Whether it’s keeping your beers cold at a music festival or treating the family to the perfect picnic, cooler bags have revolutionized the outdoor dining experience. That is, of course, when it’s done correctly. No-one wants a piping hot fizzy drink or a dodgy looking chicken drumstick to ruin their day at the beach, so read our guide packed with tons of tips on how to get the best out of your printed cooler bags.
· Put ice in your cooler the night before. This means the cooler is already well-below room-temperature before you even begin packing.
· Ensure all food and drinks are chilled the night before.
· Put food inside two plastic bags – this keeps them dry, allows you to reseal leftovers and stops cross-contamination.
· Consider using separate coolers for food and drink –beverage bags are usually opened more frequently meaning your food will suffer and warm up as a result.
· Wash all perishable food to stop bacteria spreading inside your cooler.
· Pack the bottom layer with block ice, ice packs or frozen (ideally square) water bottles – with a lower surface area, your ice will last a lot longer if it’s in a block.
· Put items you don’t need to access as frequently, and perishable items at the bottom – rummaging around for too long will quickly increase the temperature.
· Items you need early/ more frequent access to go at the top.
· If you have space, add a new layer of ice after every new layer of food.
· Fill any gaps with ice-cubes, towels or smaller items.
· Keep the cooler away from external heat and out of direct sunlight – typically coolers are used on hot days with lots of sun exposure so it can be tough. Find some shade or put it under a blanket. Your ice will melt very quickly otherwise.
· Just like when you bake with an oven, open the cooler as little as possible. When you do, make it snappy! You’re losing cold with every second it’s open. Make sure your kids are aware of this as they’ll be the first to complain about a warm soda!
· Only take our perishable goods right before eating – you don’t want those items sweltering in the sun, acquiring bacteria for too long.
Extended tips for cooler geeks
Follow the above advice, and you will get the best out of your cooler for sure. But if you’re the kind of person who gets their kicks out of extra-endurance cooler bags (and who isn’t?) then checks out these modifications:
· Why not make your own ‘polar bear tubes’? Cut out PVC pipe, fill them with salt and water, seal them, freeze them and put them in your cooler. With a lower melting point, these tubes will stay cooler for much longer.
· Use a rack to keep your food elevated – this will stop your food ending up in a soggy mush at the bottom when all of the ice melts.
· Put a layer of two-sided reflective insulation on top of your cooler to stop heat entering.
I hope these tips will come in handy and lead to some great days out in the sun!