How do I Keep Food Cold for Camping?

How do I Keep Food Cold for Camping?Keeping your food cold can be a challenge if you are camping for more than one day. While bringing a cooler helps, even a cooler filled with ice will not keep food cold for an indeterminate amount of time. However, by packing your cooler to minimize the number of times you'll need to open it, using the right type of cooling ice or gel and storing your cooler in the right place, you can keep your food and drinks cold for as long as possible. This will help make your camping trip enjoyable, and more importantly, food poisoning-free.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cooler
  • Water
  • Freezer
  • Empty plastic milk containers or gel packs
  • Food
Step 1
Fill empty plastic milk cartons with water, screw the cap on and freeze them overnight to make ice blocks to keep your cooler cold. Ice blocks last longer than ice cubes. You can also freeze gel packs sold at camping supply stores.
Step 2
Place the milk containers filled with frozen water or the gel packs in your cooler.
Step 3
Pack raw meat or any poultry you plan to cook on your camping trip at the bottom of your cooler. Pack the rest of your food in the reverse order that you plan to eat it.
Step 4
Fill in any spaces at the top of your cooler with frozen gel packs or smaller plastic milk containers filled with frozen water.
Step 5
Keep your cooler closed as much as possible and cover it with a sleeping bag during the warmer daytime hours for extra insulation. Store your cooler in the shade.

Tips & Warnings

If you have room, bring two coolers. Keep perishable foods like cooked or uncooked meats and poultry, pasta and potato salad, and sandwiches in one cooler, and snacks and drinks in the other. The snack and drink cooler will be opened much more often.
Put all food and snacks inside sealed plastic bags so that if the ice melts and leaks out of the milk containers your food will not get wet.
If you are not going to eat perishable food within two hours, it needs to be kept in a cooler or it will not be safe to eat.
Water expands when frozen. Only fill the milk containers three-quarters of the way full with water before screwing the cap on and freezing.

Article Written By Elizabeth Grace

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elizabeth Grace is a freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Pepperdine University, and has 15 years of experience developing marketing campaigns for universities and multinational corporations.

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