The most exciting and at the same time, really challenging preparation for camping is storing perishables.
Eggs, precooked foods, raw meat (mostly marinated) and milk can spoil quickly when not done right.
Microorganisms will begin to grow when the temperatures go mad and transcend 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a child, my mother used to spin my head whenever I watch her doing her food preparation for our family camping!
She does a lot of them all at the same. I learned important hacks from her, and from remarkably skillful people as I got older. I will share some of that in this article.
Proper Insulation Is The Key
When it comes to food preservation a low-tech method of making any food last longer is proper insulation. An ordinary ice melts easily and this is something I find annoying.
The moment I reach the camping site, all my perishables are swimming in cold water making it more prone to microorganisms.
Before placing all your meat, fruits and dairy products inside the cooler:
1# Dry Ice Packs & Styrofoam
First, encase the bottom and the sides of your cooler with styrofoam, for extra insulation. Fill the bottom of the cooler with dry ice blocks, followed by a bag of ice cubes.
2# Bubble Foil & Metal tape
Some coolers don’t do well in keeping foods cool inside. Airtight sealing foods are not enough.
You need to equip your cooler to be insulated and a bubble foil sealed with metal tape does a great job for a cheap upgrade.
Just create a box enough to fit inside the cooler and use metal tape to seal it tightly.
Do It The Butcher’s Way
The meat! Well, how do we package a fresh hunk of beef tenderloin?
Freezing the sausages, pork chops, and steaks before the camping trip shouldn’t be difficult.
The safe prepping we all do is to wrap the portions of meat as airtight as we can, right?
Now, there are several ways to do this including the use of heavy-duty foils. But, these two are the surefire methods that I highly suggest.
3# Airtight In A Plastic Bag
Either you use a cling wrap, zip lock bags or much better, both! I often season the meat with salt & pepper before freezing it a night before the trip.
That can extend their shelf life for another day or two. Make sure the meat is really frozen. On the day of the trip, pat the meat dry first because watery meat inside a plastic bag is just downright nasty.
4# Butcher’s Paper Or Freezer Paper
This method is a copycat of dry-aging meat, similar to curing hams. An old method of wrapping a big chunk of seasoned meat tenderloin swaddled in a paper.
Tying it with kitchen string is an option but make sure you still put it inside a plastic bag.
Some prefer the use of newspapers instead if they don’t have butcher’s paper or freezer paper to use. It’s a heck of a lot better than nothing!
Make-ahead Camping Foods
There are a number of preparation staples that you shouldn’t forget such as pre-cooked foods. It saves you time, space for your cooler and utensils to bring on a camping trip.
Most campers like to prep them in mason jars, but I’d go with zip lock bags. They are easier to fit inside any container and much lighter.
5# Just-add-water soup recipes
When I learned about easy-to-pack, non-perishable, just-add-water soup recipes. It instantly became one of my favorite big camping party trick for the foreseeable future.
You make your own at home! Basically, prep foods with shorter cooking times when you’re at the campsite. It is a foolproof go to.
6# Ziplock Omelet
This novel idea of camping purists is mostly seen stored in plastic bottles, which is totally fine.
However, I like my pre-scrambled eggs seasoned and individually prepared in zip lock bags, before the camping trip.
That saves me from the hassle of chopping the veggies during a lazy, early morning in a nearby river.
One Standard Is Best Partnered With An Electric Cooler
Personally, I go camping very often to justify the cost. I find it more practical having 1 standard cooler and 1 electric cooler.
If you are truly a camper, it is best to invest in those large electric coolers like the Knox 48 Quart Electric Cooler. You can charge it in your car.
It can serve as a backup cooler for longer road trips and extended campings.
Not Chilled, BUT FROZEN
Any canned beverages with high water content such as light beers and soft drinks take more time to melt.
This is why it is a practical move to freeze your on-the-go booze, juices, and sodas in cans beforehand.
Also, in case you brought warm beverages don’t toss them in the cooler right away. I suggest giving them a cold bath in a stream or lake at the campsite.
This is basically a natural way to make beverages chilled like it just came out of the fridge. Alternatively, when it is pouring in the campsite, leave them out there to have the brunt of the rain.
Leave about 2 inches of water at the bottom of the cooler whenever you drain out excess water.
And add a handful of table salt to lower the freezing temperature of the water.
Keeping a part of the beverages submerged into the water keeps it cold.
Opt For Powdered Milk Or Canned Yogurt
This one is tougher than the rest, how to make milk keep up against the clock. What works for me as a great way to get milk from here to there without refrigeration are individual yogurts.
They are milk with cultures and can last up to two weeks if unopened. But if you really want full-fat versions of milk, I suggest sticking with the powdered milk in sachets is convenient.