Going to the Cottage

July 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Really, it’s an unserviced shack in the middle of very dense woods in Western Quebec. Woohoo, can’t wait!

I’m an “old fashioned” camper, I prefer the rustic experiences of my childhood to today’s modern “glamping“.  We will have no running water or electricity and have to rely on batteries, kerosene, propane and ice for our basic necessities. I’ll spare you the potty details. 😛

This post is about packing the cooler.

I have recently come up with a way to maximize space and efficiency while at the same time saving myself some of the headaches of depending on a portable box of melting ice for our perishable food items.

 frcoolerThis is one of our smaller coolers, perfect for me and my girlfriend for the weekend. Anything bigger is a waste of space and this one, tightly packed, will keep the food colder longer.

So, if you’re new to camping or just want a better way to store your perishable food items here are some easy steps to packing a cooler for maximum convenience and minimum hassles.

1) Make a detailed menu plan including snacks. It took me years to figure out the necessity of this step. Mostly because I was so busy making other lists and organizing the kids that when it was time to head out we just threw a bunch of stuff in the cooler and tossed ice on top.

When I say detailed, I mean down to how many eggs per person per day you’ll need. It’ll save you room and prevent the need to cool food you won’t be eating. The easiest way to do this is to figure out how long you’ll be gone, how many meals you’ll need, how much each person is likely to eat and account for snacking.

2) Take only what you have determined you’ll need (from Step 1).  Don’t bring a whole brick of cheese or tub of yogurt for two people for an overnight stay. This is such a waste of precious space in your cooler and you run the risk of food turning, particularly if the weather is really hot.

Either buy individual portions if they are available and just toss a few in the cooler. You can also parse food out in food safe reusable containers. You don’t need a whole cupboard of *Tupperware for this either.

containersThese reusable food safe products are affordable, sturdy and can be found in almost any grocery store. Just make sure they will fit in your cooler and that they stack well.

3) Freeze as much as possible to keep the necessity for ice to a minimum. Melting ice can wreak havoc in that the water often easily gets beyond basic packaging. Soggy wieners or soaked cheese anyone?

I personally prefer to precook and then freeze items like chicken, stews or soups (in the reusable containers) for the cooler. They keep the other foods cool and at the same time saves on the cooking. Frozen water bottles and juice boxes also work as great ice substitutes.

4) Finally, practice stacking your containers for maximum space allowance. This may sound silly but it’s so worth the time to make sure just how many containers will fit and still allow space for things like fruit and eggs.

If you find you have enough room you can even fill an empty container with water and freeze it. This will act like an ice pack with the bonus of providing both drinking water and an empty container for any leftovers.

Happy Camping!


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