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ATTN: Car Tent Campers....food thoughts?

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What have you had the best luck with as far as packing and storing food? I have an idea of what I think we'll do and I'm wondering if you agree or have a better idea.
11 years ago, May 11th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #72497  
Well, I finally figured out what car camping means. I think. Driving to your destination as opposed to hiking, correct?



I am thinking that for our three week trip across the country that we'll take some staple foods for while we're on the road and for if we're at a site that doesn't have a grill, only a campfire pit, including:

    Sandwich makings (bread, mustard, meat, cheese)
    Crackers
    Apples & Bananas
    Packaged tuna


That we'll store in a cooler packed with ice, of course.

Then, if we're at a place that does have a grill available, the sky is the limit as far as what we can make and we could stop at a local store to pick up fresh food to make for as many nights as we'll be at that location. Does this sound like a good plan or am I missing something?

Did any of you buy one of those metal stands you can tote around with you and put over a campfire to grill on? Is it worth it? Do most sites you've come across come standard with some kind of grilling area?

What have you found travels and keeps well for road trips to avoid eating junk food for most of the trip?


This forum is the BEST. You guys have fantastic insight and I really appreciate it! Reply to this

11 years ago, May 11th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #72526  
Yep - that is car camping. Driving into a campsite, really.

Most sites (almost all sites you pay for, not always the free sites) will have a grate over the fire-pit that you can use for cooking. Few have grills where you can use charcoal briquettes - more likely found in state and city parks. When we found one that didn't have a grill or fire pit, it was time to break out the PB&J sandwiches.

Your plan sounds good. Basically, unless you want to eat junk, there are plenty of non-perishable food items in the grocery stores. You just have to make a stop every few days to keep yourself stocked in the perishable goods. We also kept nuts, dried fruit and granola bars on hand for the those moments when we really couldn't eat another sandwich, and just wanted a quick snack.

If you have a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven you can cook over a fire-pit just like you would over a stove top. We also had a tea-kettle/water pot to boil water, and if you have boiling water you can make a wide array of "quick convenience foods" - pasta, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes. We also ate a lot of canned goods - soups, chili, stews, vegetables. Campfire spaghetti? No problem. Scrambled eggs for breakfast? Totally do-able. You just have to watch whatever you're cooking more closely because there is lesser heat control (things tend to cook faster over a roaring fire).

When we had a cooler with ice we found it lasted around two days before melting. Kept things cold for an additional day in the cold melty ice-water. We stored eggs, mayo, cheese, lunch meats and yogurt in there (just don't store anything packaged in cardboard - it gets wet).

The one item that we found very difficult to keep was ice-cream. I know, who tries storing ice-cream overnight on a camping trip? But we did, and it didn't work. Other than that, though, there are very few restrictions with car-camping since you don't have to worry about weight. Don't waste your time spending money on "camp food" - dehydrated meals that you can rehydrate with water. Those are good for hiking because they're light weight, but a complete waste of money otherwise.

Reply to this

11 years ago, May 11th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #72548  
Greetingz
It should be noted that the more popular the campground, the more likely they are to have a "no firewood collecting" rule. This is usually more true further in the west. Also, you could run into very dry areas in the west (we have) where a "no open fire" rule is in effect due to fire danger. We have found it handy to take along a hot plate and extension cord or a single burner "camp stove" for making coffee or oatmeal in the mornings and/or potatoes & whatever for supper. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 13th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #72730  
B Posts: 602
Also - with some campgrounds - if there are bear in the area, you are going to want a bear box to keep your food in. A cooler will be torn open by the bear and make a great deal of trouble for yourself. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 14th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #72745  
We will have our car we can keep the cooler in........that would suffice wouldn't it?


Thank-you, thank-you for all the input everyone!! Reply to this

11 years ago, May 14th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #72746  
Keeping the cooler in the car works practically everywhere except for Yosemite - you MUST place them in the bear boxes because back in the day when people thought feeding the bears from cars was fun and entertaining they inadvertently created families of bears that taught their cubs that people = food (and by that I mean that bears like to eat the junk food and food remants people leave behind, not that people actually are food) There was a bear break-in in one of the cars in the parking lot overnight while we were there (the bear was after an empty soda can). Rangers WILL ticket and sanction you if you don't comply.

But bear boxes are provided at all campsites in Yosemite so it shouldn't be an issue. Elsewhere, keep the cooler in the car and food out of your tent and you should be fine. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 14th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #72795  
B Posts: 602
It is the same thing at Yellowstone. I don't know if they are provided at the campsites, but will find out this summer when I go.

Many of the bears are moved out of the park after they have attacked a vehicle or something like that. So don't assume it is a local bear. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 14th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #72815  
They have a few bear boxes at Yellowstone in the campgrounds but you're also allowed to keep food stored in your car as long as it's not in plain view (but Lee Ann if you're camping in the back-country you're right that you will need to take extra measures - a certain distance away from you, stored properly etc).

One of our rangers encountered a bear on a back-country trail - if you see one it will probably be there. The bears in Yellowstone rarely are seen in the congested areas of campsites and main sites. Far too many people. The buffalo....well that's another story. We had one wander into camp and just sit right down in the middle of things. Looks like you can see one of the brown bear-boxes in the center of the photo too. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 14th 2009 No: 9 Msg: #72817  
B Posts: 602
Buffalo go where they want to LOL. One minute they are quiet and still and the next they will charge. We have a buffalo ranch not far from here. It is difficult to keep hired hands on one of those.

Cool picture.
Reply to this

11 years ago, May 15th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #72832  
So what's special about a bear box anyway? Is it scent proof or just locked down tight so they can't break in?? Reply to this

11 years ago, May 15th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #72849  
It does have a very strong locking mechanism (or at least, one that a bear can't figure out. It's not actually locked). Not certain on the scent-proofness. I would think it would be something like that. The permanent ones in the campgrounds are made of a very heavy metal. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 15th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #72874  
Do Buffalo charge people? Reply to this

11 years ago, May 18th 2009 No: 13 Msg: #73122  
B Posts: 602
Buffalo are very unpredictable. There are times they will stand there and do nothing. This is how the buffalo hunters would be able to sit atop a hill and just pick them off without threat and they would not run. Then again they will all of a sudden start to charge. And yes they will charge people. You always want to be down wind from the buffalo. Reply to this

11 years ago, May 18th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #73132  
Good to know! Reply to this

11 years ago, May 31st 2009 No: 15 Msg: #74466  
Hello Suzanne 😊

Bulgar wheat may be worth considering as an alternative to rice. It is available in Turkish and some Middle Eastern shops. It is good for camping because it is stored dry, and to cook it you just have to add boiling water and cover until all the water is absorbed. No cooking, appart from the water boiling involved. And it tastes as good as rice too and seems healthy(I dont know exactly what the nutritional info about it is).

Mel Reply to this

11 years ago, May 31st 2009 No: 16 Msg: #74515  
Good to know...thanks Mell! Reply to this

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