No Ice – No Dice?
One critical element of camping in a tent is keeping fresh food cold … and that means ice in an air tight cooler. Before we started this adventure we experimented with not using the refrigerator -just a cooler. We went a full week with only the cooler and then three days with no ice. That meant no dairy, fresh meat or cold drinks.
Did you know that block ice lasts three times as long as ice cubes? I do now.
You also might be surprised to learn that lots of food you keep in the fridge doesn’t have to be kept cold, even though the label says “refrigerate after opening.”
Think about it … when you go into a restaurant you often see mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce and pickles on the table. So we don’t keep those sorts of items in the cooler but in a separate container.
We have a plain Coleman cooler that says ice lasts for four days and it does, as long as it isn’t too hot and we remember to keep the cooler in the shade. Here are a few tips we’ve found worked for us.
Before packing the cooler make sure everything is cold. Cold travels downward. Pack the most perishable items such as meat, chicken and diary products at the bottom of the cooler.
Pack fresh fruit and veggies on top of the ice so they don’t get crushed.
Before opening the cooler, think about what you need. If you’re preparing a meal, get everything out you’ll need. Don’t keep opening the lid.
Seal everything in zip lock bags. Ice melts. The water gets into unsealed packages. Double seal chicken and meats into two bags.
Keep a separate cooler for drinks.
Put a wet towel on the cooler lid. Evaporation keeps the temperature 10 degrees cooler.
Note to Self: Do not touch dry ice with your bare hands.