Try to prepare as much ahead of time as possible.
- Slicing veggies for cooking before you go and storing them in ziplock bags makes it really easy to put meals together.
- Put meats into ziplock bags with marinade prior to leaving the house also, that way you just put them right onto the grill.
- Precook Pasta - This is a great trick. Boiling water at higher altituds can take forever. If you've got kids that love to eat Spaghetti, precook it, again, put it in a ziplock bag, reheat it in a shallow pan that has just enough water in it to heat the pasta.
- Pancake? Again, portion out all the ingredients into a ziplock bag. When you're ready to cook the pancakes, add the water (milk, eggs, yogurt - whatever) directly into the bag. Mush it all up, then cut the corner off the bag and easily pour the pancake batter out onto your griddle.
It's always easier to remember everything you are going to need if you make a checklist and then check things off as they are packed. Group your checklist by major category, i.e., Dry Foods, Refrigerator, Freezer, Cooking Supplies, Outdoor Living (tents, chairs, sleeping bags).
Make the kids a checklist
Preparing for a camping trip can be overwhelming. It's good for your family to know how much work you're doing, not to mention teaching them to do this for themselves. Depending on the age of your children their checklists will vary, but make them one that is age appropriate and get them involved. I know as a mom, sometimes it's just easier to do it all yourself, but don't miss out on this opportunity to lighten your load and help the kids develop their organization skills at the same time. If you're nervous about what might end up in their backpacks, have them lay all their items out on their beds along with the list, then you can go in for the actual "pack" and be sure everything is as it should be.
We're pretty regular campers, so I find it easier to have all of the totes labeled - this also provides a method for double checking the contents of each tote before I stack it in the garage for loading (loading isn't my job - thankfully).
We have two shelves in the garage that are used for staging. Before we go on a trip of any sort I stage everything that needs to go on those shelves. This allows me to pack up over the course of a couple of days, to check things off the list, and to insure that the things won't get moved by someone else and then left behind. The last thing I do before we leave the house is check to be sure those staging shelves are empty. Everyone in the house adds to the staging area as they pack up.