While useful tips like making a mini air conditioner may come in handy some day, chances are you’re more likely to take your stocked cooler out on a camping trip than screwing its lid to make a portable AC. Or you may be surprised to learn that this portable fridge can help you serve cool delectable treats like mini trifles, but the fact remains that you’ll need to get your produce to the destination without spoiling it first and foremost. In this blog post, we’re going to delve into the depths and know-hows of keeping your food fresh on the road and all through your camping trip, from start to finish.

1. First things first, find the right coolers.

Quality and quantity are relative here. The higher the quality of the cooler, the more amount of stuff it will keep fresh, not to mention for a much longer time.

2. Bring at least two coolers.

One for food and the other for beverages. During your trip, chances are you’ll open the cooler for the latter more often than the former and you don’t want the warmer temperature outside to get in more than necessary. Keep your coolers insulated or in a dark corner of your trunk when traveling. No sunlight!

3. Ice choice, baby.

While crushed ice and ice cubes cool your food and drinks faster, we maintain that block ice is the best option: it lasts for days. And don’t just picture huge square chunks of ice! The possibilities are endless. Freeze drinking water in milk jugs or bottles and use them as cheaper alternatives to block ice. What’s more, you’ll have extra fluids to keep you hydrated when the ice melts.

4. Pre-cool your provisions.

Your food and drinks should be pre-cooled. While we’ve suggested packing canned meats for shorter trips, it’s perfectly okay, if healthfully better, to pack fresh meat and other perishables (#EatLessProcessedMeat). Try to bring the freshest and most recent buys that have been cooled or frozen only the night before.

5. Pack the food cooler right ’n tight.

Right: If you’ve got some extra time, it’s highly recommended you get a little DIY with your cooler. Instead of placing your items directly on block ices, organize your cooler first in different sections with racks and small baskets. Note that the main rack should be 5 inches off the bottom of the cooler, which will be filled with ice.

Tight: Fill your cooler up wisely and to the brim. Empty space makes maintaining a temperature below 40 degrees difficult. If you see some room left for packets of condiments and tidbits, use it. Fill it with crushed ice packs is another good idea.

6. And most importantly…

Coolers are considered portable fridges but it’s safe to remember that they aren’t the same: it’s harder to re-cool food in the coolers. In a hot day where the the temperature is over 90 degrees, be sure to put perishable items back in the cooler within an hour otherwise bacteria will have grown to the point where your cooler, however well-tended, is not enough to keep the food fresh.