen without a table.  Check out the two setups below.

The platform does three things: keeps the stove level, gives you somewhere for food prep, and keeps supplies off the muddy ground


This camp kitchen is arranged using the three-stations setup (food prep, cooking and serving). All the kitchen supplies are kept in one place so things stay organized. There’s even a crate to sit on so you don’t have to crouch over the stove!

Image credits:
Camping stove” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by @andymatthews,
Chic Camping Mini Van Convert by stheis22, GNU General Public License,
How to Car-Camp in the Rain: 11 Lifehacks  By hchute,
The Ultimate Car Camping Setup by travderose,
Camp Cooking” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by rahook2000,
Cooking” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by C Ames,
Breakfast” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by heathzib,
Camp setup” (CC BY 2.0) by andrewmalone,
Camping setup. Lunch” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie,
Outdoor Kitchen” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Anne Bennett,
Camp Kitchen” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by eeetthaannn,
Camp Kitchen” (CC BY 2.0) by CseaWillis,
camping kitchens” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by herm007,
Camp kitchen” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by islandlife,
“Camp kitchen!” (CC BY 2.0) by Avia55,
Camp kitchen – Beverly campground” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie,
Mama’s kitchen” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Chris and Jenni,
Ulatime camp box By wgreunke ,
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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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