Last Updated on 11 months by Ollie Barker
Many people find themselves traveling with a cooler for their food. The question is: how do you keep food cold in a cooler?
This article will outline the different ways one can hold food cold for travel with or without a cooler, as well as utilizing ice packs and ice bricks to keep food chilled.
How to keep food cold while traveling
We all know that we need coolers, ice packs, or ice bricks to keep our food cold. However, that’s not enough. The following tips will help to preserve various types of food better.
#1 Put the food in the fridge or the freezer first
Items like raw meat or drinks can be kept in the freezer first, then placed in the cooler. It will last longer like this. Furthermore, these items can act as ice packs to keep other perishable food chilled.
If your cooler still has some space, put some more ice packs as well. This will keep the food chilled longer.
Food like salad or fruit should be in the fridge before being put in the cooler.
#2 Properly store the food
People tend to pack their containers with ice packs, leaving enough space between them. This can weaken or even break the entire system and lead to leakage of the liquid inside. You should not leave any space between them and pack it properly so no leakage will happen.
#3 Pack the cooler tight
A tight cooler is a cool one. It will preserve the content of your cooler as much as possible. It will help keep your food cold while traveling if you pack it tight and make sure there is no space between items inside. So make sure the cooler is filled up.
Put ice packs under and on top of the cooler, packing items tightly. Include the space on the sides, not just the bottom. By doing this, you have just created a perfect circulation of cold air.
#4 Seal your cooler well
Vacuum bags are amazing in keeping food fresh. These are popular in families who have a small baby and want to keep breast milk fresh. The reason for vacuum sealing for food is that it removes all air from inside and keeps the cold air out of your cooler when you close it.
#5 Use small & large ice blocks right
Small ice cubes melt faster than large ones. It is recommended to use large ice blocks when you have a cooler. You can buy those plastic ones in stores or make your own out of sheets of ice.
Small ice bricks are used to fill in the gap. Ice bricks are blocks with some space in between them, so they do not touch each other and melt during travel. They create a barrier so that the cold air outside will not come in while keeping the cold air inside your cooler intact. This way, your food will be as fresh as when you packed it before your trip.
#6 Use the right size for the job: don’t be over-stocked and over-packed
Think about how much food you want to put in your cooler, whether it is a large size or not. Let’s say you want to keep some steak and a few drinks cold in your cooler. It should not be so large that you can’t carry it around easily while traveling.
#7 Don’t keep the cooler in the trunk
If you keep your cooler in the trunk of your car, you will soon find out that it’s not as cold anymore. Hot air rises and hot air goes inside the trunk first. This will also cause your car to heat up faster than usual.
It’s better to keep the cooler in the passenger compartment when you are on long journeys. At the same time, remember to not open the lid of your cooler too often.
#8 Insulate the cooler
This little act is a big help during hot days. Give your cooler some sort of insulation to keep cold longer. You can wrap it with big towels or blankets to keep the cold air inside.
#1 How long will food stay frozen in a cooler?
The length of time food stays frozen in a cooler depends on the type of food and the temperature outside. It also depends on how fresh the food is.
Raw meat will stay frozen the longest, no more than 3 days. Raw fish will be okay for 2-3 days. Cooked foods can last up to 1 or 2 days before going bad. Ice cream will stay for about 2-3 days depending on how old it is when you put it in your cooler.
#2 How to keep food cold without a cooler?
If you forgot to buy a cooler or your cooler broke down, you can always opt for this. You will need the following items: some zip-lock bags and ice packs or ice bricks.
Put your food in the container first and seal it with a zip-lock bag. Put ice packs on top of it, filling in every space possible. Now sit back and relax until you arrive at your destination where you can take out your food from the bag.
#3 Is ice superior to ice packs?
No, not at all. Both of them can keep food cold for a long time.
Ice is a natural refrigerant, but it does not last as long as ice packs do. The latter are also more efficient, so better to use water bottles filled with water and frozen in the freezer, as these will work better than ice bags or ice cubes for keeping the food cold for a longer period of time.
Whether you are traveling with a small family or more than 20 people, a cooler is a necessity to keep your food cold. Making sure your cooler is fully packed will ensure you have enough space for all your food. Keeping all the above tips in mind helps the food stay chilled longer.