Food is an essential part of every excursion. No camping trip is complete without a stash of food. After all, the belly rules the mind—right?
Even when enjoying the great outdoors, your health and well-being shouldn’t take the back seat. Improper food storage can pose health risks. If you don’t want to experience food poisoning and other bodily discomforts while you’re on your trip, then you better store your food and drinks under the right temperature.
Why do you need to keep your food cool?
It is worth noting that most food gets spoiled without any form of cooling in the first 24-48 hours. Keeping your food nice and cold while on a camping trip makes it stay fresh longer. Cool temperatures slow down the activity of bacteria (which all food contains) so that it takes longer for the bacteria to spoil the food. Also, microorganisms grow on meat, eggs, and many other foods past 4 degrees Celsius. You wouldn’t want your food to be contaminated with E. coli, do you?
Extra precautions should be observed when handling and refrigerating food at the campground, with more attention given to perishable ones like fresh vegetables, cheese, meat, and milk. So, how do you prevent food from being rotten and dangerous to eat? Worry no more. These are our best tips to keep food cold when spending some one-on-one time with nature.
Invest in quality coolers
When planning a camping trip, one of the most important things you shouldn’t forget is to pack. Coolers are incredibly reliable at food storage when you’re spending your days in nature. Using coolers with excellent chill retention capabilities not only offers added quality and freshness assurance but also prevents health scares as well.
Most quality coolers from reputable companies can keep ice from not melting for 3-4 days! Pretty cool, huh? More modern models will even allow your food to stay cool and fresh for up to 5 days. This is because they have thicker walls and provide better insulation. They are also more airtight so that they can keep your food cold for longer. It’s also an advantage when the cooler you get has a drain. This will allow you to let water out.
Bring two coolers with you.
It’s also recommended to take two coolers with you: one for storing your food and one for your beverages. The trick to keeping food cold in a cooler is to make sure the lid is kept closed most of the time. Separating your food and drinks in different coolers will allow you to open the coolers less frequently, preventing warmer air from circulating the food and keeping the ice from melting faster.
Having separate coolers for food and beverages will allow them to stay colder and last longer, so you wouldn’t have to worry about your food going bad or your drink getting warm. Just make sure that you can quickly tell apart which cooler contains food and which contains the beverages, so you won’t keep opening them wrong.
Cool your coolers
On how to keep food cold and frozen while camping, you would want your cooler to be at a colder temperature. The harder your cooler is, the longer your food stays cold and safe from spoiling inside it.
The trick in cooling your cooler before your trip is to get a bag of loose ice and throw them in your coolers a few hours before packing. When you’re done packing, remove the ice out of the cooler. Voila! You have a cold cooler.
When you’re about to go camping for three days and want to keep your food nice and cold, how do you keep food cold while camping for three days? The answer is: cool your coolers.
Prepare and freeze meals before your camping trip.
Having your meals prepared ahead of time will ensure that your food is kept for a more extended period. Frozen food will stay colder and longer. If you want to keep your food and beverages cold for a long time while camping, freeze everything in advance!
Frozen meals should be kept at the bottom of the cooler. Consume perishable food earlier to avoid wasting food and to ensure that it is safe to eat. When you’re freezing cooked food, make sure to reheat your meals properly before eating them.
Pack your cooler tightly and your food correctly.
The food will stay cold longer when there is less space in the cooler. To keep your food and beverages cold longer while camping, fill any spare room in your cooler with frozen water bottles.
If there is still a bit of extra space available, throw in some ice cubes, ice packs, or more food. This will also help keep your food cold and frozen inside the cooler.
And oh, make sure to pack all your food in freezer bags. It will prevent them from contaminating everything else in the cooler when the food defrosts. It will also protect your food from being soggy. Take extra care in sealing raw meat when you bring them as any contamination can be dangerous and harmful to your health.
Chill your beverages
To keep your beverages cold for a long time while camping, have them chilled in advance, too! An important trick to keep in mind is to freeze your drinking water in a 2L plastic container for at least a week before your excursion.
Before setting out on your trip, make sure the water is frozen solid. That’ll do the trick in keeping food and beverages cold for a long time inside the cooler while you’re enjoying your days on a camping trip.
Salt it out!
If you don’t have much time to prepare before your camping trip and want to keep your food really cold, you can just add 1/4 cup of salt to the bottom of a bottle and fill it with water. When you add salt to your ice, the temperature of that ice will get cold because of the chemical reaction that takes place.
So, adding salt to ice will lower the temperature of your cooler overall, which can help keep ice longer. Now that’s really cool! This will keep food cold and safe inside your cooler while camping. Just make sure you label those bottles accordingly, so you don’t accidentally consume them.
Keep your coolers cool.
When you put your cooler out in the sun, the ice will melt, and the food will spoil. Well, that’s a no-brainer. While tent camping during the warm summer months, prevent your cooler from directly contacting sunlight as much as possible. Try to keep the cooler warmer or in the shade to keep the food cold when camping.
Trees, rocks, cars, and tents offer a shade for your cooler. Do be mindful of the shade moving as the day progresses and the sun moves in the sky. Also, bear in mind not to keep your cooler close to any hot part of your car.
If you are going on the beach or dessert, you can get an extra day or two out of your cooler if you put sand around your cooler. The sand is an excellent insulator against the heat, and the deeper you place your cooler in, the cooler it gets. This will help you keep your food cold while tent camping.
Keeping your cooler away from the sun won’t be much of a problem for you when camping during the colder winter season, though. Your cooler might even end up retaining more coldness if you put it outside!
How to cool food without a cooler
While using coolers is a sure-fire way to keep your food cool on your camping trip, there are alternatives you can use if the worse comes to worst and your cooler accidentally breaks. You wouldn’t want to get stuck without food on your camping trip, right?
If this happens, how do you keep your food cold while camping then?
When packed with ice, thermal bags can be used to keep your food cold and safe while camping. You can also use IceMule coolers, which are handy and can be carried on your back. It can retain solid ice for a day and will keep all your food and drink cold while camping for at least 24 hours!