Meal Planning

Troop 28 is always cooking up a storm at its campouts!

Be Prepared !

It's our Motto! To ensure a successful cookout, a patrol leader needs to create a meal plan and be prepared.

Some questions to think about are:

  • How many scouts are going on the trip?

  • How many days will the troop be away?

  • Are there any special food needs?

  • How much time do we have for cooking? (e.g., what other activities are planned during the trip)

  • How will we be arriving at camp? (e.g. backpacking, car, canoe, etc.)

  • What weather do we expect?

  • What is the budget?

Teamwork is a vital part of a trip's success. Patrol Leaders use duty rosters to hand out scout cooking responsibilities.

Key cooking duties include:

  • Head Cook: Determines recipes, assign responsibilities to assistant cook, and prepares meals. Ensures all equipment used for cooking are clean.

  • Assistant Cook(s): Assist Head Cook with meal preparation, prepare hand washing station, and boil water for cleanup.

  • Kitchen Patrol / Clean Up Crew: Wash all non personal utensils and cooking equipment. Each Scout washes his own personal gear. Clear table and secure Patrol box. Oil the Dutch Oven if used. Notifies the Quartermaster of any supplies that are needed.

  • If a fire is required for cooking, the Patrol Leader needs to nominate a Fire Master to arrange a fire pit in accordance with Scout policy.

What's in the Patrol Box

A patrol box is what holds a patrols cooking equipment - stoves, pots, pans, lids, skillet, pot holders, utensils, matches, measuring spoons, cutting boards, paper towels, and a whole lot more.

On each trip we will typically have 1-2 units cooking and therefore will take 1-2 patrol boxes with us.

For a cookout to be successful, scouts need to ensure that their patrol box is complete:

The Three Bucket Method for Cleanup

Troop 28 folls the three bucket (or pot) method for cleaning up after cooking:

Pot 1: Wash pot: Add a few drops of biodegradable soap to hot water. Your instinct will be to use more soap than you actually need, so use sparingly.

Pot 2: Hot-rinse pot: Fill the pot with clear, hot water.

Pot 3: Cold-rinse pot: Place a few drops of bleach or a sanitizing tablet (like Steramine) into cold water.

Minimizing dishwashing time starts with menu planning. Meals that use one pot and few food-prep utensils will leave less mess afterward.

Measuring and Substitutions

I Forgot my Utensils...

  • 1 Open Fistful = 1/2 cup

  • 5-Finger Pinch = 1 Tablespoon

  • 4-Finger Pinch = 1 Teaspoon

  • 1-Finger Pinch (w/ thumb) = 1/8 Teaspoon

  • 1-Finger Gob of shortening = 1 Tablespoon

  • 1 Palm of hand (center) = 1 Tablespoon

Handy Conversions

  • 1 Tbs = 3 tsp

  • 2 Tbs = 1 oz

  • 1/4c = 4 Tbs

  • 1/3c = 5 1/3 Tbs

  • 1/2c = 8 Tbs

  • 1 c = 8 oz

  • 1 qt = 4 c

  • 1 gal = 4 qt

  • 2 c = 1 pt

  • 1 Stick Butter = 1/4 lb or 1/2 c or 8 Tbs

  • 1 lb bread loaf = About 17 slices

  • 1 1/4 lb loaf = About 20 slices

  • 1 1/2 lb loaf = About 23 slices

  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese = 1 cup grated

Help... Substitutions

For when you forgot an ingredient...

  • 1 cup Milk =

    • 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water, or

    • 1 cup reconstituted dry milk + 2 tsp margarine or butter

  • 1 cup Buttermilk =

    • 1 Tbs vinegar + 1 cup sweet milk, or

    • 1/4 cup butter + 3/4 cup milk

  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch = 1 Tbs all purpose flour

  • 1 cup Honey = 1 1/4c sugar + 1/4 cup water

Cooking with Charcoal

How Hot Are My Charcoals?

