Last week we shared hurricane preparedness tips with you here and one of the elements was to have coolers handy to keep perishables cool. More than likely though, you purchased your cooler to use it for fun outdoor activities like tailgating, camping, boating or fishing. Regardless of its initial purpose, these tips will come in handy for keeping your food safe and cool if you are without refrigeration for extended periods of time.
Not all coolers are equal and vary in size and material. Consider for how long you will need to cool your perishables. Are you looking to simply keep drinks cool for a few hours or are you planning to store food for a multi-night camping trip? They range from styrofoam coolers to what we call the kings of coolers, the Yeti brand coolers. The latter are extra durable, have thicker insulation and close with freezer quality sealing gaskets.
Start with A Cold Cooler
Think about it this way, if your cooler is hot from being stored in a car or shed, some of that heat will immediately warm up your ice packs and other contents. Best to bring the cooler inside or into a basement a few hours before packing and even laying separate ice in it that you discard before packing your cooler for good.
Pack Cold Items in Your Cooler
Likewise, you will want to cool anything that will go into the cooler. Take your beverages directly out of your refrigerator when you pack your cooler to avoid them warming up your ice. While adding room temperature drink containers to a an ice-filled cooler will certainly cool them down your ice will melt that much faster.
If you’re going on multi-day trips, consider freezing some of your drinks and using them as additional cooling aids around properly wrapped meats and other more sensitive items. Keep in mind that liquids expand when they freeze.
Don’t Expose The Cooler to Heat
You will get maximum cold retention if you continue to keep your cooler cool. Don’t park it in the sun but try to find a shaded spot for it even if that means putting a towel up to shield it.
To get the most out of your cooler pack it smartly. Group meals together and pack them chronologically with the meal you’re planning to use first going in last. This way you won’t have to dig through random packs and can minimize the time the cooler is open. In other words, items that need to stay cool the longest should go to the bottom of your cooler.
Are you planning to grill over a camp fire in a few days? Pack frozen meat that will slowly defrost over the first few days.
But what about ice? For best results use a mix of ice cubes and crushed ice and add blocks or bags of ice to the top. The lose ice will hug your items and maintain their cool nicely while the bigger pieces help keep the heat out.
Keep The Water
Depending on your cooler, how it is packed and how often you open it, ice will eventually melt and become water. Withstand the temptation to drain it as it is quite beneficial for keeping your remaining ice cool and keep warmer air out!
For a wide selection of coolers including Yeti coolers come check us out at Park Road Shopping Center!