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The Best 5 solutions – How to safely store food in your vehicle

When it comes to car camping or living in your car one of the most important things to consider is how you’re going to store your food. Storing your food correctly will not only help make it last longer, it can prevent it from spoiling and deter critters from finding their way into it.

In the sections below we will outline some of the best ways to store food in your car for that weekend car camping get away or living in your vehicle full time.

Best ways to safely store food in your vehicle

Esky/ coolers

Eskies/coolers/ice boxes are a great option for keeping food cold for a short period of time. Compared to other options, eskies are cheaper to buy, portable and don’t require any batteries or other equipment for them to work.

Depending how long you’re camping for, you will need to top up the cooler with more ice on average every 2 to 4 days. Which over long periods of time can quickly become a major expensive. Since coolers need ice to stay cold, remote travel isn’t quite an option as you need access to stores for ice.

Downsides to relying on coolers to store food is food becoming soggy and the inability to accurately control the temperature. Overall Eskies/ coolers are a great for short term trips however, they’re not ideal for long trips or living full time out of your vehicle.

How to safely store food in your vehicle

12v Portable Fridges

12v fridges are definitely a great option for storing food for a longer period of time. 12v fridges run off most vehicles batteries so it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as there’s power in the battery, the fridge will keep going.

Most portable fridges also have temperature settings and freezer options which allows you to have greater temperature control. Due to not needing ice that eventually melts, portable fridges are able to stay dry which means you won’t have any soggy food.

A downfall to purchasing a 12v fridge is that they can be quite expensive to buy initially, however if you are planning to live in your vehicle for long periods of time this upfront expensive is easily recoopered in money saved.

Make sure to see our choices for the best portable fridges for car and van camping.

How to safely store food in your vehicle

Storing Canned Foods in your Car

Canned foods are another great option for a longer term food storage in your vehicle. Most canned foods can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen foods and have a longer expiry date meaning they can be stored for a long period of time.

Benefits of canned foods include but are not limited to; ease of storage, durability, long shelf life and they can make quick and easy meals and don’t require refrigeration. Downfalls to relying on canned foods is that they can be high in sodium/ sugar, lack variety and can contain fewer nutrients depending on what foods you choose.

It is also important to be mindful of which canned goods you choose to store in your vehicle. High acidity canned foods, such as tomatoes or pineapple, can be prone to eating away at the cans or even exploding. Keeping your cans of food stored in a dark light proof container can not only help them stay cool but avoid premature spoilage.

MRE Foods for car camping

MRE’s (meal, ready-to-eat) are another efficient way to safely store food in your vehicle. Originally designed for military use, MRE’s will last a long periods of time and withstand rough conditions and exposure to the elements.

Each MRE bag contains an entree, side dish, snack, dessert, candy, seasoning/sauce, beverage, flameless ration heater and accessories. MRE’s are ready to eat and don’t require cooking or heating which makes them perfect for emergencies or as an easy meal that can be stored for a long period of time.

Since MRE’s were designed for soldiers, one meal contains about 1200 calories, they are more expensive to buy than regular fresher foods and they can’t be found in grocery stores. MRE’s are growing in popularity amongst civilians for recreational use and can be bought from military supply stores or even online stores.

How to safely store food in your vehicle

Freeze dried foods for vehicle living

Freeze dried foods are lightweight and have a long shelf life making them perfect for storing in your car. Freeze dried foods retain their nutritional quality, taste, shape, don’t require refrigeration and can rehydrate quite quickly.

Some freeze dried foods can be eaten as is, while others will require rehydrating with either cold or hot water. The disadvantages are that they can be expensive to buy and most meals will require hot water for rehydration. Finding freeze dried foods and meals can also sometimes be difficult through regular retail giants such as Walmart.

Things to consider when storing food in your car

Cars are known for actin similar to that of a greenhouse and are prone to getting hot, which can make it difficult to safely store food. The internal temperatures of a car can get quite warm, especially if the car is in the sun. Excess heat can cause foods to spoil faster and make them become not be safe to eat.


  • Zaara

    Zaara, a kindred spirit of the open road, has nurtured a deep-seated love for RV travel since her childhood. Journeying with her parents, she learned early on to cherish the little things that make life rich and fulfilling. This emotional depth and appreciation for simplicity have become the cornerstone of her life philosophy. A firm believer in the idea that true happiness is found in nature's embrace, Zaara continues this legacy of exploration alongside her husband, Augustus. Her passion extends beyond landscapes to the joy of connecting with life's purest forms - the unconditional love of dogs and the innocence of babies. These connections reflect her nurturing soul and emotional acuity. Zaara is also a culinary enthusiast, delighting in creating meals that blend flavors from their travels, infusing each dish with memories and love. Her expertise lies in living fully, finding joy in every moment, and inspiring others to seek happiness in life's simple, natural wonders.

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