Camping How-To: Site, Food and Safety

How to Set up Campsite for CampingHow To Set Up Your Campsite

Camping with the family is supposed to be relaxing, but it can feel stressful if you don’t know how to pack, set up, and organize your campsite efficiently.

After all, no one wants to spend all their time unpacking gear, looking for things, and hauling stuff around their campsite! Read on to learn how to efficiently pack and set up all your gear!


How to Pack Your Camping Gear for Easy Set Up at the Campground

Start your packing process with stackable rubber storage totes. You’ll need at least three (one for each camping “section” of your campsite, including the kitchen, sleeping, and living areas). Larger families or those with extensive gear will probably need more than one tote for each section.

Once you arrive at your campsite, simply set each tote in the designated area you’ll need it in, such as the area around your picnic table for the kitchen tote, your tent area for your sleeping tote, and near your campfire pit for your living area tote. Color code your totes to remember where each one belongs.


Tote Packing for Camping


Try this kitchen packing hack: Store your kitchen tools and utensils in a toiletry bag or other small bag to keep them organized and clean between uses at a dusty campground. You can hang them from a tree branch for easy access when you’re at your site.


How To Pack your Cooler for Camping


In addition to your three “main section” totes, assign a smaller tote to each family member. This tote will hold that person’s clothing and personal items. Using totes for this purpose, instead of duffel bags or suitcases, saves space in your car or trailer since you can stack them.

Place items you’ll need at the ready in a mesh laundry sack (which can be re-purposed later for dirty clothes). These items may include swimsuits and towels you’ll want as soon as you arrive at the campground or jackets and boots if you’re camping in damp areas or in the off-season.


How to Find a Good Campsite and Set Up Efficiently

If you can reserve your campsite ahead of time, do so online as early as possible. Look at the campground map and note campsites that back up to the wilderness instead of other sites. In addition, look at the bathroom and shower locations (you may want to be close to one or you may want to be farther away from foot traffic). If you are camping at a campground that does not take reservations, arrive at the campground as early in the day as possible. When you arrive, look for a campsite that backs up to the forest or scenery to minimize noise from any neighbors.

Find a campsite with equal parts shade and sun to maximize your exposure and enjoy warmth in the mornings and cooler temperatures in the afternoon. Once you’ve selected a site, set up your sleeping area in the shade (so your tents don’t heat up during the day) on flat ground away from the fire ring and kitchen area.

Set up your kitchen adjacent to the fire ring and picnic table. You may want to consider setting up a screen dome or shade shelter over the table to reduce unwanted quality time with insects and mosquitos. Make sure you place your cooler in the shade.

 Finding the Best Camping Site


How to Have a Safe Campfire

First, always make sure the campground permits campfires. Campfire policies can change seasonally, and they may be prohibited during peak forest fire danger periods. If campfires are permitted, make sure to gather sticks and wood from the ground around your site, taking care not to break branches off living trees. Dead wood is drier and better for burning.

If you need to buy firewood, buy it at your campground or at a local store. This practice saves space in your vehicle for your other gear, and it is far better for the environment. When you bring wood from home, you can unknowingly bring unwanted, non-native insects or parasites along with it.

Start your campfire with kindling or small sticks from around the campsite, combined with some newspaper or store-bought fire starter.

Always let your campfire start to die out one hour before bedtime. This is a great time to light a camping lantern and play a few rounds of cards or a board game. Of course, you should always put your fire completely out before leaving your campsite (for the day or at the end of the trip). To extinguish your fire quickly, separate the burned coals with a stick. Once they’re not touching, they will become cool to the touch within 15-20 minutes on average. After spreading the coals, ensure that the fire is fully out by throwing buckets of water or sand or them.


Storing Food at Night While Camping


Original Article by eReplacementParts’ Lifestyle Blog


Written by Amy Whitley


How to Turn Your Fridge into a Nutritional Paradise



How to Turn Your Fridge into a Nutritional Paradise

When you’re hungry, there’s nothing more satisfying than opening the fridge and finding it packed full of nutritious and delicious goodies. Unfortunately, many of us fall victim to the horrors of the sparsely stocked, disorganized ice box filled with leftovers of questionable origin and time.

Keeping a properly stocked fridge requires good shopping habits and proper management of leftovers and condiments. For some of us, that process comes naturally, but quite a few of us still need a little bit of extra help.

Here are a few ways you can help yourself develop these habits so that healthy, nutritious food will always be within your reach.

Make Shopping Easier

The days of carrying a handwritten and crumpled shopping list are gone. Thanks to modern apps such as Buy Me a Pie! and Grocery iQ, it’s much easier to create and share lists with family members. This helps to share the workload and keep all your lists safe in one place.

For the thrifty shopper, consider using one of the many rebate apps. I’m partial to Ibotta, but the process sometimes can be trying. Otherwise, you may want to utilize FarmStand or other equivalent apps to find where and when there are local farmer’s markets.

Shopping for local produce and goods ensures fresher goods and often affords you better prices as well. Plus, it’s better for the environment since farms usually don’t sell packaged and processed foods you find in grocery stores.


Find New and Exciting Recipes

Buying an array of tasty goods is definitely the first part of creating a collage of culinary curiosity, but actually preparing the food is an entirely separate matter. For that, you really want to make good use of the many recipes found online.

DishDish’s Online Cookbook app is a great way to store recipes for later use. We strongly recommend not relying on bookmarks for favorite recipes, as sometimes sites remove recipes or lose their hosting.

In case you’re in an area without internet reception (we’ve all had the dreaded “dead zone” experience at super markets), consider jotting down some notes with your device’s default app so you can store it online later. For instance, Apple’s Notes app is a good temporary solution until you regain internet capabilities.


