Food safety when camping is just as important for camp cooking as it is when cooking at home.
We provide helpful food safety tips to make sure when deciding what food to bring you also bring a few safety skills to keep your adventure trip hygienic and safe.
While enjoying the great outdoors we are a little more vulnerable to food contamination or poisoning when cooking because we do not have the same kind of hygiene set up available as we do at home.
Raw Meats, Poultry and Fish
Using and cooking meat or fish has potential problems we need awareness about to prevent food poisoning or worse. The risks include cross-contamination, eating under cooked meat and meats or fish going off quicker without a good cold source.
Here’s a few tips when taking and using meats on an outdoor trip
- Use meat/fish as least as possible: To be honest I would use meat as least as possible because its harder to keep fresh outdoors, although a good barbecue is hard to resist or a bacon sarnie for breakfast.
- Chopping board: Use a separate chop board for cutting meat and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.
- Cutlery: Clean all cutlery used after cutting meat especially if using the same knife to cut veg after.
- Catching/eating fish: If you catch fish to eat then it will help to put it straight into a cooler as soon as arriving back at camp. Many people will keep them alive in the right kind of container until they’re ready to be cooked
- Freeze at home: If your planning a weekend camp out or would like to use meat the first couple of days out on an extended trip you can freeze meat at home then store it inside a cooler box before leaving home. A good cooler should keep food fresh for a couple of days or so if it has plenty of ice inside.
- Dad is it cooked yet? : A common mistake many of us make when cooking outdoors on a barbecue or camp fire is under cooking or burning the outer part of the meat. One way of testing if meat is cooked is using a thermometer, another way is the doneness check (good with steak or chops). What the heck is donenss check? I was going to explain but i will make it easier for you and me by adding a video below. I found the best way to cook on a camp stove or barbecue is cooking slower with either the heat lower or less flame.
- Keep meat separate from other foods: When we store food it helps to keep meats inside packaging that’s strong or a container and keep them well away from other foods which will prevent cross-contamination if packaging leaks meat juice’s out.
The meat doneness video mentioned above….
Camping Food Storage Ideas
If your planning to stay at a campsite for a week or two it’s worth finding out from the campsite what nearest shops are available to check whether you can get more supplies or not, and how far you may have to travel.
I just google the address and then find out what is local, or you could call the campground office. This could prevent having to take a lot of food by buying it near the camp area if available, although in rural areas a lot of the local stores stock very few options and can be much more expensive.
- Camping Cooler: Camping coolers will help with storage and keeping food fresh….. Stocking up a cooler before leaving home can save money and trips to buy food for the first few of days while out on camp.
- Containers – Food bags: You may already have some containers you could use from home or they can be picked up from super-stores pretty cheap. Containers (or food bags) are going to keep foods like sugar, cereal, pasta, rice and other dried foods fresh, free from getting damp and clean. If hiking/backpacking there are still small tubs that can be used that pack well or using food/freezer bags will suffice.
- Using the car: The car boot can be used for storage space during the night which is ideal if there is risk of mice, raccoons or bears trying to get at the food. Make sure the food is taken out of the car or protected from the heat when the morning sun rises to keep the food fresh and safe for eating.
Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness
- Detergents: The things we use like detergents and soap at home can be used while were away for hygienic purposes. You may want to put just enough needed into small bottles or packets that will last the trip rather than packing whole bottles.
- Keep hands clean: I don’t want to sound like a parent but wash your hands before dinner, will ya! Stores sell anti-bacterial soap that can be used without water that are ideal for camping and travel that are easy to use “whenever and wherever”.
- Cooking area: Keeping the cooking area nice and clean helps to prevent foods becoming contaminated.
Camping Food List
It helps by making a list of food to bring camping and what you may need to buy while your away. You can prepare a list based on what is needed for 3 meals a day (x how many days), breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Making a list will surely help you to be better prepared before you go.
To keep it simple i’ve added a list that you can print that can be used for ideas to create your own list or just take it to the store and tick the items you have bought. Only basic food suitable for camping is included that’s practical, not home cooking foods.
If you can make a plan of how much food you will need for each person and for the amount of days your camping, shopping will be a breeze.
- Soups and stews
- Meat-(ham,corned beef etc)
- Fruit-(pineapple,mixed fruit etc)
- Cooking Sauce-(pasta,curry)
- Vegetable’s-(peas, potatoes, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes)
- Rice pudding
- Breakfast Cereals
- Pancake mix
- Mixed nuts, dried fruit
- Health bars-snacks
- Freeze dried foods
- Meats (salami,pepperoni)
- ketchup ,mayonnaise, soy sauce, worcestershire ,thousand island, mustard ,horseradish, pepper sauce, honey, syrup etc
- Cooking oil, olive oil
- salt, pepper, chilli powder, nutmeg, oregano, parsley etc
- Jam,lemon curd,peanut butter,chocolate.
- Cheese paste,tubes
- hot chocolate
- Powdered Milk (easier for tea,coffee and cereal)
- Beer and wine of course 😉
No Cooking Camping Food Ideas
Getting away on a camp out for a few days or so is an opportunity to not have to do all the chores we have to do at home so much. After all it’s a vacation…
Anything that can lighten the amount of chores to be done, giving us more time to get away from camp or just chilling out is worth considering.
- Canned foods: Fish, fruit, rice pudding, meats etc.
- Packaged stuff: Meals that are made with rice or pasta can usually be eaten hot or cold which are great for a quick lunch whilst hiking or any other activity.
- Breakfast Cereals: Oats is one of the best cereals for providing energy that lasts and can be made by just adding water (some need milk to taste good).
- Fiber/Energy bars: Many different types that provide energy when needed are available on the market. You have try them to see if you like them because each type is not for everyones taste buds.
- Self Heating Meals: These are another option that’s quick and needs no heat. There’s various ways that these work to heat the food and what they are heated in. I tried beef stew in a can and it was better than expected, although I wouldn’t offer it to guests that come over for dinner at home.
Freeze dried foods are a great option when backpacking and packing light, however keep in mind some brands are better than others. Some are so good that i’d use them when at a base camp for something quick and easy to eat.
Companies such as Mountain House (US leader) and others offer a good range of meal types to choose from, that taste good, while others just don’t compare in quality, although they may be cheaper.
Food Safety..cleanliness is next to godliness
Food safety when cooking outdoors is something we should keep in mind, especially when dealing with meats etc.
Most things we need to be aware of are similar to what we have do back home, although we are outdoors which makes food contamination a higher risk.
Points worth considering are making sure food is cooked well enough (red juice inside chicken rings a bell), preventing food contamination, keeping hands clean enough to handle foods, and having a clean water source.
For The Kids
Having a few easy cook camping food recipes for the kids is a nice touch, just something that’s fun and of course yummy…
Enjoy Your Camp food
Tip: Some of the most simplest methods and ideas usually work the best…
Some of the camping food ideas and tips provided will certainly help make camp cooking and preparing easier, practical and enjoyable.
If you have any ideas that you can share and think would be useful here, please do let us know. If they are suitable for this site then we can publish them on your behalf.