How to keep food cool on a camping trip?
Replies: 24 - Last Post: Aug 20, 2013 1:00 PM Last Post By: julesx2222
Apr 1, 2013 10:38 AM
15The styrofoam coolers break apart too easily. Get the cheapest plastic Coleman on sale. The block dry ice might me the best for you. All the above info. is good. The key for me has always been what kind of food you take and in what sizes. For example, milk and cheese don't hold up very well...use dry milk if necessary. Canned foods last a long time...like tuna, soups,etc...be smart about your selection. Dried fruits last better than fresh.Things like peanut butter serve easily and quickly when hungry. Planning is the key. Walk slowly through the super-market and evaluate the price vs. reward. I could go on a while about this, but the key is to be smart and flexible about your selection of food you take and the portions. Happy trails.
Apr 1, 2013 6:58 PM
Apr 1, 2013 7:17 PM
17Bummer about that experience you had in the past - I can't imagine what cooler you had that required you to drain it every few hours.
FWIW, even cheese that you buy in the refrigerated part of store doesn't need to be refrigerated, particularly if you're going to consume it in three days.
I second the suggestion to boil eggs and cook bacon in advance - hard-boiled eggs are very hardy and they, too, can withstand warmer temps.
For the days you'll be camping, keep the cooler wrapped in wetted towels.
Consider getting two coolers: One you keep in the trunk and it's got the main stuff you want to keep cool. The second, smaller one, you keep up front and is where you keep a few cold drinks/snacks/lunch fixings for while you're on the road. I support those who suggest getting cheap coolers.
Apr 2, 2013 5:56 AM
18In 7 weeks driving across the US & Canada, late summer, we used a DC cooler box, with an AC adapter for when we stayed at powered campsites (or at campsites with ablution blocks where we could plug it in for a few hours!). It means you don't have to shop every day, and can do your own lunch on the go as you suggest.
Be smart about what you buy and most stuff will be ok if you have it unplugged overnight.
Apr 2, 2013 7:11 PM
Apr 3, 2013 4:53 AM
Apr 3, 2013 6:01 AM
Apr 10, 2013 5:20 AM
22Buy a decent esky (cooler box). If you were bailing water out every few hours you had a crap one. The best have fibre glass insulation but they are pretty much the most expensive you can get. If you're already travelling (as you're staying in a hotel) that's a lot of money to put out for a one-off camping trip. Alternatively polyethelene eskies are very good too and not as expensive as the fibre glass ones, but probably still too expensive for a one-off camping trip. The plastic Coleman eskies suggested by a previous commenter are pretty rubbish, but if you're only going for 2 nights it might last ok. If you pack it full of enough ice it should last you.
As for wet food, put the food in plastic containers and it won't get wet.
Keep in mind that when you put food in an esky, it needs to be already cold. Expecting the ice in the esky to chill the food is going to drop the internal temperature of the esky and make the ice melt. Putting frozen food in is even better. When we go camping we normally go for 3 or 4 nights and freeze as much food as possible before we go - juice cartons, milk bottles, frozen vegetables, etc etc. This way the food is chilling the esky as much as the ice is. Most esky manufacturers recommend you chill the esky BEFORE packing it with your ice and food (ie. put ice in it a few hours before you want to pack the esky, to drop the temperature) but I have never been organised enough to do that. Also, use block ice in the bottom as well as the normal ice cubes to fill in the gaps around the food. Block ice takes much longer to melt.
If you run a fridge off your car battery you're going to flatten your battery pretty quick so make sure to idle the engine every now and then to recharge the battery. Most people who take fridges camping run them off solar panels or generators... both of which are also very expensive for a one-off camping trip :P So if you were going to buy one, one that runs off your car battery is probably a more economical option, you just need to be careful you don't run the battery flat.
#12, if you're close enough to a shopping centre to buy food every day, that's not real camping.
Apr 10, 2013 4:51 PM
23You say that "similar problem for other camping gear we buy and can't take back with us such as a gas cooker". Not sure where you are but we have done 8-10 camping trips from the UK to US. We buy a cooler at Walmart on arrival and then at the end of the trip fill it full of clothes, strap a luggage strap around it and check it in for the flight back. Back in the UK we can usually sell it for more than we paid for it.
If you buy ice, buy block ice not cube ice as it lasts far longer, though block ice does seem to be harder to find these days.
Don't worry about hotels raising an eyebrow at what you take to your room. They've seen it all before. We always ask for a ground floor (1st floor in US parlance) room to make it easier to unload the car and pack for the return flight.
Ditto what others have said. Don't buy room temperature drinks etc. Buy from the chilled cabinet. Another good idea is to buy stuff like frozen orange juice as you can drink it as it melts.
Aug 20, 2013 1:00 PM
24I may be too late and you have already gone on your trip... but you can buy dry ice from lots of places (grocery stores for one) for not a lot of money. A block should run you about $10. You put that down in your cooler, and put regular ice on top. It will keep that ice frozen for several days at least - depending on how ofter you open it. Your food will stay cold for days!! Sure it's a little more cost up front, but it is absolutely worth it.
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