How To Pack Food For Camping

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Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

How To Pack Food For Camping

Pack food for camping and save space

A meal by the campfire at the end of a long day outside is one of the best things about camping. Make your camp meals stress-free with proper planning and organization. Follow these steps to help you make the best meals:

Identify how long you will be away

This affects the number of ingredients you will have to buy. 

Plan your meal

Once you know the length of your camping trip, make a meal plan for every day and make your grocery list. Remember to balance, bring enough food for the whole trip.

  • It will be hard to find the specific food you are looking for if you packed too much food and it might end in the trash if not consumed.
  • This allows space for other important things in your pack.

Prepare precook foods 

Prep what you can at home. This includes: 

  • marinating meats and chopping vegetables
  • Precooking food like burritos or sandwiches
  • Tip: Make one meal at home to eat when you arrive at the campsite. You can avoid the stress of cooking while being tired from the trip.

Pack enough food

Take note of how much your family can eat in one meal and use it as a reference when planning the meals. This will help you to bring just enough for the whole trip.


You don’t need to bring large containers of food. Buy travel-sized ones or transfer the food to a travel-sized container. You can do this with oatmeal, chocolate drink powder, spices, flour, salt, sugar, etc. 

Choose your container

Bring containers that will be enough for all your food. You can bring two containers with sturdy lockable covers and segregate the food according to how you use them. You can use plastic for the food storage containers and glassware for the food. It all depends on your preference.

Arranging the foods 

Arrange the food in your storage containers according to how much you use them. Use separate containers for what you use all the time like spices, sauces, etc. Make use of a cooler for the food that needs to be frozen or kept at a certain temperature.

Foods that should be in a cooler

A cooler is a great way to keep your perishable food from spoiling these are food that should keep in the cooler:

  • Chicken meat
  • Pork meat
  • Beef meat
  • Burger patties
  • Hotdogs
  • Canned juice
  • Dairy
  • Other foods that are perishable 

To save space, put the meat in a Ziploc bag and flatten it. This makes organizing your cooler easier. Make sure to seal the meat tightly to prevent leakage into the cooler.

Packing the food in a cooler

Packing your cooler is an art form that has been perfected by campers throughout the years. There are specific steps to follow which will help your food last longer in the cooler.

Step 1 – Choose a high-quality cooler

Buy a cooler that can maintain the temperature of your food longer. High-quality coolers are more expensive than others but they will keep your food fresh for longer. Check out our article on the best cooler bag available for more information on coolers. Or if you want to go for something more substantial you might want to consider investing in an icebox to best store your food while camping.

Step 2 – Use ice blocks at the bottom

Ice blocks do not melt easily which will maintain the cold temperature inside the cooler.

Step 3 – Add meats, dairy, and other perishable food

Pre freeze your meat and other perishables (if possible) the night before and add them above the ice blocks in your cooler.

Step 4 – Add other food and drinks

After the meats, add your fruits, vegetables, bread, tortillas, etc to the cooler. Pre freeze your drinks and add them on top along with a final layer of ice.

Pack your food early

Save time and energy by packing your food before you go on the trip. Pre freeze what you can. This will also serve the same purpose as the ice blocks and help to maintain the temperature in the cooler.

Foods you should not forget to pack for camping

You have your meal plans and your grocery list all ready. Whatever you buy, make sure not to forget these essentials for any camping trip:

  • Salt, pepper. herbs and your spices
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Booking oil 
  • Butter
  • Precook foods
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dried and mixed nuts
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Sweets for the kids

Store your food efficiently while camping

Perishable food needs to be kept in certain temperatures so that it does not spoil. Eating spoiled food is dangerous for your health and can result in food poisoning. Keep your family safe by keeping your food as fresh as possible with these tips:

  • Separate perishable and non-perishable food

Put perishable food in the cooler and non-perishable food in airtight containers. 

  • Eat perishables first

Plan your meals properly by using perishable food first.

  • Keep it out from the sun

Your food storage containers and your cooler should be kept out of the sun. Store them in a cool and dry area and cover with a tarp or a blanket to keep the cold in for longer.

  • Keep the storage clean

Don’t leave food lying around the storage area. Keep the food in airtight containers.

  • Keep it away from animals

Make sure that the food storage area is a place where animals cannot reach, they can open food storage containers if not properly closed. 

  • Open it only when needed

This goes for your cooler and storage containers, open it and get everything that you need for cooking. This prevents your food from spoiling.