EXTENSION NEWS: Meals security suggestions for tenting and climbing | Columns


Planning on camping or hiking this summer or fall? Follow these tips from Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN to ensure you have a nutritious and safe food experience on your next outdoor adventure.

To plan. Consider the length of your trip, what groceries you’ll be taking, how you’ll eat, whether you’ll need a cooler, and what grocery items you’ll need. Be sure to have plenty of fluids for adventure and more than you would normally drink.

drink enough Drink at least 4 cups of water before a hike so you don’t have to carry as much. Then a good rule of thumb is to plan on about 2 cups of fluids per hour of hiking. Make sure you bring or have access to clean drinking water during your trek.

For a hike or a day trip, you can pack perishable foods like sandwiches. Just make sure you have a source of cold (like an ice pack) to properly chill food below 40F. The more you pack in a backpack, the harder it is to hike. Therefore, opt primarily for non-perishable foods that are relatively light and nutritious, such as trail mix, nuts, dried fruits and vegetables, energy bars, granola, whole-wheat tortillas, or beef jerky.

It can be more difficult for camping or multi-day trips. Consider easy-to-package and prep foods like ready-to-eat cereal, bags of fruit or vegetables, canned meat, packets of sauces, soups, pasta if you have a place to boil water, marshmallows for dessert around the campfire, and bottled water with powdered drink mixes. You can eat perishable foods on day one if you have a cooler, but after that, plan your meals so you have what you enjoy and need. Otherwise, add one of these durable, easy-to-pack basics to fuel yourself.

Practice food safety from packaging to serving. Remember that perishable foods cannot be stored for more than one hour in hot weather (90°F or higher) or more than two hours in mild weather. Otherwise, these foods become unsafe for consumption and should be discarded. Bring these food safety essentials: disposable wipes, hand sanitizer or biodegradable soap; bowls and plates; kettle or saucepan; eating and cooking utensils; Tin opener; ice packs, if applicable; garbage bags; portable water filters or water purification tablets; Cooler and cooked meat thermometers, if applicable.

And follow these food safety rules too. wash hands often. This includes before and after eating. If you can’t wash your hands, a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help reduce bacteria and germs. Keep raw meat and ready-to-eat foods separate. Use extra plates you’ve packed—one for raw food and one for cooked food. Cook to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure cooked food has reached a safe internal temperature. If possible, refrigerate below 40°F immediately. If you don’t have a refrigerator, pack naturally perishable foods, including meat or poultry, in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice bags to keep the temperature below 40°F. Store leftovers in small, neatly covered containers in the cooler only if it still contains ice. And keep the cool box in the coolest possible place.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife representative in Parker County.