Boondocking Resource Management: Perishable Food

TheRVgeeks Great RV Products, Not Just For RVs! 17 Comments

Boondocking (camping off the grid) has become so popular, that information about managing power and water resources has cropped up everywhere. But what about perishable food?

When we head off into the wild for a few weeks, it’s not uncommon for food, particularly the perishable variety, to be less readily available, more expensive, or less than optimal quality.

Some foods simply can’t be stored for long no matter what you do, but others can be made to last a long time, if handled the right way. That’s especially true for anything that can be frozen. But even freezing isn’t perfect (we’re all familiar with “freezer burn” of course).

When we first hit the road, my mother bought us a gift that she thought would be perfect for RVers: a vacuum sealer. Despite the fact that she’d never been RVing yet, Mom was right on the money, and her gift became a staple gadget in our kitchen. We used it so much that we finally wore it out, which gave us the opportunity to replace it with the latest and greatest model.

Removing the air and freezing makes things last a long time. A really long time. We’ve vacuum sealed and frozen fresh burgers, fish, chicken, pork, lambchops, coffee and other items that come out of the freezer like new after 6 months.

We’ve even sealed blueberries (freeze them before sealing to avoid crushing them) and corn on the cob (blanch before sealing and freezing to preserve flavor).

And of course we can vacuum seal things that don’t go in the freezer. Sealing lettuce in one of the larger canisters before heading out into the boonies not only makes it last a lot longer, but saves precious water and gray tank capacity, since we can wash it ahead of time, while we’re still hooked up.

Sealing items that stay at room temperature is great, too. That half-package of crackers or chips that will get stale after opening will stray fresh inside a canister for a very long time with all the  air removed.

Here’s a great tip for maximizing bag usage: Make them larger than needed for packaging the current food you want to save. That may seem counterintuitive, and a waste of plastic, but it’s actually the opposite. When you cut the bag open, just slice off the top portion where the heat seal is… and you can wash & re-use the bag! The only part that is discarded (and is recyclable) is the small portion you cut off the top each time. The remaining bag is now still large enough to use again. We generally make our bags large enough to use at least three times, as it gets a little smaller each time you cut it open.

Hope you can use this simple little tip to enjoy some fresh fish, burgers, or other perishable items, even after you’ve been hiding out in the wilderness long after they would have gone bad in the fridge. Once things are thawed and cut out of the bag, they taste just as good as the day we bought them!

A special thanks to our dear friends, and fellow full-timers, Birgit & Greg for the use of their fridge, and to Birgit for her cameo appearance. wink


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Comments 17

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  1. You guys are amazing You have so many good ideas Headed west to southern Utah in 15 day from upstate New York Have a GREAT DAY

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      Hi Don. We haven’t done it ourselves, but we’d think that would help a lot! Of course, you don’t want to use a bag to seal fresh bread… as it will get crushed down flat! But you could freeze the bread first, and vacuum seal the loaf in a bag then. OR use a canister to keep it from getting crushed.

  2. Great tips even for everyday use. I just want to thank you guys. We’ve learned so much valuable information from you along the way and never miss a video. Save travels to you, Dawn

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  3. You mentioned you refer. Would expound a little more about your residential refer. When in the boonies how much power does it use? do you run it off the genset and inverter? Can it not run overnight and conserve power.
    Thanks for the info

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      Hi Dave,

      We haven’t run dedicated tests to see how much power the refrigerator actually uses. But it IS a fair amount. The circuit it is plugged into is powered by our inverter, so we can run the refrigerator when on shore power, when running the generator, OR off the batteries using the inverter. We have a 440 amp-hour bank of batteries (4 x 6V batteries in series-parallel), so 220 amp-hours (50% of capacity) is available to use. If we’re not using much other power (some LED lights and the 12V water pump for doing dishes, showering, etc), we can get about 24 hours out of our batteries with just the refrigerator running… but then we have to run the generator or hook up to shore power to recharge them. With our typical usage, we really only get about 12 hours use of the batteries before needing to recharge. So with the residential fridge (and if we’re in the woods without any solar charging) we end up running the generator twice a day to keep the batteries topped up.

      We haven’t done it, but lots of people have said that they turn all power off to the fridge overnight, while no one will be opening it, and they’re OK. Modern fridges are pretty well insulated, so they DO hold their cold quite well.

      Hope this helps!

      1. That is great news as to a modern refer. keeping the heat out over night. Inverters are real power hogs, and the thought of running one just for a refrig. seems kind of overkill’

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  4. Two more excellent RVgeeks tips – vacuum sealer and bigger bag size – PLUS a bonus for all of us photographers who love the drone footage. It never gets old.

    Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. I was at a rally last week when the topic of cleaning windows came up. You may be pleased to know your video was mentioned; a few of us recommended it then one person emailed the link to the group. Your videos are probably more appreciated than you realize.
    http://www.thervgeeks.com/maintenance/super-clean-your-windshield-super-fast/

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      Thanks so much, John! It’s always nice to hear that our videos are helpful.

      We’ll have to get some additional drone footage next time we’re in a special spot. We like it, too. 😊

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