The Ultimate Guide: How to Keep Food Cold for a Week Camping
Camping is a great way to get away and explore nature with your family. But with an extended camping trip, there is one danger you should watch out for: spoiling food! The longer you are out and away from a refrigerator, the more likely you could end up with spoiled food. need not panic—with a bit of planning, you can keep food cold for a week camping with ease. In this guide, we’ll show you how.
Why is it Important to Keep Food Cold?
Keeping your food cold is important for two main reasons:
- Preventing Food Poisoning: Hot temperatures can cause bacteria to multiply quickly on food, leading to sickness. So, it’s important to keep food cold to avoid food poisoning.
- Preserving Food Quality: Keeping food cold can help preserve the flavor and texture of food. This is especially true for produce, dairy, and cooked proteins.
What Temperature Should Your Camping Food Be?
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends your camping food should be at or below 40°F. This is the optimal temperature for keeping food cold and safe from food-borne illness.
Tips for Keeping Food Cold In Camping
Keeping your food cold for a week camping can be a bit of a challenge. Here are a few tips that might help you out.
Use a Refrigerator
If your campsite has a refrigerator, then great! Fill your fridge with all your food and keep the temperature at 40°F or lower. During meal time or while cooking, you can pull out all the food you need and keep your refrigerator closed for the rest of the time.
Using ice for a camping trip is an old-school method but still works great! Make sure to use some kind of insulated cooler to keep the cold in and avoid warming up too quickly. Be sure to pre-chill the cooler before you put the food inside and try to use enough ice that it stays evenly cooled throughout the week.
Choose Foods That Don’t Require Refrigeration
If you’re going camping for a week or more, it might be helpful to choose items that don’t require refrigeration. There are plenty of non-perishable items that taste great, are nutritiously balanced, and will stay good throughout the week. Think things like oatmeal, almond butter, fruit, nuts, dried fruit, granola, and more.
Use Frozen Meals
You can make or buy pre-made meals ahead of time and freeze them. Then, when you head out on your camping trip, just pop them into your cooler using plenty of ice. This helps buy you more time if you don’t have access to a refrigerator or if your cooler starts to get warm.
Bring a Thermometer
Bringing a thermometer is key to making sure your camping food is safe. Many coolers come with thermometers, but if yours doesn’t, be sure to bring one along. That way you can keep an eye on if the temperature is dropping or rising as the week goes on. If it gets too warm, you can switch out the ice.
Tips on Storing Groceries While Camping
For any groceries that require refrigeration, you should always plan ahead. Before grocery shopping, be sure to consider your campsite and how many days you’ll be camping—that way you don’t buy food that will end up spoiling! Here are a few pro tips on storing your groceries while camping.
Fill up Ziploc Bags with Ice
Fill up several Ziploc bags with ice and keep them in the cooler. When your groceries come in, place the cold items inside the bags. That way your food is insulated and has a cool temperature.
Pre-Chill Groceries and Drinks
Be sure to pre-chill your food and drinks before leaving for the camping trip. Put the items in the refrigerator and freezer for several hours to hit optimal temperature. It helps to buy cup packs determined for cold storage, like frozen meals. That way you don’t have to buy a big 20-pound pack of meats and end up with too much.
Divide Groceries into Meal-Size Portions
When it comes to meats and produce, divide them into meal-size portions. That way, you don’t have to keep taking out the whole big package when cooking. If you separate them into individual meals, they will stay cold longer.
Make Use of Frozen Ice Blocks
If you use a combination of ice and blocks, the blocks last longer as they thaw at a much slower rate. You can freeze a variety of items for your trip, such as ice blocks, gallon jugs of water, or freezer packs. Whatever the items are, just remember to declare them on the trip and bring them with you.
Safety Tips For Camping Refrigerators
If your campsite comes with access to a refrigerator, then follow these safety tips to ensure food safety.
- Date everything. Mark down the date of delivery or purchase on all items that require refrigeration.
- Set the temperature. Make sure to set the refrigerator at 40°F or lower. Anything higher can allow bacteria to develop quickly.
- Check regularly. Check the temperature of the refrigerator regularly and adjust the temperature if necessary.
- Separate raw and cooked food. It’s best to keep cooked food and raw food separate. Raw food contains bacteria that can easily transfer to cooked items and cause food poisoning.
- Don’t leave food out. After taking out what you need for cooking, make sure to put the food away immediately and keep the refrigerator door closed for the rest of the time.
Camping Food Safety Video
Check out the video below from Ready Campaign on how to keep food cold and safe when camping.
Keeping food cold for a week camping can be a challenge, but not if you plan ahead. With the advice outlined above, you can be sure that all of your food will stay cold, safe and delicious throughout the trip. That way you can enjoy the outdoors while eating healthy and nourishing meals!