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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Everything says fall is here: football games, pumpkins, mums and cooler weather. With
the arrival of cooler weather, you may be looking forward to airing out the pop-ups
and tents and getting back to nature with a slower pace, fresh air, exercise, and
old-fashioned outdoor cooking.
Unfortunately, foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly in warm outdoor temperatures, and
food poisoning is the last thing a happy camper needs.
Keeping food cold when you are camping is a big issue. If you let foods get in the
temperature danger zone, you are asking for a food borne illness to visit.
When preparing your shopping list, you will need to plan your meals. Think about what
foods you plan to bring and if whether they need refrigeration prior to eating. Your
cooler has to accommodate all food items that must be kept cold. If you only have
one cooler for food and drinks, then you need to plan some meals that do not require
the ingredients be kept cold.
Ice down your cooler in advance, so the core is cool when you are ready to pack it.
Use ice packs, frozen water bottles, and block ice, or even cubed ice, although cubed
ice will melt faster. Then, the next day when food goes into a cold cooler as opposed
to a warm one, your food will stay safe longer.
Pack as many ice packs as you can fit into the ice chest and around the food. Too
many ice packs/bottles is never a bad thing. If you have space, add more ice packs.
The less air that circulates around the items, the more beneficial it is for keeping
When traveling, keep the ice chest in the passenger section, not in the back or trunk
where temperatures soar. Keep the chest out of the sun at all times. In warmer weather,
put a tarp or blanket over it as well. You may need to move it several times during
the day to keep it out of the sun.
If you have room, take two chests – one for drinks and one for food. This keeps the
ice chest from being opened all the time to get drinks out, especially with children
who seem to always want a drink.
Pack your ice chest in reverse order with frozen food and raw meats (packaged in leak
proof containers) at the bottom and near the ice packs. Then layer the food so items
needing less refrigeration such as fresh fruit and vegetables are at the top. Pack
the smallest size of foods needed.
Access to water could be a problem. If running water is available at or near your
campsite or tailgate, wash hands before handling food and anytime they touch something
that is not clean. Utensils and dishes used with raw meat, fish, and poultry must
be washed before being used with cooked foods or foods that will be eaten without
If you are camping and not sure about the availability of water, pack bottled water
for drinking or mixing with food. Always assume that stream and river waters are not
safe to drink.
If no safe water supply is available, or your bottled water supply is limited, use
disposable wipes to clean your hands when working with food.
Take as few pots as possible. Carry items that fit inside each other. You can use
aluminum foil wrap and pans for cooking, but take garbage bags to carry these items
back to appropriate disposal sites.Leftover food should be burned, not dumped, if allowed by camping site. Some National
Parks forbid open fires. If burning is not allowed, pack leftover food back out with
you and dispose of later. If using soap to clean pots, wash the pots at camp, not
at the water’s edge. Dump dirty water on dry ground, away from fresh water.
Now that you are prepared for camping, try this packet meal for your next campout.
The foil packets make for easy clean up and it’s loaded with vegetables.
Grilled Chicken with Vegetables Packet Meal
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, cubed into 1 inch pieces
3/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
1/2 pound red potatoes, quartered
1 large onion, sliced
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
Preheat grill for high heat. On large sheet of heavy-duty foil, place chicken and
all vegetables. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with oil and toss. Tightly seal
foil around the ingredients, leaving only a small opening. Pour water into the opening
and seal. Place foil packet on grill. Cook 20 minutes, turn, and then cook about 20
minutes more, until chicken is done and vegetables are tender. Carefully open packet
due to steam.
For more information contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at
the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at email@example.com, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS,
on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
By Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
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