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1. Homemade “Ice Packs”

The night before you leave, fill up several water bottles and put them in the freezer. When you pack your cooler the next day, use these as ice packs! Once thawed, these full water bottles are ready to go into your daypack when you head off on a hike. You can also freeze juice boxes and milk cartons but these will thaw more quickly than plain water. Do you ever buy boxed wine? Once the wine is gone, wash out the bag, fill with water and freeze. The bag serves as an ice pack until thawed – then use the water for washing your hands.

2. Fruits & Veggies

Wash fruits and vegetables before adding them to the cooler - it’s so much easier to do this at home. Durable fruit like apples and pears can be stored in bags without damage but softer fruits like grapes, berries and peaches need to be stored in hard plastic containers.  If you want some refreshing watermelon or cantaloupe at the campsite, cut into small chunks at home and store in containers in the cooler.  Don’t forget to include some vegetables – fresh carrots, pea pods, cucumbers and sweet peppers are all great for dipping into hummus.  Why not try this new version of hummus – made with feta cheese and white cannellini beans. Spread it on crackers that have been packed in plastic containers to prevent breakage!

3. Multipurpose Frozen Meals

The weekend before you leave, cook up some meals and freeze in resealable plastic bags or large plastic yogurt containers. Choose family favourites that freeze well like spaghetti sauce, sweet and sour meatballs or chicken curry. These meals will also serve as ice packs. Plus, the plastic bags or containers can be washed and used to store any leftovers.

4. Grated Cheese/Bricks of Cheese

Grated cheese is a tasty addition to so many meals – quesadillas, omelettes, wraps and salads. Fill up some resealable plastic bags with grated cheese and freeze ahead of time at home. A brick of cheese is also a good idea. Don’t forget to pack a knife and cutting board, too - this makes it easy to have crackers and cheese at the campsite.

5. Extra Towels

If your cooler is not full to the brim, throw in some clean old towels for extra insulation. These towels always come in handy around the campsite and a full cooler stays cold longer.

What’s in your camp cooler? Please add your suggestions in a comment below.

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