Why you should cook outside

Here’s seven of the many reasons why this meal might be the best part of your cold, winter day.

Regardless if it’s freezing outside or just a slight chill where you live, cooking outside is a fun activity that the entire family will enjoy year-round. A campfire interests kids, and it’s a good way to spend some time outdoors.

A backyard fire and cooking is fun, and you won’t have to stay outside very long. Outdoor cooking is good for the soul and can bring a fun spirit to a sometimes dark and depressing time of year. So gather up the family, leave the devices inside, and hit the backyard for some outside cooking. Here’s seven of the many reasons why this meal might be the best part of your cold, winter day.

(Jimmy Kennedy)

Kids love fires

The first reason has to be about the kids, right? If it’s cold outside, a fire is a great way to still get out while also staying a little warm. The fire-building process is a good teaching point for kids and once it gets going, they can warm up their hands while you begin to cook some food. Talk to them while you prepare to light a fire and include them in gathering the materials needed. When it’s cold, everyone will be looking forward to a fire to stay warm, so it is easy to keep their attention. Campfires are a magical thing for a kid and oftentimes will relax them after a long day of normal activities. Another benefit to circling around a fire is the calming effect. Kids can have fun, talk with the family, and make a mess — because nobody gets upset when stuff falls on the ground.

(Laurie Tisdale)

Anyone can do it

It doesn’t matter where you live or how much cooking experience you have. Anyone can get outside and make a simple meal. Those who live in the country may have more options, but all you need is a small campfire ring, portable propane grill, or electric cooker to partake. Even if you live in a city, you can take a little drive to a park, campground, or public land. Be sure to research campfire rules in your state if you are using wood and make sure to let the fire burn out completely before leaving. In the winter, shovel snow on the fire when you are done to help put it out.

(Jimmy Kennedy)

Dessert is simple

Once you are done eating, dessert is a breeze. Break out the marshmallows and make a simple s’more over the fire. All you need is graham crackers, a couple pieces of chocolate, a few marshmallows, and a good stick. It’s a quick and simple way to wrap up the meal. Whether you are in the backyard or in the woods on a camping trip, these items are easy to pack and very rewarding.

(Laurie Tisdale)

Why not?

Everyone loves food and most love being outside. Especially in times of gloomy winter weather, it’s good to get out and get some fresh air. Campfires are fun, comforting, and have a way of bringing people together. Add in the need to stay warm while watching a meal cook, and it’s even better. Winter up north is tougher on folks than it is for people down south. Regardless, take an hour and bring the family outside for a simple meal. Being together without technology provides a great time to talk about day-to-day activities.

(Jimmy Kennedy)

Outdoor cooking just tastes better

For whatever reason, a meal from the grill or campfire just hits better. It may be because everyone had a role in making it or just excitement from being with the family. Simple foods, such as burgers and hotdogs, are much more rewarding from a grill. If you have a firepit, let the kids roast them. It will give them something to do and they can cook their food to their liking. Get creative with meal ideas and let the kids decide what they think would be good. Another thing about cooking outside is that you can prepare anything you want without the long-lasting smell — maybe it’s a good time to try that seafood?

There are no rules

Yeah, I know, when you leave the kitchen and hit the backyard, you can’t technically cook as many things with as many sides. However, there are still plenty of things you can prepare. And if it is cold, cook over the fire and enjoy the meal inside. There are no rules for outdoor cooking, but it will be a much more enjoyable experience with everyone involved. With a simple fire grate, you can cook anything you can think of. If you’re using a gas grill or an electric cooker, the options are still wide open.

(Jimmy Kennedy)

You can cook anything

You can cook anything the family will eat. Ask the kids what they would like to try and include them in the prep. With the main dish being cooked outside, it frees up the oven for making side dishes or dessert. Or, leave it up to the campfire or grill and make everything in the backyard. There’s always the traditional grilled chicken, burgers, steaks and hot dogs, but don’t be afraid to mix it up. Shish kebabs are a great way to get the family involved in the prep and are easy and fun to cook as well. Roasting whole ears of corn and other vegetables is always a good idea. You can also use a cast iron pan or Dutch oven to cook baked beans, stews or soup, as well as grilled cheese sandwiches. Use your imagination and have fun. There’s really no limit to what you and the family can prepare and cook outside.