5 Tips to Keep Food Safe on Camping Trips

The only thing worse than being sick at home is being sick on a camping trip. It's easy to prepare a meal at home where we have access to thinks like a sink, refrigerator and garbage disposal. Making meals at a campsite takes a bit more creativity to ensure that cold foods are kept cold and our camping kitchen is kept clean. These simple tips can help keep food safe the next time you pack your cooler and head out for an adventure.

1. Keep a clean camp. For us this means immediately washing pots, pans, plates and all serving and eating utensils in hot soapy water, cleaning up garbage, disposing of food waste properly, having hand washing stations, and a designated cooking and eating area. Cleanliness is an important part of avoiding illness.

2. Keep cold foods cold. We like to minimize the amount of meat, poultry, eggs and milk we use while camping because it's hard to keep them cold and it's crucial that these foods always be kept under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If we're car camping, and weight isn't a problem, we try to buy canned or jarred food. If we're backpacking we like dehydrated, powdered or pre-cooked shelf-stable foods. If we do bring raw meat we like to prepare it ahead of time (by putting together kabobs or assembling hamburger patties) and then freezing it.

3. Keep certain foods separate in coolers by placing foods in individual zip top bags. This prevents cross-contamination. It's important to separate raw meat and think about placing items that you'll use toward the end of the trip at the bottom of your cooler. If my family is going to be gone for longer than a day or two we'll often bring one cooler just for meal items and another for drinks and snacks.

4. Use perishable foods first. And save things like jars of spaghetti sauce for the last night.

5. Think about ways to simplify meals ahead of time. Can you freeze a zip top bag of chili and use it to keep other foods in your cooler cold until it thaws enough to heat up over a campfire or cooking stove?

How do you keep your food and fellow campers safe and healthy while camping? Got a great tip? Share it below!
Rebecca Walsh
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Rebecca Walsh
Blogger at Just Trails
Rebecca Walsh is a crazy hiking Mom who hauls her two young children up and down mountains almost daily. She runs the website, Just Trails, with her husband and writes trail guides for Southeastern Wyoming and Northern Colorado. (Team Sierra bloggers receive promotional consideration from Sierra Trading Post.)
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