Conserving Fridge Space while Dry Camping…

For us, summer always means a few camping trips.  Dry camping, camping trips.  You know, no KOA store, no electrical plug in, no unlimited water…
Now, unlike some, our family LOVES to dry camp – and over the years we have learned a few tips that make it easier to last a week in a remote location without having to leave camp to restock supplies.   For our family, we don’t want to give up the healthier foods that have to be stored in the fridge or freezer in exchange for boxed foods that are often not good for you.  With 13 people in one rv, we have learned a few tricks to conserving space in the refrigerator and I thought that I would share 2 of my favs here;
~Repackage foods – often times there is a lot of wasted space in the packaging of everything from sandwich meat to shredded cheese.  Ziploc bags are our friend 🙂 – they are great for repackaging foodstuffs, and they can be formed to fit anywhere in the fridge.  They are also great for storing left overs in, which saves dishwater (and dish washing time) later.  
~Precook – (then repackage :)) – prepare foods as much as possible at home, where you have ample countertop space and (most importantly) unlimited water and a dishwasher!  Foods like taco meat or sloppy joe mix can be seasoned and precooked, then packaged into a baggie and placed in the fridge or freezer depending on where you can fit them…  We also prepare foods as much as possible – carrots and onions for cooking can be presliced so that all you have to do is open the bag and dump them in.  We take a look at our menu for the trip and see what precooking/preparation we can do in advance to free up our time at the campsite.  These save time and effort when we want to be out enjoying the great outdoors.

little girl eating popsicle in rvBecause there are a few of us, we have a hard time fitting in the foods that we want to take in our little rv fridge and freezer.  For us, one of the biggest ‘treats’ of camping is just that – the treats!   As much as possible, we try to choose snacks that don’t have to be stored in the fridge.  Sometimes it means snacks that we don’t normally have in the house.  If you can choose items that don’t always have to be in the fridge or freezer, it frees up space for other perishables.  Some of my kids favorite snacks for hot summer days can be stored in the cupboard until we have cleared out some room in the freezer, and then we can place them in the freezer – this is also great because we can continuously restock those frozen treats, and are not limited to what we could fit in when we started out.  Some of our favs are:  Otter Pops (these are the real ‘otter pops’, and the ones that we get are 100% juice – we find them at Costco, and buy a whole summer’s worth in the spring since our store doesn’t stock these all the time) and Fruit Chillers (real juice/pulp tubes sonewhat similar to otter pops – these can be found near the canned fruits in your grocery store) – both of these are healthy alternatives to the sugar-laden fast freeze drink tubes, that are out there.  The kids also like Go-Gurts frozen, but they have to be kept either in the fridge or frozen right away.  Another snack the kids enjoy while camping is jello – my kids think it’s a treat if we make it in small disposable cups – and we can wait to make it until later in our trip when there is room in the fridge.

We are sure looking forward to the warm weather (which has yet to come to Montana!) so that we can get out there and enjoy camping with our family.   And if I don’t have to stress about how to fit in enough perishables, it makes the trip more fun for mom too!

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  1. Colleen Phipps

    Dana T. Loved your article so I went back and tracked down many of the others regarding organization. Hope you are getting paid for these blog articles because you are doing a great job on them.

  2. What a nice comment! Thanks Colleen!!!
    I’m so glad that some of my posts have been of help or encouragement to you! (and yes, I do get a small stippend for writing them – currently, it takes 6 posts to fill up hubby’s truck that pulls the toy hauler! LOL!;) )

  3. June Morrissey

    I enjoyed reading your post. We have a truck camper with very little storage space so I have to make the best of what I have. I am tired of living out of a duffle bag so for our upcoming trip I purchased 4 stackable shelves which are made for the inside of kitchen cabinets. I have stacked then inside the closet. While I am giving up half the room for hanging clothes, I now have 4 large shelves for storing all the shorts, shirts, sweaters, bathing suits, etc. I have rolled each one up to take up the least amount of room. We can also use the clothes rod that hangs in our small bathroom for jackets and raingear. If you have any other ideas for economizing on space I would be happy to hear about them. Thanks!!

  4. Janet

    One request for campers who like to repackage… PLEASE buy the Evolve band storage bags as they use less plastic to make them. No need to put more into the landfill than necessary!

  5. Thanks for the tips Dana!! When my family goes camping we always bring a tonne of pre made sandwiches in Ziploc bags. We also bring nuts and a bunch of other perishable foods.