Extended Trip Food Management Strategies

Discussion in 'I Smell Something Cooking!' started by McFlyfi, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

    Aug 1, 2014
    Thousand Oaks CA
    I am in the early (very early) trip planning stage for a 4-week trip in July of 2019 that would go from Southern California to Crater Lake, though Idaho with a stop near Sun Valley, on to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Then back to Southern California via Las Vegas for a few days. We would be staying at each of these places for three to five full days each. There probably will be a couple of 2-day drives that would entail staying at a motel.

    I obviously cannot take 4 weeks’ worth of food, and for anyone that has done an extended trip, I was curious about managing/procuring food along the way. I would have the first 5 days food on board; this would take care of the first stop in Crater Lake. After that…

    I am thinking a shopping list for each leg of the trip, and finding a local supermarket along the road between camping stops to re-supply.
    tenttrailer likes this.
  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I only went on a two week trip. The problem about finding a grocery store along the way, is your meat will not be frozen from the start, so it may not last as long. To get around this problem I just brought two weeks worth of frozen meat and had two coolers. One was only meat and hardly ever opened. The other, my everyday cooler. I only went to the store for fresh vegetables, fruits, bread etc. Although you may be limited to what is available in the area. I did bring some box/can goods for my whole trip from home but did buy some too. My second part of my trip I was going through deep country hardly a sole was around so had to shop for part two of my trip a day before. I did research to spot any grocery stores near the area's I was to be and thanks to Google sometimes able to see their parking lot. So could determine if it's feasible to visit with the camper.
  3. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2017
    Maplewood, MN
    I once took a 17 day trip through similar parts of the country - Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Badlands, etc. We just stopped at grocery stores on the road. With good cooler/fridge management, it isn't too big of deal.

    Other options are to pack some freeze dried food or to vacuum seal some items to keep them fresh. Some of the freeze dried stuff isn't too bad and you can vacuum seal more than just highly perishable items.
  4. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    There are grocery stores, general stores, or convenience stores just about everywhere. Don't overthink it, we just wing it and buy what we need when we need it.
    xxxapache and kcsa75 like this.
  5. MsMac

    MsMac Active Member

    May 19, 2016
    For our longer trips, the strategy is to take what we would take for our 3-4 day trips and plan to stop to re-stock as necessary.

    For our upcoming trip (which takes us through Crater Lake as our first stop as well :) ), the plan is to have enough stuff to get us to Lake Tahoe and stop in Carson City to a "real supermarket" on our way back to the CG after we finish our day of sight-seeing. After that, we'll see what we can do down by Yosemite when we're there for a week. But really, as Customer said, we basically just wing it. Fortunately, food options abound in most places.
  6. pilgrim

    pilgrim Member

    Oct 4, 2012
    Dry ice and good coolers to start the trip. Restock after a week or so. Research to see if you can get more dry ice. Repeat and repeat, IF possible.
  7. sgip2000

    sgip2000 Member

    Jun 16, 2010
    Hillsboro, OR
    I carry my Edgestar 12v refrigerator in the truck bed or in the toy hauler. Made a cord for it that plugs into the 7-way in the truck bed so it can run while on the road. Has worked great!
  8. tdiller

    tdiller Active Member

    Aug 25, 2016

    We usually try to find a grocery store once we have set up camp. It gives us a chance to get the lay of the area. We used to have an atlas with all the Walmart locations in it. I jokingly told my wife we were on a Walmart tour.
    Redbird934 likes this.
  9. Adirondack PUP

    Adirondack PUP Active Member

    May 8, 2015
    Upstate New York
    I would start the trip with 5 days like you mentioned. I would then take along any hard to find non-perishable items that you might like in your meal plan that would otherwise be difficult to find on the road.

    After 5 days I would make it up as I go. Buying food along the way. Sometimes my cravings change on longer trips and the items I packed ahead of time don't seem so appealing.

