The Ultimate Kitchen Setup for Your Off-Grid Basecamp


If you’re like me and love to enjoy your cabin property, even while it’s not yet built, you know the value of a good base camp.  It’s totally worth setting up some of the luxuries of a cabin in a basecamp.

One of the luxuries that I find most effective is having a good kitchen.  Of course, we’re not going to build a full outdoor kitchen for temporary use.  But setting up some nice amenities can mean the difference between a stressful excursion and a peaceful outing.  That’s why I’m going to share with you some tips from when we setup our temporary outdoor kitchen.

Set up Enough Food Prep Space

One of the hardest things about preparing food while camping is the lack of prep space.  Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or making a stew you need some space to lay things out.

Think about the type of food you love to eat when you’re up at the cabin site, or out camping.  What amount of space would be nice to have to prepare those foods?  It’s probably not practical to set something up that’s as big or as involved as what you have at home, but don’t sacrifice more than you have to.  The better your experience at your cabin site, the more you’ll love visiting the site and later, the cabin.

This is really pivotal to setting up the whole outdoor kitchen.  You really need to figure out what the layout of this kitchen can be.  If you want a covering for your kitchen area, which I highly recommend, you may be limited by the size of a canopy or two.  So plan your layout accordingly.

For counters, you can actually keep things really simple and just use the top of the cabinets that I’ll tell you about in a minute.  But if you want a more solid counter top, you can pick up a slab of butcher block from a local hardware store or watch for someone selling a used countertop locally.  Just lay it across the cabinets and you’re good to go.

Include Lots of Kitchen Storage

I like to go up to my cabin as much as possible.  Even when in the construction stages, it’s a fun place to spend a weekend.

What I don’t like is having to pack up tons of stuff every time I go.  That’s why I like to have a lot of lockable storage at my cabin.  Particularly for cooking and eating supplies.

The best kitchen cabinets I have found for a temporary base camp kitchen are actually wide filing cabinets.  You know the ones with wide drawers?  If you get the kind that lock they make for good storage where you can actually leave things like dish soap, paper places, utensils, and other similar stuff behind.

Just don’t leave food products other than canned food behind.  You will attract wildlife and you may find your kitchen destroyed next time you go to your cabin site.  If you really want to leave some dry food, like hot chocolate packets or graham crackers, make sure you close it up in zip-lock style bags so that animals can’t smell it.

Once you know what to use for kitchen storage, you can start planning out your layout.  That’ll help you know how many of these cabinets you need and how much countertop you’ll need.

Set up a Good Propane Stove

In one section of my kitchen I like to set up a good propane stove.  The one we like to use is this one on Amazon because it’s the most like using a kitchen stovetop.  In fact, I really like cooking on the propane because it heats up and cools off quickly.

Get a Dutch Oven Table

Right next to the propane stove, I like to have a Dutch oven table.  But that’s because for baking or slow cooking, I really like to use a Dutch oven.  And using a table allows me to use the Dutch oven without bending way over or kneeling on the ground.

This Dutch oven table on Amazon is a good one.  We’ve had one of these for years and it’s held up really well.  It’s also not overly heavy.

With your propane stovetop and your Dutch ovens and table all prepared, your cooking space is ready to go.

Everything, Including the Kitchen Sink

This food preparation space and these storage capabilities go a long way toward making this kitchen really usable.  But without a sink to clean dishes and wash hands, it’s still not totally there.  That’s why we set up the kitchen sink too.

It may seem like setting up a sink would be really complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.  Keep it simple.

We just got a hold of a used sink/counter combo without any sink hardware (like the faucet and handles).  We laid that piece of countertop between two of our filing cabinets and voila, we had a sink.

So what about the water?

Well, it was actually quite simple.  We set up one of our 275 gallon water storage tanks a ways up the hill like I described in this article.  Then we ran a hose from the water tank to the sink, ran it up through the faucet hole, and attached a garden sprayer.  Then we opened the valve at the water tank.  That allowed us to control the water “faucet” from there at the sink.

Having the sprayer handle right there makes it really convenient, almost like a real sink.  But having a handle that you have to squeeze to get water helps us conserve water.

So where does the water go?

Great question.  You don’t want it to just pour out the drain hole under the sink.  That’s why we attached a larger rubber hose to the drain outlet on the bottom of the sink and ran it a little ways downhill to an area that doesn’t get any foot traffic.

Now, this isn’t drinking water.  We don’t store drinking water in our water tanks, although we could.  It’s just cleaning water for dishes and hands.

So What About Drinking Water?

For drinking water, we also like to keep it simple.  Rather than try to store large amounts of drinking water in big totes, we just bring up what we’re going to use whenever we go up.  That makes it so we don’t have to treat the water in the tanks to keep algae from growing and stuff.

The easiest way that we’ve found to handle drinking water is to just use a water dispenser, like the water cooler you may have seen at work.  Except we just use the really basic one that doesn’t cool the water.  Then, we bring some of those 5-gallon water jugs to use with the dispenser.

That said, it’s getting hard to find those dispensers these days without the cooling feature.  And it’s not hard to just bring a 5-gallon water cooler full of water.  That just may not be enough for a weekend depending on how many people are present, and you need to have clean water to refill it.

Another option is to just use the water from the water tanks, but to filter it before using it.  If you want to go the filtration route, there’s not much better than this Berkey water filter on Amazon.  It’ll filter pretty much any water you put through it.  It also holds 2 ¼ gallons at a time and has a dispenser on it, so you just fill the top and let it sit.

The filters that come with the Berkey can filter 6,000 gallons before needing to be replaced, so it’s a great high-capacity filter.  And even if you don’t need something that capable for your cabin base camp temporary kitchen, it’s a great thing to have for emergency preparedness.

And that’s about it.  With preparation space, storage, cooking appliances, cleaning and water, and drinking water you’re pretty set with a temporary kitchen that will make your base camp almost as enjoyable as your cabin.

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