Keeping Foods Cool on Your Camping Trip
Whether you’re a veteran camper, or just getting started with your first camping trip, keeping food cool can often be a major challenge. With the right supplies and a bit of preparation, though, it’s easy to keep food safe and palatable no matter the weather.
Every camper needs a good cooler. Investing in a quality cooler with thick insulating foam and airtight seals can go a long way towards keeping food cold – particularly if you pre-chill the cooler with ice prior to packing. Ice packs and frozen food wrapped in aluminum foil are great for keeping food cool, and if you camp regularly, you may want to consider investing in an electric cooler for added convenience.
When packing your cooler, you’ll want to pack it properly – that means layering food, drinks, and ice packs, and being sure to keep your lunchmeat and other ready-to-eat items on the top rather than buried in ice. In general, try to keep as much of the colder stuff on top and the warmer stuff on the bottom, and don’t overfill it – leaving some room for air circulation can help food stay cold for longer.
The type of storage you use is as important as the cooler itself. Plastic containers with airtight lids, reusable gallon storage bags, and glass jars can all help to keep your food cool. For fish and other proteins, vacuum seal bags are great as the air will form an extra barrier between your food and the heat.
Aside from securing your food, you’ll need to store it in a cool place. Especially if you’re camping in the summer, avoid storing food in the direct sunlight, or inside a tent. Keep it in the shade, and if possible, above ground. That way, cool air will circulate around it better.
When planning your camping meals, it’s important to think about which foods can stay cool the longest. For instance, instead of perishable lunchmeat sandwiches, bring shelf-stable items like dried meats, nuts, and whole grain crackers. For proteins, bring smoked fish or jerky, and for dairy products, try hard cheeses like cheddar.
On the other hand, if you have a reliable supply of ice and are confident that the weather will remain cold, you can still enjoy perishables like cooked meats, soft cheeses, and cooked and raw salads – just be sure to store them in airtight containers.
Keeping food cool is important for food safety too. Whether you have pre-prepared meals packed back, or you plan to prepare meals directly at your campsite, make sure to keep an eye on the internal temperature of your food. Perishable foods should never be left out for more than an hour at a time, unless the air is cold and the food is reduced to a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature of food regularly, and discard anything that has been left out for too long.
A great way to keep food cold and also safe is to have your food pre-frozen or even pre-chilled before packing it into your cooler. That way, it’s already cold when it goes into your cooler, so it takes less time for the cooler to maintain the food at a safe temperature.
Camping is an excellent way to get away from it all and enjoy spending time in nature, but it’s important to pay attention to food safety and nutrition, too. With the right supplies, proper storage, and dietary considerations, it’s easy to keep food cool and safe so you can continue to get the most out of your outdoor adventure.
Check out this YouTube video for more tips on how to keep food cool and safe on your camping trips!