Manage Your Leftovers

So you’ve stocked your fridge, you’ve made a great meal and now you’re left with the final inevitable result—the leftovers. As something both to rejoice over and cringe at, leftovers can save you time or become a very disgusting cleanup if improperly managed.

We store our leftovers in glass containers (Pyrex or similar) so that there’s never any mystery about what’s inside. But the real secret to management, from my perspective, is actually much simpler. All it takes is a pen/marker and a pad of sticky notes.

To keep food from being lost to the annals of time and forgetfulness, I label all leftover containers with a date. This is a straightforward way to make it clear when something was put in the fridge and whether or not it’s still safe to eat. You can even go the extra mile and add a “use by” date just like at the supermarket to make sure food either gets eaten or tossed before it goes bad.

By doing this, you avoid turning the food in your fridge into someone’s high school biology project. It also keeps the fridge smelling nicer and reduces the likelihood of mold growing on your fresh foods.

Cleanup Time

Cleaning the Fridge | How to Turn Fridge Into Nutritional Paradise

If there’s one thing I see more than neglected leftovers, it’s a fridge that hasn’t been cleaned in ages. It may be because we’re constantly adding new things or because it’s just cold inside, but we always seem to forget to actually scrub down the inside of our fridges.

Well, don’t forget and make sure to dispose of rotten food and scrub surfaces down with a cleaner of your choice (vinegar works well as it kills mold and isn’t toxic). If you’re concerned about odors, you can place a box of baking soda in the fridge to help maintain a fresh scent. Together, cleaning and prevention will keep your foods fresher longer.

Will you take the steps necessary to create the kind of fridge everyone envies? Share your thoughts in the comments.


About the Author: Cassie is a blogger that enjoys sharing her passion for health and technology.  With the internet on her side, she’s on a dedicated mission to spread the good words of nutrition and wellness. Find some of her work at or on Twitter.



Keep Favorite Recipes in Free Online Cookbook with Grocery Shopping List (recipe organizer)

7 Tips to Boost Your Healthy Food Habits

7 Tips to Boost your Healthy Food Habits

Thinking about eating healthy and having a good diet is one thing, but keeping those healthy food habits up is another thing entirely.

Our whole lives we’ve been told it’s important to eat healthily and to develop good habits, but those habits and diets seem to change all the time.

However, one thing is for certain, as we get older, having good eating habits becomes more and more vital.

That is because in our youth, the bad side of eating unhealthy meals feels so far away, but these decisions start to creep up on us and hit us hard.

Now is the time, no matter your age, to develop better eating habits with healthier foods. Having been through my fair share of fads and trials, I can say with some certainty, that these 7 tips are the best way to start:

1. Cook your own meals

2. Try fruits and vegetables you’ve not had before

3. Keep a record of what you like

4. Try swapping healthy alternatives to improve your meals

5. Make smaller portions using smaller plates and bowls

6. Quit sodas or at least, cut down on them

7. Drink lots of water – especially one a day with lime or lemon juice mixed in

These might help solve some health problems you feel, might fill you up with energy as well as help you lose weight. They are great foundations for feeling better no matter your age.

To find out more about each of these tips, check out this excellent article on 7 tips for developing better eating habits.


(Article contributed by Jess Walter, freelance health and food writer and mother.  She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.)

Keep Favorite Recipes in Free Online Cookbook with Grocery Shopping List (recipe organizer)


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Easy Family Dinner Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day

Easy Dinner Ideas for St. Patrick's Day, recipesWhen you look about, do you see leprechauns and shamrocks aplenty? St. Patrick’s Day must be upon us.

Enjoy celebrating your family’s Irish heritage (or celebrate with the Irish in your community) with these easy dinner ideas. (Clicking on the name of the recipe will take you to the recipe itself).

Reuben Roll-Ups

reuben roll ups, irish recipe, st. patrick's day

Start off your traditional Irish meal with these colorful appetizers – corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut rolled up in tortillas.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

corned beef and cabbage, Irish recipe, St. Patrick's Day

A traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal made of corned beef brisket served with cabbage (and potatoes and carrots, if desired).


Corned Beef Hash

corned beef hash with fried eggs and potatoes, Irish recipe, St. Patrick's Day

This dish is easy with deli corned beef slices cooked with cubed or shredded potatoes and topped with fried eggs before serving.  A hearty Irish meal.

Fried Cabbage

fried cabbage in skillet, Irish recipe, St. Patrick's Day

This simple fried cabbage requires only 3 ingredients and makes a terrific side dish (or add in some sausage for a complete meal).


colcannon, Irish recipe, St. Patrick's Day

Mashed potatoes cooked with greens (cabbage, kale or chard) and dished up creamy with butter and milk.

Hearty Irish Stew

irish stew, soup recipes, Irish recipes, St. Patrick's Day

This dish needs to simmer for 2-3 hours for a hearty, savory dinner full of beef, potatoes, tomatoes, and seasonings.
(Use this recipe if you prefer to cook it in a slow cooker – Irish Stew)

Irish Apple Crumble

irish apple crumb, irish recipe, st. patrick's day

Since most holiday meals include a dessert, here’s an easy one using a store-bought pastry dough, filled with sliced apples and cinnamon, topped with sugar crumb mixture.

Of course, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t all about food (or drink, as some might suppose). Enjoy your Irish family dinner and remind the next generation of the real story of St. Patrick, his sacrifice for and contribution to others.  Have a discussion about how we can choose to be a positive influence and touch the lives of those around us.

What are your family traditions around St. Patrick’s Day?  Do you go all out with decorations and party foods or keep thing simple?  Do you have favorite dishes you would recommend we try for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner?  Leave us a comment and let us know your suggestions – we love to hear from you!

online recipe box, digital recipe book, online cookbook