You’ve got your first camping trip of the season in mind, but there is one problem: you’ll be gone for days on end and the fresh food you’ll be bringing with you is likely to spoil. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your food fresh without getting new ice every day. Consider the following tips and you’ll avoid spoilage and possible food poisoning.
Choose Your Foods Carefully
What is likely to spoil the fastest? Meats? Mayonnaise? Fruits and vegetables? Meats and egg-based products such as mayonnaise can cause food poisoning and should be kept refrigerated at all times. Instead of bringing with you fresh meats, consider the canned or precooked variety.
Substitute the mayo with mustard, vinaigrette dressings, olive oil or pesto and you’ll have a condiment that won’t spoil. At the very least if you choose to bring mayonnaise, then plan to use it up early.
Use One or More Coolers
Never expose your coolers to direct sunlight. Even fully insulated coolers will not be able to keep foods cool for long. When choosing a cooler, you want to maximize ice retention. A comparison conducted by Camping Life found that all four tested models kept food sufficiently cool for five full days.
Also consider bringing more than one cooler. A second cooler might hold a few items such as meats that need to be kept separate from your other foods. Wrap the meat securely and surround it with ice to keep it cold.
Another option is to fill your coolers with food and ice, leaving space at the top. Wrap dry ice in newspapers and place that on top of the food. It’ll help keep your ice lasting longer, perhaps long enough to cover your week-long vacation. Use dry ice with care as it can freeze your food and burn your hands.
Cool or Cover?
Not all foods need to be kept in a cooler, but all foods must be preserved or risk losing taste. For dry foods such as cereals, bagged rice, oils, syrup, breads, cookies, and crackers, exposure to the elements can ruin them.
Use a dedicated cooler without ice to hold these items. Or bring with you a sealed storage container and keep it away from heat and out of the cold. When not being used store the container in your locked car to keep animal thieves away.
Make an Ice Run
Unless you’re out in the wilderness you may want to make an ice run halfway through your vacation. The advantage here is clear — you’ll keep your foods cooler for longer and you can restock perishables as needed.
If you’re planning to spend the week in the wilderness, reconsider your foods completely, avoiding all perishables and relying on the fish you catch and the edible plants you find to supplement the dry goods you brought with you.