This fall we’re thinking about digital detox and getting back to the things that actually build us up and ground us down. We’re usually more of the glamping types, but sometimes a proper camping trip is just the medicine we need.
Feast by Firelight is a new cookbook just for hardcore campers and hosts an impressive variety of recipes to prepare tent-side, plus a ton of practical tips. This guide on how to pack a cooler will take your road trip or camping skills to Marie Kondo heights!
Camping can hold enough uncertainties that you don’t want to add food poisoning to the mix. I suggest making time for all food prep the night before your trip, to ensure you’ll have the freshest food once at camp. For food storage beyond 24 hours, I consult Still Tasty, which offers food storage times for individual ingredients, in every form (e.g., raw, cooked, chopped, whole, etc.). Here are a few extra tips for packing more common ingredients.
The Pre-Packing CommandmentsBe Cool. Never pack warm food!
Contain Yourself. Unless using for other recipes, portion liquids (such as milk or oil) into smaller containers.
on Cheese. Seal shredded cheese in a ziplock bag or air tight container and then chill for up to 5 days.
Wrap Bacon. Make sure bacon is sealed tightly in its packaging; if wrapped in butcher paper, transfer to a ziplock bag and then chill for up to 5 days.
Seal Herbs. Rinse herbs and shake off excess water. Pack them whole (leaves attached to stems) in a moist paper towel, seal in a ziplock bag, and then chill for up to 3 days. Basil is the exception, which is best planted in a jar of water (like a flower bouquet) and balanced in a cup holder en route to camp. Otherwise, wrap in a moist paper towel in a ziplock bag, as described, for up to 24 hours at ambient temperature; do not chill or the leaves will blacken.
Eggs in cartons. Pack eggs (raw or hard-boiled) in an egg carton. To save space, cut the carton to hold the total number of eggs you plan to bring (for all recipes).
Recycle Bags. Pack dry ingredients and pantry items (including onions, potatoes, and garlic) in reusable shopping bags.
How to Pick a CoolerChoose a thick-walled cooler for better insulation. Wheels are handy. Scrub the cooler sparkling clean before packing. Store the cooler in a shady spot. Minimize opening the cooler. Pack drinks in a separate cooler — you’ll be opening it more!
What to Do With IceMake large chunks of ice by freezing water in ziplock bags or containers. They will melt slower and can be crushed into smaller pieces for drinks. Hold ice in ziplock bags to help keep things dry as it melts. Layer ice in between food. Drain melted ice-water regularly.
How to Pack A Cooler Like A ProLeaks are bad. Pack all food in leakproof containers or ziplock bags. You’ll be glad you did!
Frozen food is like ice. Pack frozen items straight from the freezer, to double as ice packs and last longer.
heavy to light. Pack heavier, sturdier foods on the bottom and lighter foods up top.
smart sheets. Use a thin cutting board or baking sheet to separate meat, poultry, and seafood from fruits and vegetables.
double down. Place a towel on top for extra insulation and to prevent hot air pockets.
Need a little camping trip inspo? Discover one of our favorite weekend getaways here.