What to Put In Your Cooler

We’ve been talking for a few weeks about tips for getting the most out of your cooler, but the elephant in the room when it comes to camping and road trips is: what should I put IN my cooler? Hot dogs and sausage, the traditional noms of the camping trip, are far from healthy. And, let’s face it, if you’re cooking over the fire for a week, they get really boring really fast. We found some great inspiration on GaiamLife.

Veggie kebabs.
Veggie Kebabs / Connie Ma / CC BY 2.0


What better way to get your veggies on vacation than eating them off a stick? Chop at home and bring along in a sealed container for easy meal prep, especially if you pack your bamboo skewers in a freezer bag with water to pre-soak them on the go. Clean-up is a cinch–just toss those bamboo skewers into the flames.

Fish Packets

Many types of fish earn Guiding Stars–including many of the kinds you’re likely to catch on vacation. Load them up with lemon or tomato or herbs and steam them in the coals for a fabulous, luxurious meal you can eat right out of the foil. Need a recipe to get you started? Try our Baked Fish, Spinach and Tomatoes in Foil Packets (3 Guiding Stars)

Grilled Fruit

Don’t where out the novelty of s’mores by toasting marshmallows every night. Get your sweet on with seasonal fruits. Peaches, cherries, apples, plums–whatever your favorite fruit it, grilling it will concentrate the sugars for a guilt-free dessert. For a little extra calorie-free yum, bring along a few spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom all pair well with many fruits.


Not only is oatmeal shelf-stable, the quick cooking oats need nothing more than a kettle of boiling water. Grill up a little extra fruit for the next morning’s breakfast or follow Expert Chef Erin Dow’s advice for DIY Flavored Instant Oatmeal for a filling meal that will keep you energized for a long, hard day of play.