How to pack your camping cooler to keep foods fresh

December 23, 2014

There’s nothing better than having fresh meat and vegetables on your camping trip. Find out the best way to pack your cooler to keep your foods deliciously fresh.

How to pack your camping cooler to keep foods fresh

Pack your cooler right and you'll enjoy healthy meals and snacks on your trip without having to forego the convenience of refrigeration.

Begin with fresh food

  • To keep meats and vegetables extra fresh, vacuum seal them. If you don't have a vacuum sealer at home, ask if your grocery store can do it for you; many provide this service, free of charge.
  • Put everything you plan on taking on your camping trip in the fridge the night before your trip so it can cool.

Pack your cooler right

Once you've bought a cooler you're happy with, it's time to pack it properly.

  • Start by adding solid bags of ice to cover the entire base of the cooler. Leave the bags of ice sealed to keep them from getting contaminated. You could also consider using dry ice as it doesn't melt and will stay frozen for up to six days.
  • Place frozen foods and raw meat on the bottom, directly on the ice packs.
  • Next, layer in fresh food. Food that doesn’t require any refrigeration, such as nuts and fresh fruit, can go on top.
  • Store fresh eggs, still in their carton, in the centre of your cooler.
  • Fill the rest of the cooler with as many ice packs as you can fit. Remember not to make the cooler too heavy to carry.
  • Store any dry goods separately, such as oatmeal, sugar and pasta.

A few things to remember

  • Don’t put dairy products, such as milk, cheese or yogurt, directly on dry ice as they will freeze.
  • Keep your cooler out of the sun as much as possible. Try using a tarp or blanket to shelter it from direct sunlight.

Camp friendly foods

While you'll want to eat well on your camping trip, you don't want to wind up bringing a lot of food that goes to waste. Do a little planning ahead to be sure you're packing everything you need.

Some foods to consider bringing are:

  • Meats that have more preservatives, such as bacon and sausage. They will last longer than non-preserved meats like chicken and beef.
  • Cabbage instead of regular lettuce; it will keep for weeks without refrigeration.

Protect your food

Remember, when you are camping it's critical to keep your food up and away from wild animals.

  • Racoons, bears, squirrels, mice, foxes and birds will do everything they can to get a hold of your fresh food. Keep your food locked in your car or strung up in a tree.

With these stay-fresh tips, you'll be eating well for your entire camping trip.

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