Super Useful Tips For Storing Camping Food And Drinks

Every camping trip should be planned ahead of time. And probably most of that planning will be focused on the camping food and drinks.

Thinking about which food you’re gonna eat first or last and how to manage to leave as fewer leftovers as possible can be exhausting. But, by carefully counting every meal that you plan to eat you save a lot of space and weight.

It’s good to plan your menu in advance though and pick a food that you can easily make like foil packed meals. That’s a good start.

In general, to avoid any food poisoning the food should be always kept either very hot or cold before eating. When the food is left outside somewhere in between these two, like on room temperature for more than two hours, that makes it quite unsafe for eating. And keep in mind that meat can contain very harmful bacterias so make sure that is well-done every time and cooked without any pink spots left. When you finally remove the meat from the stove and heat, leave it a few minutes before eating.

When planning a backpacking trip for more than one night in the wild food might be your main concern. With the weight in mind, you can bring frozen foods and drinks for the first day, but for the rest of your camping trip consider other lightweight options such as dried food like noodles or soups, canned food, then dehydrated foods or dried fruits and pasta, and powder sauces.

When camping though transporting chilled food is a much better option. Refrigerate and pre-chill the food overnight or at least a couple of hours before you leave. If backpacking the cold drinks and frozen food will de-froze as you hike keeping your other food cold on the way and if car camping they will be ready to be packed in the cooler.

Not every campsite allows campfires so inform yourself well about the regulations of the area before you go camping. Even in the ones they do, there might be restrictions on the firewood that you’ll be using for your campfire. Some campsites won’t allow you to bring your own firewood from home but only to buy it from the site. If the campfire isn’t allowed the other option for cooking would be a camp stove. And the ones with two burners are definitely most useful. They are a bit heavier so you can bring one if car camping. Also, a fuel is another thing you need to carry that goes with a stove.

The easiest way to organize your camp kitchen is in storage boxes or totes. Make sure you choose the ones with a clear base to see through and view what’s inside without opening. They are also good for storing bulky items like blankets and other camping gear. Use zippable plastic bags to pack and split cutlery from cleaning items.

More to Read:

These few very useful tips you’ll read about further for properly packing a cooler will make your drinks and food last in days.

Keeping our food stored and drinks cooled off are two of the most important things when camping. If car camping you’ll be privileged to store most of your food in a cooler. What you should know is that ice is cooler’s best friend and his worst enemy is the hot air.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on ice then first and foremost thing to do is to make sure that the cooler will be opened only when necessary. Preventing the hot air of going into the cooler and melting the ice sooner will keep your food and drinks cold and fresh longer. That said, if you can you should consider bringing along two separate coolers, one for drinks and other for food. Especially when a group of people is camping, it’s better to have these two separate because the one with cold drinks will be opened more frequently. When food and drinks are in the same cooler and you open a cooler every time you look for a drink, you’ll probably turn the food all upside down to reach for a drink allowing hot air to go into the cooler melting the ice faster.

Some food doesn’t have to be packed in a cooler like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and canned food. Perishable foods should be stored in the cooler. And leftover food is only safe in the cooler if there is still ice inside.

Pack a cooler in four simple steps:

  1. Cool off the cooler before use

    Before you pack your cooler, you’ll need to cool it off. You can do that by putting a bag of ice in it for an overnight before use. When the inside walls are cold enough to the touch, you’ll know the cooler is ready to go. You can also place frozen water jags or bottles on the bottom. When they melt you’ll have fresh drinking water.

  2. Pre-chill the food before placing it into the cooler

    A full cooler keeps its cold temperature longer. Freeze and pre-chill as many food items and drinks as you can before putting them into the cooler. Ice will stay cooler in that way. 

    When packing a cooler you should start with as much frozen food as you can. The one planned to be eaten last stays on the bottom. The first layer should be the food that needs to stay extra cool and you won’t gonna need it for a while, like frozen meat that you plan to eat for dinner or the next day. So marinate and freeze meat ahead of time. Next, layer some more ice above and add the rest of the food, such as pre-made, pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, as well as meat or cheese packed in double zip-lock plastic bags. Lighter food and snacks go on the top. Finally, layer more ice around the food.

    Also, another awesome idea is to crack and beat your eggs together before they get crashed in the car anyway and pour them in an empty water bottle ready for frying in the pan. 

  3. Put ice blocks and ice cubes or freeze bottles of water or jugs to act as cooler packs on the bottom.

    After they melt you’ll have fresh drinks.

  4. Make sure the amount of food and drinks inside the cooler are well balanced.

    You also have to make sure you’re using enough ice in the cooler, like 2/3 of ice and 1/3 of food and drinks. The ice that you are going to use should be dry if you want to last longer. Use a mix of block ice and ice cubes to keep the content cold. Because ice cubes chill the food faster, but ice blocks last longer. As the ice melts in the cooler, you should leave the cold water inside, but keep the food out of the water.

