Getting ready to go camping can either be trouble-free or chaotic depending on the time you take to prepare everything for the car. That includes your camping gear, food, and kids. While packing the camping gear and kids can just mean grabbing the tent and poles and weather appropriate clothes, packing food might be where a lot of people hit a snag. If you’re a griller, prepping your meat and making sure it stays nice and fresh is the complicated priority. But with these tips on keeping meat fresh in your camping cooler, you’ll be sure to arrive on the campsite with no food casualties.
Haphazardly throwing perishable foods in your cooler could risk ruining everything leaving you without anything to make to eat. And no one wants to drive back into town to replace all the hard work you’ve done prepping your camping meals. Make sure that you’ll be barbecuing in the woods with these tips for keeping meat on a camping trip.
Choose Your Cooler Wisely
If you’ve been using the same cooler for a long time, it might be time to get an upgrade. It’s worth the investment with the improvements made on cooler insulation in the years since you last bought one. Once you’ve chosen one or two that fit your camping group’s needs, make sure that you prepare the cooler at least a day before you leave.
- Bring your cooler inside so that its core temperature is as cool as possible rather than grabbing a hot one from the stuffy garage the morning of!
- Clean and disinfect your cooler.
- Fill your cooler with cold water and ice at least 12 hours before you leave and then dump the ice water before you begin to pack.
Prepare Your Food Early
Prep as much food as you can at home to save yourself the time and trouble of prepping on your campsite. This is an important step on how to pack meat for a camping trip!
- Forgo original packaging and re-pack your meat into a leak proof container like a resealable bag. Less packaging leaves you more space for ice and food.
- Freeze what you can except for your first meal, especially if you’re planning on grilling a steak or two.
- Nothing should go into your cooler at room temperature, so make sure all of the contents are refrigerated before packing.
Packing Your Cooler Strategically
One of the best trips for keeping meat on a camping trip is to make sure you pack your cooler properly.
- Use an ice brick to layer the bottom of the cooler.
- Reverse pack your meals so that your last meal is on the bottom and first meal on top.
- Fill all the spaces in between your food with ice cubes to eliminate air pockets that hasten melting.
- Assume everything might leak and pack everything vertically.
- Pack in a way that you can get what you need easily so you can quickly grab it rather than shuffle through everything.
And remember that the cooler should be the last thing packed and in the car!