Things You Don’t Need To Pack In Your Cooler

collage of items you don't need to refridgerate
There are a lot of things you can keep out of your cooler that you might not have thought of.

Things you don’t need to pack in your cooler is something I wish I’d had when I started camping in earnest.  I had started doing most, if not all, of the cooking for our family and friends. The number of people I cooked for on a long weekend camping trip ranged from five to fifteen people on a regular basis. We had three coolers, and no matter how I tried I could never get everything packed in!

I knew canned goods were fine outside the coolers, and stuff like sugar, teabags and flour.  But it took a good many camping trips before I had all the unnecessaries out, and just the stuff that really needs to be in the cooler, in. For a long weekend, not very much needs to go into a cooler:



other items you don’t need to put in the cooler for a long weekend:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Other salty condiments, such as soy sauce and fish sauce
  • Other vegetables such as tomatoes, avocados, eggplants, bell peppers, squash, pumpkins and green beans
  • Honey, maple syrup, molasses (maple syrup should be refridgerated for long-term storage, but a long weekend is fine)
  • Coffee
  • Other fruits such as bananas, pineapple, melons and quinces
  • Vinegars, steak sauce, hot sauce
  • Olive oil and other vegetable oils
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter, jams and jellies
  • Relishes and pickles

what to pack in your cooler:

  • Fresh milk
  • Other dairies such as sour cream, yogurt and cheeses
  • Meats
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ice
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Leafy greens (to keep them crisp)

Even in summer, you will find that the majority of items you take don’t need a cooler for the long weekend.  And in fall and winter, that time extends to a week, or indefinitely if it’s freezing out!

Happy camping!


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