Don't let bad food ruin a good trip. With some food-packing know-how, you can make sure your goodies come out of the cooler safe and sound. These guidelines follow the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Keep the cooler at 40 degrees F.
- Use two coolers: one that will be opened frequently and one for perishable foods to be used later.
- Fill both with enough ice or frozen gel packs before packing food. Keep in mind the length of the trip and the amount of food you'll need.
- Transfer meat and poultry directly from the freezer to the cooler.
- Fill in any empty spaces in the cooler with nonperishable foods like peanut butter and jelly.
- Store the cooler inside your car where there is air-conditioning; don't keep the cooler in the trunk.
- Keep your food in the cooler with fresh ice or transfer it to a refrigerator once you reach your destination.
- Put leftovers back in the cooler with ample ice or gel packs. If kept on ice, they should be safe to eat.