By Vanessa Greaves

Whether you're camping in the great outdoors, taking a scenic road trip, picnicking, or tailgating, keeping fresh food properly chilled at a food-safe temperature is always a challenge when you're miles away from the nearest fridge. Here are smart tips for packing a cooler or ice chest so food stays cold longer and nothing gets soggy or crushed.

WATCH: How to Pack a Cooler

How to Pack a Cooler: An Illustrated Guide

How to Pack a Cooler Infographic by Allrecipes

Top Tips

  • Chill all food and drinks before packing them.
  • Seal food in waterproof containers to keep it dry and uncrushed.
  • Keep the cooler as full as possible.
  • If you can, have a separate cooler for drinks so the cooler doesn't lose its cool every time someone opens it to get a drink.
  • Keep the cooler in the shadiest spot you can find.
  • Don't drain melted ice water — it actually helps keep food cool longer. It's true!
Seal food in waterproof containers and fill the cooler with ice.


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