How To Pack and Cook For Camping

Hey guys,

Since I’m in the middle of prepping for camping at the moment, it seems like the perfect time to write about this. I am a tent camper, which means I don’t have a stove, fridge or anywhere to store food aside from my small cooler. This means I have very little space for cold food. This does not mean I don’t like to eat well while I’m in the woods though. Let’s go over prep work you can do before your trip, ways to store food and foods that take little to no effort to prepare.

Eva Blakeman – Camping

Before we get to food, I want to impress how important it is to store your food safely when camping in bear country. Dispose of food in bear safe garbage containers or burn them. Do not leave food unattended at your camp site as a vacant site with food is just calling for a bear to come by, and likely return again in hopes of getting more easy food. Coffee cups and juices also attract bears, so make sure your morning coffee isn’t sitting out with dregs, as a small amount of cream and sugar left in a cup is more than enough for a bear to sniff out.

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Store food in sealed containers and preferable inside your vehicle/ camper / trailer. If you are camping away from you vehicle, store food is air tight containers. Unfortunately most re-sealable bags are plastic, but they can be re-used many times before they are disposed of, so I would recommend re-using them as many times as you can before you throw them out.

Non Refrigerated Items

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While camping generally means eating less than clean, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy something other than chips. Apples, carrots, nuts, celery, bread, peanut butter, honey, etc, don’t require refrigeration and last over a week, which makes them ideal for camping. Not to mention how easy it is to eat an apple! No clean up.

Refrigerated Items

As I said, I use a small cooler, so in order to keep my items cold I use frozen water bottles. This way I have water and get to keep my food cool, saving space and weight. I limit the cool foods I bring to cheese, hot sauce and sometimes meats. If I’m bring meats I vacuum seal them and freeze them before packing them for a few reasons. The first is to make the meat last longer and keep the whole cooler colder as it is frozen, the second is to avoid a mess. A vacuum sealed meat can’t leak as it thaws. The third is that it takes up less space vacuum sealed than it doesn’t in it’s original styrofoam container. Not to mention it can’t attract wildlife if it’s air sealed.

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Junk Food / Snacks

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I can’t pretend I don’t bring junk food when I’m camping, so let’s get it out there. Again for space reasons, I tend to ditch the original containers and switch them to ziplock bags to save space and to give them a re-sealable edge, especially with chips. I love sunflower seeds and almonds, both of which often come in re-sealable bags that aren’t half air, so they get packed “as-is”.

Tin Foil Potatoes

I have a deep love for cooking with fire, as it is something I’ve been doing since I was a kid. You don’t want to cut potatoes more than a half hour before cooking, so I take the small potatoes, a pre-mixed bag of spices (onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne and salt), some tin foil and a knife. Once your fire is good and hot you can cut your potatoes in half, sprinkle them with spices (you can add some olive oil if you have it with you) then wrap them up in foil, making sure there are no open holes in the foil, and throw them onto the coals at the edge of the fire. With 10 small potatoes cooking, it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes for them to be steaming and soft. If you have a small fire or it hasn’t been burning for very long, it will take longer.

Cooking Meats

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I rarely bring meats but when I do, I also bring tin foil. While steak doesn’t turn out great in tin foil, chicken and pork can be pretty tasty when cooked this way as it steams the meat in its own juices. It can be tricky to get the cook times right, so if in doubt, leave the meat at home. If you are confident that you can see white meat and no red or pink left, then you are ready to eat.

KEEPING DRINKS COLD

Eva Blakeman – Camping

If you are camping near a water source, cooling your drinks will be easy as you can either net your cans and leave them in the water or dunk them in for a half hour before drinking them. If you are not near water then being as efficient as possible with cold space is important. The likely hood of ice you packed 4 days ago in a cooler still being frozen is slim, so you will need to keep the drinks themselves cool. Having a committed cooler for drinks with frozen water bottles is helpful as you won’t be opening your food cooler often, losing the chill for your other foods. Storing your cooler in a shaded place also helps keep it cool.

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All in all, food is the least impressionable part of camping, but underpacking and spoiled food can ruin a trip. My tip would be to focus on foods that don’t perish for at least a week that don’t need to be kept cool. If you have any tips you wan’t to share, I would be so happy to hear them!

