Is camping or hiking on your agenda for this summer? If they are, then making a plan for safe, healthy and, of course, fun and tasty foods is also a must. We know we need plenty of fluids and energy bars are easy to pack, but there’s more to consider if you’re planning to be out for more than a couple of hours.
The following are some tips to help you have a nourishing and safe food experience on your next outdoorsy adventure!
- Start with a plan. When you are active and outdoors, your fluid and energy needs are usually higher, so think ahead about your situation. Will you be able to bring a cooler? Does everything need to fit into a back pack? How long are you going to be gone? All those sorts of questions will determine the best plan for what to bring along.
- What’s easy to carry and who has to carry it? If you’re going on a day trip, then select easy-to-carry non-perishable foods. Some good options are trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and of course liquids such as bottled water or sports drinks. Avoid items that melt, are perishable and bulky. Letting children carry their own packs can be fun for them — for awhile — but be prepared to help out when they get tired.
- Longer trips require more thought. Having a cooler provides more options, but it is important to keep that food safe. Doing some or all of the preparation of sandwiches or salads ahead of time can save time and be more efficient when you arrive at your destination. This also allows them to be pre-chilled before putting them in the insulated cooler. Also include foods that are ready-to-eat (cereal), easy to eat (apples and oranges), come in individual packets (nuts and pouches of meat) and can be reconstituted with boiling water (dried soups, hot cereal or pasta). Remember to bring the marshmallows for a campfire dessert!
- Practice good food-handling procedures. When the temperatures are warm and the refrigeration capabilities are limited, it is a perfect recipe for bacteria to multiply. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling food; use moist towelettes or wipes if need be. Keep perishable foods cold (below 40 degrees). Be sure to cook meats to a safe internal temperature. Don’t cross-contaminate by using the same plate for raw and cooked food.
Now, get out and enjoy all that summer has to offer!