Place your palm where the food will go over the charcoals. Count the number of seconds you can comfortably hold your hand there.

The 325 Degree


This rule of thumb applies to cooking with a Dutch Oven. But remember, cooking outdoors is never an exact science!

  • Start with the diameter of the Dutch oven e.g., 8 inch, 10 inch, 12 inch, etc.

  • Subtract 3 from the diameter and add that number of coals under the dutch oven.

  • Then add 3 to the diameter and add that number of coals to the top.

  • Tada... this will produce a 325 degree temperature in your oven

  • Example: 12 inch dutch oven: You would use 9 coals on the bottom and 15 on top.

  • Then for every 2 coals added or subtracted, the temperature rises or falls 25 degrees

Dutch Oven Coal Placement

  • Roasting – Place the same number/amount of coals on the lid as under the Dutch Oven.

  • Frying and Boiling – All the heat should come from underneath the Dutch Oven.

  • Baking – Place the coals on the lid and underneath the Dutch Oven in a 3:1 ratio, with the most coals on the lid.

  • Simmering/Stewing – Most of the heat should be from the bottom of the Dutch Oven. The coals should be placed underneath and on the lid of the Dutch Oven in a 4:1 ratio.

  • When Boiling, Baking, Simmering, or Stewing, never place coals under the center of the Dutch Oven. Always place them in a ring around the oven's perimeter.

Food Handling in Black Bear Country



  • Cook meals 100 yards away from your sleeping site, preferably downwind.

  • Use freeze-dried meals rather than more aromatic items that require more simmering and stove-top preparation.

  • Avoid wiping your hands on your clothing; store the clothing you use while cooking with your food stash.

  • Try to avoid leftovers. Store any exposed food item in a zippered storage bag. Double-bagging is a good idea in areas of known bear activity.

  • Use minimal soap and toothpaste.

  • Everything with any kind of aroma goes in your food stash, whether the item is edible or not. So do all pots, utensils and trash, especially food wrappers.

  • When washing pots, widely disperse the rinse water far from your sleeping area, and do so on rocks. Traces of salt may linger and marmots, rodents or goats may come along and shred plants in a search for a food-like scent.

  • Never leave food scraps behind. This rewards animals inclined toward food-snitching. Keep a scrupulously clean camp.

  • Never feed a wild animal, no matter how cute it might be. If you do, you are disrupting its foraging instincts and rewarding unnatural behavior.

  • Do NOT try to retrieve anything any bear has in its possession.

Bear Resistant


  • Use hard-sided, secure-locking food containers, often referred to as bear canisters, are portable food lockers ideal for use in the backcountry.

  • In some national parks, such as the high country of Yosemite, use of such containers is mandatory.

What If a Bear Enters Camp?

  • Don't approach it.

  • If a black bear enters your camp, make a lot of noise

  • Bang pots, wave your arms and shout.

  • If it has some of your items, do not try to retrieve them.

  • Don't corner a black bear; it might respond aggressively.

  • A charge is often a bluff. If a black bear (not a grizzly) should attack you, though, fight back fiercely.



  • Place your food and aromatic items in one or two bags.

  • Find two trees about 20-25 feet apart.

  • Take a 100-foot length of parachute cord, tie a rock on one end and toss it over a branch about 18-20 feet above the ground.

  • Tie one end to one tree trunk. Then tie your food bag or bags to the midpoint of the length of cord.

  • Toss the weighted end of the cord over a branch in the second tree.

  • Pull the cord across that branch until the food bag is suspended in midair between the two trees. Tie off the cord on the second tree trunk. Two 50-foot sections of cord, with food bags tied at their junction, can also work.

  • In some areas, though not many, it's still possible to toss a cord over a relatively high tree branch, hoist up your bags and simply tie off the cord to a tree trunk. This is a big risk in most areas, though. A bear will recognize this old ploy and quickly gnaw through the cord to make your bags drop.