Air leakage is the main reason you’re gonna lose the cold temperature of your cooler. You’ll need a durable cooler with good insulation on the walls. It’s really important not to let any air into the cooler because the air outside is much warmer and it will melt your ice too fast. Only open your cooler when necessary.

The ice will probably stay twice as long if you keep your cooler in the shade. You can insulate it even more by covering it with a blanket. Rubber feet on the bottom that are non-slip help keep your cooler where you put it.

Water treatment in the wilderness

When car camping you can also bring a water container that you can fill it with a tap water or from a lake and carry to your camp kitchen. They also can be collapsible which will save you a lot of space and are easy to carry. This means you can choose with a capacity of 5 l or more to satisfy your needs. You’ll have for drinking or washing hands and dishes for a while. When leaving the camp for a day hike or trips don’t forget to bring a filtering water bottle with you for personal use while you’re away, off-site.

Water boiling

Except for the bottled and tap water, when camping in the wild you can also find water in the streams, lakes, and springs. No matter how clean the water may look though, we should always filter or purify it before drinking any. You want to make sure the water is safe.

But, the surest way to treat a water in the backcountry is actually the simplest one – boiling. In the process of boiling all microorganisms and bacterias are killed. And really it doesn’t take so much time either, like 1-3 minutes depending on how high are you located. Higher elevations need more time for boiling. If the water is muddy, leave it in the jag for a while. After the silt settles on the bottom, you can dip the clear water off the top and then boil it.

Water filters and purifiers

Other options such as water filters and water purifiers will also assure that the water is treated right and safe for drinking. Filters will use a physical element to remove bacterias from the water but most of them won’t filter out viruses. The good thing is you can drink the water immediately.

Purifiers, on the other hand, will neutralize bacterias and viruses. When you use chemical purifier, like iodine or chlorine you basically need to just gather the water from the source, throw a tablet in the water and wait. Except that the waiting time can be a couple of hours. The positive side is that they are a lightweight and very nice backup option even when using filtering bottles. You’ll have to follow the instructions written on them for proper use.

UV purifiers are also lightweight and very portable but you can only filter small amounts of water. They work on batteries and use UV ultra light to neutralize any threats in the water.

Why is so important to store your food correctly when camping especially if you’re in a bear country?

It’s very important to store our food properly when camping or hiking in the wild. If not animals will surely get to it very easily. Food storage is crucial not just for our food but animals’ safety as well. If they become dependable on human food wild animals become aggressive and have to be killed. So, keep in mind that every fed wild animal is actually a dead animal.

Leaving out the food in the open is not a good idea. Keep your food in a vehicle or camper at night and when away of the campsite. If backpacking then there are some other options to think through for storing your food. Store the food in a locked bear-resistant container, inside a closed vehicle or hang it at least 3 meters clear of the ground.

What is a bear canister?

Bear-resistant container means a lockable container ( made of steel, thick aluminum or transparent polycarbonate material ) that when locked would be resistant to bear entry. Bear canisters are the easiest and most efficient way of storing and protecting your food in the backcountry and when camping from, not just bear thefts, but other animals too. They come in different sizes and are designed in a way that the animal can’t get its mouth around it, like bite the canister or pick up and take it. Bear resistant, safe, secure, and easy to pack, but not waterproof.

What goes into a bear canister?

The most important thing to know is what to store in them. And this includes anything that has a sort of scent. Except for food, consider putting into canister also things like bug spray, sunscreen or toothpaste. To make the most out of your space in the canister make sure you choose the right food. And repackage it in smaller plastic bags from home before you go camping in the wild. If you take the food out of its original package you’ll be producing less garbage on the site. The canister should fit all the food and scented items. This includes almost anything that doesn’t go into the cooler. If the food is properly packed in the bear-resistant canister or container, you won’t have to worry about the food anymore when animals visit the camp.

The other thing is finding the right spot to put it. You should go at least 70 adult footsteps away from your tent and kitchen, other campsites too while avoiding water or cliffs. Someplace that can’t be lost.

Before bear canister ever existed the only option alive was to hang your food bag on a rope between two trees at a reasonable height, away from any branches where animals can’t get to it. Which is not an easy thing to do at all and quite a time consuming as well. Definitely not a desirable activity after a day of a long hike. There are also some areas that don’t even allow to do bear hang of the bags. Animals that live there are so smart that they’ve already figured out all of the techniques how to get into the bags. Although they are heavier than bags and a bit bulky, bear canisters are very easy to use. You can buy them at any outdoor store or even rent or borrow.

Never store food, garbage or toiletries in tents. And remember to keep your campsite clean and dispose of your garbage properly.