    Enjoy your trip and the planning that goes into! 4 weeks is very cool!
    Jim49525 likes this.
  10. Douggro

    Douggro Active Member

    Jul 26, 2017
    Seattle, WA
    For the perishables like meat and dairy, that's a sensible plan. I'm addicted to using my FoodSaver for pre-packing meats and pre-cooked meals and throwing them in the freezer before our trip, then as others have suggested, a dedicated (quality) cooler for those items; dry ice and infrequent access should help them keep for many days.
  11. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

    Oct 15, 2006
    Graceville, Florida
    I am a solo canoe camper as well as TT camping . I dehydrate a lot of my food. Here is a couple of ideas, take all non-perishable food and re-package everything this saves a lot of space and weight. I usually vacuum seal them but zip lock bags will work. For perishables you can freeze the meats and use dry ice in your cooler (wrapped in newspaper as the dry ice will burn the meats. There is a large amount of "just add water" foods out there this day and time.
    I use a portable ice maker with our TT, it makes 21 lbs. of ice a day and as long as you keep filling the reservoir it makes ice, (last trip I gave 1/2 cooler of ice away to neighbor campers, there is also a large selection of pre-cooked meats now too, Bacon is a favorite that I use, no reefer required just throw in the pan and heat. also MRE's are available now too. Just stroll the isles of your favorite store and check out the items. Most important (to me anyway)is make a menu and (try to go with it :)) so you will know what to pack. Good luck and Happy Camping
    Sotovoce and Jim49525 like this.
  12. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

    Jun 14, 2014
    You are thinking along the same lines as I do for a long trip. We just took a three week trip this year and here is the strategy we employed. In addition to the fridge in the camper - which we run on propane, we bring along one cooler which is targeted to frozen items. We actually plan out a spreadsheet with main meal items for each day and then suggestions for other meals. We start with the cooler full of frozen stuff, usually meats and so on and other frozen things like taco meat (precooked) and other precooked things that are frozen. Only open the cooler to get out the frozen things we need (which is pretty much for dinners). For bfast, we eat eggs, pancakes, cereal.. Lunch is usually a salad and sandwich or sometimes we cook more.

    Anyway, the frozen cooler is loaded with dry ice at the beginning of the trip. It can stay frozen for 10-12 days. After that, you need to ice up, or lots of the grocery stores now sell dry ice (Fred Meyer for example).

    As others have noted, your main issue will be getting fresh fruit and veggies, but you can plan your visits to stores to get 3-5 days of these at a time. The only issue that I would see on your trip is that if you are in YS camping, there are no real good stores in the park, so you have to stock up for that time period and for Tetons too if you go there straight from YS. So, you only need to worry about things when you are in an area without much for good stores.

    I'm going to add a suggestion to your trip around the Crater Lake area. CL is pretty, but about all you can do there is look at it. I would suggest that you actually camp somewhere up near Diamond lake or in the Newberry volcanic NM (little Crater Lake campground to be specific). There are great views, hikes and experiences in those areas. Also, swing by Craters of the Moon NM for another unique experience.

    As long as you are near stores, just plan 3-5 days ahead or enough to get you to the next store area.
    Orchid and Jim49525 like this.
  13. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    I often stop at grocery stores before camping to ensure fresh meat and fruit. I would put them in cooler stocked with ice. The other food like onions, potatoes and peppers etc i buy from Costco.
  14. pilgrim

    pilgrim Member

    Oct 4, 2012
    When maintaining coolers, whether with regular ice or dry ice, always use some towels to take up the air space as you start removing items for use. The less air space inside the cooler, the slower the melting.
    JBinNV likes this.
  15. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    DE and NH
    When we did our 8 week cross country trip back in 2001 (with 2 kids) we didn't even know exactly where we were going, let alone what we were going to eat and when.

    We just winged it and had a fantastic trip. There are stores in most places.

    When heading into No-man's land just have a few days of non-refridgerated stuff (pasta etc) and water on board in case you can't find a store.

