Storing food can be a real challenge for the first time camper and making sure fresh food stays in good condition is the key. Tinned food and non perishables can be stored in a box or plastic container but fresh food requires an esky or ice box, or if car camping, a car fridge.
Eskies come in a bewildering array of materials and functions but as a general rule the thicker ‘ice box’ style eskies are the best and will hold block ice for up to five days depending on ambient temperatures, positioning and how often they are opened.
Block ice will last much longer than party or cube ice and the best way to get block ice is to fill up two litre juice or soft drink bottles with water and freeze them weeks before your trip. This ensures that not only do the contents of your esky stay dry but you also have another supply of drinking water when the ice does eventually melt.
Snap lock bags and sealable plastic containers are very handy for storing food and frozen, pre-prepared meals such as pasta sauces or curries in sealed plastic containers also function as an ice substitute until they defrost.
Car fridges are becoming more popular and when used in conjunction with an auxiliary battery and solar panels it is possible to travel for months without having to plug into power.
Some people like to use the car fridge as a freezer and ice maker and use an esky for fresh food with the car fridge supplying ice, some models of car fridge operate as a fridge and a freezer.
Lightweight camping means luxuries like eskies and car fridges don’t have a place and dehydrated or dried foods are the key options. Supermarkets, particularly the world food section can have a surprising number of nutritious boil-in-the-bag options and specialist camping and hiking stores will carry a selection of just add water or boil in the bag options.
Rice is a great dinner staple, with wraps a great lunch and breakfast option. Wraps or flatbreads are the unsung heroes of camping; they come in a waterproof container, are flat packed, don’t need refrigeration and can be filled with tuna, dried salami, sprouts, cheese or any combo that appeals to the tastes of your family.
Peanut paste and jam is a classic and Nutella and banana for is a dessert favourite.
Trail mix (aka scroggin); a mix of nuts and dried fruits, is a great high energy snack for all camping types, biscuits are always handy and chocolate is an essential addition.
Meats are best cryovacced and frozen, this will keep them fresh for a week in a fridge or esky with ice. Most butchers will also cryovac marinated meats or even prepared sauces Store food in sealed containers so animals can’t get to it and ensure that any food remnants are picked up and carried out. Food attracts rodents and other native animals who will chew through packs and plastic once trained where to find food, possums are particularly good at this.