If you have ever been camping, then you know, that the knowledge of how to store food while camping is essential.
Storing your food correctly will not only keep you well-nourished but also safe. Yes, safe from the wildlife.
There are a few important food storing tips I learned in my years of camping and I am not holding anything back.
Below you will learn all my best tips, but my favorite one has to be right the first one. Once I got myself the large bins to store and organize my food and cooking items, my food storing game got to another level.
Table of contents
- General camping food storing tips
- How to keep your food cold
- How to store food safely in the wilderness
General camping food storing tips
In this part of my article on how to store food while camping I will focus on the more general, or organizational food storing tips.
This is the section where you will learn the tips that will help you save some space and weight of your camping baggage. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
Use large bins with lids to pack and organize your food
If you want to learn how to store food while camping, this is where you need to start. This tip is geared towards the car-camping enthusiasts out there, that drive up to the campsite in the car and can bring a substantial amount of camping gear with them.
If you didn’t implement this tip yet, you will surely know how hard is it to keep your food, utensils, and other gear organized. And this is where this game-changing tip comes in.
Just get yourself a few of the large and/or medium-sized bins with lids (as pictured) and use them to pack and organize your camping gear inside of them. You’ll stay much more organized, packing your car will be much easier, you can leave the campsite faster, and replenishing used-up supplies is much easier.
I have one of the each for food items, cooking gear and utensils, toiletries, and games and toys. But the categories you can use these on are pretty much limited to just your imagination.
After you get home from your camping trip just wash everything that’s dirty and put them back in its bin. You will thank me later and the next time the nature calls you’ll be ready much faster and easier.
Keep your food in air-sealed containers
Keeping your food in airtight containers will help to keep it fresh and prevent it from spoiling. The best way to do this is to use zip-top bags or airtight plastic containers (like Tupperware).
By keeping your food in airtight containers, you will keep out pests and limit the amount of moisture that can get to your food. This will limit the bacteria from growing and help to keep your food fresh longer.
Make sure to pack your food containers securely so that they do not get damaged in transit, ideally in large bins as we discussed in the previous tip.
And, be sure to dispose of any food waste properly when you are finished camping.
Remove packaging and try to consolidate food
When packing your food for a camping trip, try to remove as much packaging as possible. Since not all of the food (especially the dry food) needs to stay in its original, often times bulky packaging. This way you will reduce the weight of your baggage, save space and make it easier to transport your stuff.
Another way to reduce the weight of your camping baggage is to consolidate your food. What I mean by this is combining a few different items into one bigger food container. For example, you can combine ham and cheese into one container, or hot dogs and bacon into another.
By removing packaging and by consolidating food, you will lighten your load and make it easier to transport your food.
Use pill containers for spice storage
I love me some spices and I use many different spices when I cook, even while camping. But it’s pretty complicated to bring all the spices I love to the campsite with me. The packaging is unpractical, nearly impossible to reseal and they cause quite a big mess in the baggage. But there’s a better way…
If you are looking for a better way to store your spices while camping, consider using pill containers. These small plastic containers are the perfect size for storing spices and they are airtight. They will keep your spices fresh, help you stay organized, and ultimately help you to save some space too.
An additional advantage of using pill containers for spice storage is that they are lightweight and easy to transport. You can fit several containers in your pack and they take up very little space. And, since they are made of plastic, they are durable and will not break if they are dropped.
When you are finished using your spices, just rinse the pill containers out with water and store them away until your next camping trip.
How to keep your food cold
In this part of my article on how to store food while camping you will learn why you should consider investing in a cooler. As well as some tips on how to keep your food colder for longer.
A cooler or portable freezer is a must
One of the most important tools for every camper is their cooler or a portable freezer. They keep your food cold and items like meat and dairy products will stay fresh longer.
By taking a cooler or portable freezer camping with you, you will have the ability to cook food items that perish quickly if not refrigerated. This will help to expand your menu options and make it easier to cook your meals.
When choosing a cooler or portable freezer, make sure to get one that is big enough to store all the food you require for the length of your trip. And, be sure to pack it with plenty of ice (or frozen water bottles) to keep your food cold.
The decision whether to get a cooler or a portable fridge could be hard to make, this article that compares the pros and cons of both can be helpful to you.