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Camping

Camping is one of the greatest things. Relaxing in nature is the best but there are things to keep in mind to keep you and your family safe …

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Camping season is possibly the greatest time of the year, but unfortunately it is plagued with critters, rain, wounds, infections and bears. Thankfully all of these things can be dealt with whether you go camping in provincial camp sites or out in the woods.

Dealing With Bugs

I live in Alberta, Canada where mosquitos, ticks, brown recluse spiders and a plethora of other pests live. Mosquitos are actually the most difficult to deal with out of all of them, but a steady smokey fire, deep woods bug spray, long sleeve loose shirts and denim can reduce your bug bites to nearly zero from those pesky buggers. Ticks in my province now carry lime disease so ensuring they don’t settle into your skin is essential. To reduce exposure to ticks, walk in the centre of paths, avoid brushing up on foliage, wear loose long sleeve shirts, full length pants and shoes and socks that cover the gap between your pants and feet. Before settling in for the night, do a tick check! Their bites are not always noticeable as they do numb the area they bite so double check and remove them before sleeping. It is also essential that you check your dogs paws, coat and mouth throughout the day as they easily get between the pads of their feet and into their coats. Brown recluse spiders are not usually an issue, as they do not like to be around people or loud noises. Should you run into one of them, leave it alone and walk away. (We were lifting up our boat to pack it onto the back of the truck and found a nest of them that had settled in the boat overnight, we wound up flipping the boat into the sand and leaving it for a while before checking it again and actually loading it.) It may be annoying to walk away from what you are doing, but their bites are nothing to laugh about. Both my mother and I now have permanent holes in our limbs due to their nasty little venom. Seek medical help immediately if you are bitten, as people react differently and the time lines change with each individual. Bears are a well known hazard up north, but not one many people are actually trained to deal with. I’ve had to take two separate courses on bears, and I have personally had a few run ins with them. The best course of action with bears in PROACTIVE ACTION. Carry bear bells, talk loudly, air seal food, don’t leave scraps out, burn all food packaging or store it in bear proof garbage cans. Play music, have fires, use the buddy system and never approach a bear. Black bears are generally curious of humans and frighten easily, unfortunately they tend to attack when scared so avoid sneaking up on black bears. Grizzlies are much harder to type cast in their behaviour, the best advice I can lend is to take every precaution not to come into contact with one, and if one is spotted, leave the area.

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Keeping Food Cold

We all know that an ice chest is only efficient while closed and out of direct sunlight. To keep your food cold, freeze any item you can before packing it (freeze all your meats), fill any empty space with ice or ice packs, store it in a dark area and open it as little as possible. If you are bringing foods and beverages that should both be cold, keep them in separate containers and opt to fill the beverage container with more ice as it will be opened more often. If you can cool the ice chests in the fridge over night before leaving, do it!

Camping First Aid Kit

When going into the bush, hours away from medical care or even to organized camp sites in the country, first aid is essential. You should have a full first aid kit, which you can purchase at Cabelas, Walmart and most outdoor stores. Added to that, have a bag with After Bite, Polysporin, a sharp blade, burn cream, sterile water (multiple bottles), a lighter, matches, a needle, medical grade suturing thread, anti inflammatories and (if applicable) an epi pen. Yes I realize that list is an investment, as all together it isn’t inexpensive, but it is the basic supplies to perform first aid. A first aid book would also be advisable.

Fireworks

We all love fireworks, and camping is a great opportunity to enjoy them, but taking a moment to plan out to ensure you do start a forest fire is important. The best place to use them is over a river or lake, as the shore where they are being lit is already a moist environment where the bodies of the fireworks won’t cause issues, and any misfires from the body that may not reach where it’s supposed to will harmlessly fall towards the water. If a body of water is not a possibility. Please ensure you are not shooting towards dry forests and that the local fire hazard signage is reading low possibility of forest fires.

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Fires

I’ve taken a lot of pride in my ability to start fires without accelerants, because my family tends to quick start fires with diesel and I wanted to do it the old fashion way, and to this day I continue to build fires the low tech way. The advisory here, is should you chose to use an accelerant, please chose a slow burn and not an explosive like gasoline. Diesel fuel and two stroke oil and citronella oil are all good slow burns fire starters. I give this advice as I have watched a few men blow off their eyebrows starting fires with gas.

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I love camping, it’s been an essential part of every summer of my life and I appreciate the years of patience my family had teaching me how to get by in the woods. Let me know your favourite camping spot in the comments!