Cooking and dining outside is one way many people have been able to see family from afar during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you plan on taking more meals in the great outdoors, these utensils and tools will make cooking and eating easier.
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outdoor cooking essentials
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

Though the temperatures may be dropping in some parts of the country, more and more of us are taking our kitchen and dining room tables outside in an effort to safely see the people we love from a distance. While you should avoid inviting people into your home because of the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, you can safely picnic from afar or sit around a few table and enjoy a BYO dinner, even if you can't hug. (Hey, it's better than nothing.)

So whether your outdoor eating time means a camping trip, more time using a grill, or building an outdoor space to meet this new need, you'll need the right tools and gear to get it done easily and safely. Here are 10 outdoor cooking must-haves to get you through the winter and beyond.

Hydro Flask Food Flask Thermos Jar
Credit: Amazon

Food Containers

Stainless steel and vacuum insulated, these leak-proof food jars from Hydro Flask are ideal for pre-cut vegetables and meats with marinade. TempShield insulation ensures all contents stay hot or cold and are ready for the grill or table upon opening.

Buy it: $35,

ust Trekker Stove with Collapsible Design
Credit: Amazon

Collapsible Stove

Heading out for a camping-style cookout? Don't forget the stove! This Trekker Stove from ust folds up to fit nicely into a backpack and push-button ignition allows for a quick start.

Buy it: $35;

PHOOZY Apollo Series Thermal Phone Case
Credit: Amazon

Phone Capsule

Whether you're grilling or cooking over a campfire, many of us are constantly on our phones checking recipes, or we leave them out for music, which can result in accidental spills... or worse. Phoozy's insulated phone capsule uses NASA-technology to protect your phone from heat, cold, and spills. The capsule is Bluetooth and wifi compatible, so it can stay safe, but still be accessible.

Buy it: $30;

Ecovessel Boss Beer Growler
Credit: Amazon


Toting liquids? EcoVessel's 64-ounce growler is the perfect match, featuring a condensation-free surface and dual-opening lid for easy pouring and filling. With a 100-year warranty, this will outlast every outdoor cooking adventure.

Buy it: $58;

Rustic Outdoor Melamine Dinnerware Collection
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Melamine Dinnerware

The outdoors is no place for the fine china, so be prepared with durable dinnerware. Scratch-resistant and fully shatterproof, these dishes come in an assortment of colors and sizes to fit every adventure need. The best part? They're dishwasher-safe, making clean-up a breeze, and they look like high-quality tableware, which is a nice upgrade from the silly prints and patterns of many melamine dishes.

Buy it: from $3;

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag
Credit: Amazon

Portable Cooler

Cut down on the need to run between the house and the patio, and store everything in one easy-to-access quality cooler. Leak-proof and soft-sided, this cooler bag can store up to fifty cans of soda and snaps into place using a structured frame. Take it camping, use in the backyard, or on-the-go, for cold food and drinks every time.

Buy it: $40;

BBQ Gloves
Credit: Amazon

Heat-Resistant Mitts

Even in the outdoors, kitchen safety is vital. These heat-resistant cooking gloves can withstand more than 1,000°F (not that you're cooking with temps that hot) and are covered in food-grade silicone to make sure food stays safe while the chef's hands and arms are protected.

Buy it: $14;

Credit: Amazon

Weatherproof Shoes

Messes happen, especially in the great outdoors where cooking is concerned, so it's important to have weatherproof shoes that are up to the task of keeping feet dry without sacrificing style. OluKai sneakers for men and women are a practical purchase (or gift) for the outdoor cooking enthusiast on your list. They'll also help prevent any slips or trips if you're cooking on a wet surface.

Buy it: from $80;

UST 20-12452 Brila 580 Dual Power LED Headlamp with Rechargeable Battery Pack
Credit: Amazon


No overhead lighting in the great outdoors? No problem! This rechargeable LED headlamp is the ideal hands-free way to keep your eyes on what's cooking. One charge keeps the lights on the up to 18 hours, and multiple lighting modes ensures you have the light needed for any situation.

Buy it: $40;

Grill Prep Trays on a black marble background
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Grill Prep Trays

Grilling meat has never been so seamless. This double-layered set of trays ensures raw meat and cooked meat never share the same space, and three size options means a tray for every need.

Buy it: $30;