Use frozen water bottles in your cooler instead of ice
If you are looking for a way to keep your food cold while camping and to save some space while doing it, consider using frozen water bottles in your cooler. It is a great way to keep your food cold without using a lot of ice. You need to bring bottled water with you anyway, so you might as well implement this trick.
Simply put your water bottles into the freezer for a day or two, then place them inside the cooler when leaving, and fill your food around them.
This way you utilize the space in your cooler that would be used up by ice and later would become water that you get rid of. And as the ice in the water bottles melts, the water in the bottles becomes available for cooking or drinking. It’s a win-win situation.
Another advantage of using frozen water bottles in your cooler is that they will help to keep your food cold for longer since the ice in the water bottle is much more compact than the ice cubes.
Freeze your food ahead of time
One of the best ways to store food while camping is to freeze it ahead of time. This will help to keep your food cold for longer and prevent it from spoiling.
Foods such as bacon, meat, bread, and cheese can be frozen ahead of time and then thawed out when you are ready to cook them. Plus the frozen food itself will keep the cooler cold, so you don’t need that much ice. Alternatively, combine this tip with the previous one and fill your cooler with frozen water bottles and food, to skip ice altogether.
Another advantage of freezing your food ahead of time is that you will use up less space in your cooler because you don’t need that much ice. This means that you can pack more food into your cooler and have a wider variety of options to choose from.
USA Today has a great article on how to pack frozen foods for a camping trip, which you could check out to learn more.
Keep the cooler away from sunshine
If you want to keep your food cold longer while camping, it is important to keep the cooler away from direct sunlight. Sunlight will cause the temperature inside the cooler to rise and your food to spoil.
To keep the cooler longer cold, try to keep the cooler in a shady area or under a tree and cover it with a damp towel.
How to store food safely in the wilderness
In this part of my article on how to store food while camping I focus on how food storage in the wilderness and your safety are linked together.
I explain the things you should be doing to help you to avoid encounters with the wildlife.
Never store your food in your tent
Storing your food in your tent is not a good idea. Not only will it make your tent smell like food, but it will also invite the wild animals right to you while you sleep. Which could lead to some very dangerous encounters.
If you absolutely have to store food in your tent, try to keep it in a sealed container. This should help to prevent the wild animals from smelling the food, but I absolutely cannot recommend it, because I never tried it.
Instead use the bear canisters, bear bags, or bear boxes, as I explain below.
Use bear canisters and bear boxes
If you are camping in an area that is known for its bears (or other dangerous wild animals), it is very important to take along a bear canister or at very least a bear bag.
Bear canisters are a great way to store food while camping. They are made of sturdy plastic and they can hold a lot of food. Plus, they are easy to carry and hang from the tree. Bear canisters offer better protection than other methods and a lot of campgrounds require them.
But remember, those bear canisters are not made to protect your food from being eaten by the bear. Instead, they are made to protect you. So once you’re done eating, pack anything that smells like food (yes, even the utensils) into the bear canister and bring it at least 200 feet away from your campsite.
Some campgrounds offer built metal boxes, sometimes known as bear boxes for your food storage. These are the most effective way of protecting your food. Don’t forget to bring a padlock if you plan to use the bear box at your campground.
Wash dirty dishes immediately
This is another great tactic to keep the wildlife and especially bears away. Simply wash your dishes immediately after you used them, but just to be safe pack them inside your bear canister or a bear box if available at your campground.
Hang your food for added safety
If you want to keep your food safe from animals, it is a good idea to hang it. If possible, don’t hang your food on a tree, because as we all know, bears can climb trees. Instead use a rope to hang it a couple of feet in the air, with no way for the bear to climb up to it, something like in the above picture.
This will help to prevent animals from getting to your food. And even though, this does not always work against bears, it is better than keeping your food at your campsite.
To hang your food, use a bear canister or a bear bag. It will help to keep your food safe from animals and bugs. And remember always store your food at least 200 feet from your campsite, when camping out in the wilderness.
The Bottom Line
Having nice food while camping adds a homey feeling to the outdoors, but storing your food safely and efficiently is essential. So what are you waiting for? Go give these food storing tips a try.
Learn how to find free camping by reading my guide and book yourself a campsite for your next outdoor adventure.
Alternatively, check out my other camping tips and guides.