    Today you have smartphones that make finding things MUCH easier.
    Sotovoce, kcsa75 and Redbird934 like this.
  16. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Sounds like fun! Unless you have both a decent size fridge and freezer, that both run on propane, you will have to buy as you go. The overnight hotel stays leave the only other choice as coolers. I personally would not want to fool with coolers for that length of time.

    I'm dealing with a similar issue right now, as we are leaving on a two week trip shortly. We will be staying in one place so thinking about buying a small freezer for our pup. Everything still will have to ride in coolers to our destination, but once there, will be able to unpack.

    This is the main thing I dislike about having a pup. I want a big fridge and freezer like bigger campers have. Even if I could afford a big 2 or 3 way, it would not fit in the camper with the roof down.
    Halford likes this.
  17. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    Let you know that High Wall (HW) popups do have bigger fridge that comes with freezer. and even have oven.
    Orchid likes this.
  18. GalsofEscape

    GalsofEscape Active Member

    Nov 26, 2013
    Indeed they do- We took our highwalll pup on a two week trip from Maryland to Yellowstone and back. It had the slightly bigger fridge with a small freezer - it was great but still not big enough to handle two weeks worth of food - we restocked at a grocery store after one week into our trip and we still ate out a bit. Could not put alot of meat in that small freezer, but enough to stretch our time between grocery stores. We still had a cooler in the car for lunch stuff and drinks to eat while on the road so we did not have to get to the fridge while traveling.
    I know that people say it is took much work to set up a popup for just an overnight, but we did not find that so - maybe it is also a highwall thing. We did not use hotels at all on our trip, it really was not too difficult to pull into a campground, pop up the roof, pull out the beds and dinette and sleep overnight. We did not set up the awning or outside chairs and we were able to leave the bedding on the beds when we packed up. All the inside stuff that we would normally had to set up like hanging shelves stayed home - we only took stuff we thought we would need. Everything fit in the camper, even the suitcases. Come morning, we would have a bowl of cereal, push in the beds and dinette, drop the roof, hitch up and be on our way. we often were pulling out by 8 am.
    (oh yes - we loved the oven, we had cookies and cinnabuns!!)

    To the OP, sounds like a wonderful trip, hope you have a great time!
    Orchid likes this.
  19. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    Here's what we have done in the past, broken down into two areas, one when we had the pup and one for the TT.

    With the pup longest trips we took were 10 days, some of those were spent in a single campground, others were spent in multiple campgrounds. What we generally did was load up the two coolers with ice blocks and usually enough food for two days at a time (that is how long the homemade ice blocks would last). We would restock on the third, sixth and ninth days (day 6 would also be laundry day as well), Keep in mind after reaching the first (or only campground) some food would then be kept in the fridge. Now this only changed if we were spending the entire trip in the States, then we would take enough food with us from home to make meals for the first day plus breakfast the following morning, then we would hit the grocery stores and do our usual stock up.

    With the TT our longest trips have been up to 16 days and have all included multiple campgrounds.. Since the TT has a much larger fridge and freezer the the pup had, we stock about a three to four days supply of food in the fridge/freezer. The re-stocking depends on what we are doing in those days, if we are out and about seeing the area and touring around we might stop into a store or two and grabs a couple things. Again day 5 or 6 is slated for laundry day so while were out visiting the local laundromats we also check out the stores and re-stock. Since we have a larger freezer, we'll often grab more then we need and just fill the freezer with different foods for different meals.. For the last two years we have not had hamburgers for dinner while at the campground (we have had them while on the road) but we have had things like roasts and cooked hams from the freezer..

    Tip for you: Once you have your stops picked out, search the local area for what grocery chains are in the area (Top's, kroger's etc) and then check out the chain online, since many of them have loyalty cards that not only get you some super deals but can save you money and save you money on gas fill ups. I have cards for Tops (if we are in NY State or PA) and Krogers for our next trips through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.. Best part is because I live outside the States, I don't get any junk email from any of these places...
  20. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    Basically the same here. We leave with a full fridge/freezer and pantry, then buy stuff along the way as we want or need it.

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