Packing food for camping

  • Updated: June 11, 2014 - 12:40 PM

Here are tips for packing out fresh food and keeping it good:

Fresh meats

(red meat — beef, pork, buffalo, venison — is less perishable than poultry).

Plan on bringing fresh meat just for the first night (or, at the most, two nights) and buy it several days in advance of your departure. Repackage the meat and discard the Styrofoam trays or cardboard boxes. Wrap steaks, chops and larger pieces in freezer paper (shiny side in) and seal with freezer tape; pack ground meat or loose cuts (chicken thighs or breasts) in plastic zipper bag and then overwrap in freezer paper. Freeze the meat for at least a day (or until solid). Wrap the frozen meat well in several layers of newspaper and tuck it into the center of your food pack just before you leave. Depending on the weather, the meat will be thawed by the first night. Cook and enjoy it right away. (Immediately discard any meat that looks or smells suspicious (has a green edge, turned gray, smells off.)


Smoked meats

These keep better than fresh. Bacon, Canadian bacon and ham should be kept cold in a cooler and will keep up to three days on the trail.

Dry sausages such as pepperoni, sopressata and Genoa salami will keep about six weeks or even longer if kept cool.



Aged cheese tends to keep better on the trail than fresh, soft cheeses. Store cheese wrapped in butcher paper, parchment paper or waxed paper. (Do not store in plastic bags or wrapped in plastic; plastic holds in moisture and makes cheese slimy, expediting decay. Cheese needs to breathe.)

Cheeses that keep relatively well on trail without refrigeration: Parmesan, Cheddar, aged Gouda, Pecorino.

Cheeses that keep well if kept cool: mozzarella, havarti, muenster, chèvre.



Eggs can be tricky. They are safe if not cracked, but once exposed to air, they deteriorate quickly. Keep them in the egg carton and put them in a cool spot (next to the frozen meat) where they’ll keep from getting bumped.



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