The Culinary Camper – An Explorer’s Guide to Food Prep and Storage
No one wants to get sick from eating food that was improperly stored, especially when camping! That’s a great way to ruin what would have been an otherwise excellent trip, on which you have no doubt spent a long time planning. Don’t worry though, because with proper preparation and handling, it is entirely possible to bring those perishable and delicious camping staples (think cheese, meat, fresh veggies, etc.).
This article will provide suggestions as to the best ways to safely store food at the campground, without refrigeration. Hopefully your camping culinary experience will be stress free.
Provide Adequate Cooling
The first thing you need to do is provide adequate cooling for perishable foods. You’ll need at least two coolers, one for your perishables, and one for your non-perishable snacks and drinks.
It is well worth your money to invest in high-quality coolers, as there is a huge difference in how long they will keep your food cold, as compared to a low-quality one. Try to avoid constantly opening the coolers, which releases the cold air inside the cooler and lets warm air inside. This is why you should have the non-perishable things you will be accessing more regularly.
Even if you do, you will probably need to add more ice daily, as the quantity of ice determines how low the temperature at which your storing your food. To get the most out of your ice, a helpful suggestion is to freeze your food ahead of time. This will give you greater breathing room when it comes to replenishing the ice.
Quantity of Food
This will ultimately depend on how many people your are camping with, but remember you’ll most likely be engaged in a more active lifestyle while camping, and your appetite will be likewise larger to account for that expended energy. Bring enough food for a large breakfasts, lunches, and dinners per day, per person.
These days, a lot of us tend to avoid too much processed and packaged foods. While this makes some sense at home, you should make some exceptions for when you go camping.
When camping, pre-packaged food is extremely convenient. This packaging is useful when the ice in your cooler melts to become water, as it prevents the food itself from taking on excess moisture. If you refuse to bring packaged foods and insist on bringing what you have prepared at home, remember to keep it wrapped or enclosed in containers to prevent it from sitting in the water that will inevitably be at the bottom of the cooler.
Plan Your Meals
A very helpful suggestion is to plan each meal that you will be eating. Given how much stuff you will be taking with you already, this can go along way to cut down on bringing stuff you wont end up eating. A list of your meals and the ingredients for each will make your grocery shopping painless.
Try to maximize the number of meals each ingredient can be used in (for example, ketchup goes with everything). Don’t get too ambitious with some meals, remember your going to be stuck cooking it on a campfire or a gas stove, so keep it simple. There are few things that compare to meal time at the campgrounds. Not only can it be delicious, but since everyone is relaxed and sharing in the preparation of the meal together, it can be a meaningful family event.
If you follow the suggestions given in his article, you will be well on your way to sharing your favorite camping meals with your closest friends and family, the basis of a fantastic trip.