Experience comes from mistakes made and lessons learnt. I would like to share some of the lessons I have learned in the hope that they may make your camping experiences easier. These are all things that I have experienced when I started. You learn quickly!
Before investing in a proper fridge I travelled with a cooler box ( short trips ).
Everything went into the cooler box, I should not have mixed meat and salad ingredients as on day three once the ice melted meat juice was everywhere. Fortunately, I had tinned ingredients and was able to handle the remaining two meals. The solution is to take a cooler box for meat and one for salads and vegetables. This avoids contamination and waste. If you can vacuum pack stuff, then it will be safe as the ice melts. A good cooler box can keep ingredients chilled for up to 5 days.
Then you have the problem of not using enough ice, I have found that one-third ice and two-thirds product is the correct ratio. If you freeze your meat that can increase the capacity. I use a mix of frozen bricks and containers or bottles of frozen water. As they thaw you can drink the water. Layer the containers evenly through the cooler box to protect the product. Be careful in your choice of salad ingredients and keep them as a top layer as many do not take kindly to being frozen.
Then comes the problem of forgetting butter or oil, I solved this by having dedicated containers that are labelled and keeping them in my camp kitchen box. Butter resides with the salad in the cooler. I use an old bottle for oil and small containers for butter.
This was never a problem for me but it was something that I had noticed on numerous occasions. Bad hygiene with regards to cutting boards. I have seen people cutting meat or chicken and using the same board for cheese and salad. This is a big no! I take a few boards and use one for meat, one for salads and vegetables and the last one for fruit and cheese. I even thought of labelling them but have not done that yet. Wooden boards look better, I feel that plastic boards are easier to clean.
Then we get to the cooking and cleaning in the dark. I use a headlamp and an LED lamp that when charged lasts for at least three nights. I take a few other lamps and a neon lamp that runs from my lighter socket.
Cleanliness is critical I have watched people washing dishes and simply allowing them to drip dry. I like to wash and rinse so follow a process. I clean the dishes, dispose of the residue, soak them then scrub them. Finally, rinse in clean water with a touch of bleach and air dry.
My pet hate is people who burn themselves, and I have. Use gloves and tongs, it’s simple. Keep distance from any type of flame.
Then sadly we get the hangers-on, those folk who are supposed to help but just manage to sneak around the camp. Perhaps they can put on some music or even pour a juice, just to contribute.
On a trip look at the person with the most relevant and valid medical qualification, they will look after the group but need to have the kit.
You also need to ensure that you can start a fire, that’s important.
Lastly only open your cooler box when necessary, this will prevent the ice from melting. Happy camping!