You've cleared the site and set up the tent; now it's time to make sure that your food is protected against both wildlife and spoilage. Leaving your food out for wildlife to pick at and steal isn't just a nuisance; it can also help animals become accustomed to -- and even dependant on -- humans. The last thing you want is to attract a bear, raccoon or even a skunk to your campsite.
In bear country, this is especially important. Bears can smell food from miles away, and they're very intelligent and opportunistic. Adult grizzly bears are larger than black bears, and they aren't as agile climbers, so hanging your food and food preparation equipment from a tree in a plastic coated bag that seals in odors is a good option. Black bears, which are smaller, present more of a challenge to outdoor enthusiasts. In many places where black bears are active, like Yosemite National Park, hanging food is illegal. Park rangers instead require people to store all food, and things that smell like food, like toothpaste and deodorant, in a plastic, bear-resistant canister or sealed in a locker. And if you plan to catch fish while camping, be sure not to clean the fish near your campsite and to properly dispose of fish waste [source: National Parks Service].
It's important to protect your food from animal invaders, but it's equally important to protect it against microorganisms that will cause it to spoil. It's pretty simple: If you plan to bring perishable food on your camping adventure, be sure to bring a cooler with enough ice to keep it from spoiling. The easier option is to bring non-perishable foods. Many companies offer freeze-dried meals that are lightweight and easy to prepare, but you can also bring other non-perishable foods like oatmeal, pasta and rice.