Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tips & Tricks #1: Camp Kitchen

Just a few tips that I've learned in the Camp Kitchen this past spring.

*Use 2 separate coolers: one designated for meals/frozen food and the other for drinks/cold snacks.  Think about how many times throughout the day you open the cooler for a drink (or the little munchkins you're camping with open it for ice. Or a snack. Or looking for a juice box...) Every time that lid gets lifted, you lose some of the precious cold air that's trying to keep your 2 or 3 day supply of food at a safe temperature of 40* or below.  We also keep our 'food cooler' in our Pup - with the A/C running - so that the ice has a better chance of lasting the whole trip (and also keep the munchkins from opening our cooler by "mistake" <- a bungee cord helps prevent this on our beverage cooler outside - at least until LJ gets old enough to figure that out!)  The beverage cooler also gets moved around the campsite throughout the day to wherever the shade is.

*Freeze/pre-cool anything you can ahead of time.  Meats, sauces, etc.  This will help keep your food cooler colder and your ice will last longer.  Consider pre-cooling anything going into the drink cooler as well - fruits, veggies, pudding snack pacs, juices, adult beverages, water bottles, etc.  Anything you can do to minimize the burden on your ice will help things stay cooler long and keep you from running to the store to refresh your ice. (I've even heard of people putting their entire cooler into the fridge.  I unfortunately, don't have that kind of spare space!)

*Make ice 'blocks' from half gallon milk jugs.  Fill an empty and cleaned out jug about 3/4ths full with water and let freeze overnight (I do this the night before we leave). My Coleman 'food' cooler will easily hold 4 half gallon jugs across the bottom, with my frozen foodstuffs on top - then finished off with ice cubes to fill in all the spaces.  We've come home from trips and still had columns of ice in the jugs after 4 days. Another benefit here is that if you start to run low on drinkable water, you have a additional 2 gallon supply in your food cooler.

*Make your arrival night meals easy.  Drive thru somewhere fast food (blah), or grab a rotisserie chicken from a nearby grocery store, fix PB&Js before you leave the house - just try not to make a production out of that first meal.  We typically have spaghetti our first night out - I pre-make the sauce at home, put it in a freezer bag, and freeze it as a 'sheet' (lay the bag flat in the freezer to harden up) It comes right out of the food cooler when we arrive and defrosts while we set up, once we've popped-up a pot of water goes on the stove to boil pasta, and by the time we're finished with camp set up, all I have to do is warm the now-defrosted sauce, grab a french baguette from the bread bag and dinner's ready!

*Pre-cut and chop whenever possible.  Kind of a given - but I know that I don't want to stand around chopping onions, celery, and carrots for tuna salad while fighting off bugs and then next morning cut peppers, onions, ham, grate cheese, etc for omelets.  Since we know what we're having before we leave, I know what prep needs to be done for each meal.  Nothing easier than cracking a few eggs, dumping a bag of fixin's in and having omelets for breakfast! (I've noticed this also cuts down on food-scraps in the trash - which cuts down on visits from the raccoons!!)

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful tips and a great read. Thanks and have lots of fun!