I worked for several years as a lunchroom cook at an elementary school. I received extensive training in the proper way to store and cook foods safely. It’s very important to put some thought into the way you pack your ice chest, as perishable foods MUST be kept at proper temperatures. Cross-contamination of foods is a source of food poisoning, and proper packing of your ice chest and safe handling of foods will eliminate those concerns. It’s essential that foods, especially raw meat, are kept separate in sealed bags or containers
During my childhood, we camped many weekends. My parents had ONE green metal Coleman ice chest. It was so sturdy and worked so well, that it never needed to be replaced. My husband and I purchased and use THIS (affiliate link) steel-belted ice chest, which looks just like the one we used when I camped with my parents.
This ice chest comes in a few colors, a couple of colors with a bit higher price. I gave Clark the choice of buying a green ice chest or red. He chose green. Now me …… it would have been RED as my choice. Isn’t RED a nice cheery, peppy color? Ha! But green it was!!!! Blends in better with the outdoors I guess! Ha!
We have found that the Coleman metal ice chest works much better than the hard plastic style. The Coleman ice chest has a nice latch that pulls the lid down tight, which keeps the ice frozen longer. Click on image for details.
I highly recommend the ice chest that we use!!
I found the following information on the Coleman web site:
I added in a few tips that we use when camping.
- For best performance, always pre-chill food and drinks. Two six packs or one gallon (3.7L) of liquid will use approximately 2.5 lbs. (1.13kg) of ice just to cool from room temperature. So plan ahead and cool off everything before you head out. You can even empty a few trays of ice into the cooler to pre-chill its interior.
- Put the ice in last. Cold air travels down, so if you want your beverage well chilled, load cans and bottles first, then cover with ice.
- Do not store cooler in hot location. When storing cooler, avoid hot places such as the garage or the trunk of a car. If this is unavoidable, bring the cooler inside at least 24 hours before use.
- Keep cooler out of the sun. Ice lasts up to twice as long when the cooler is in the shade. We keep ours in the shade whenever possible. At times when there is no shade available, you can place a blanket over the ice chest. At beach locations, you can use a beach umbrella to put the ice chest under.
- Choose cube or block ice. Use cube ice to quickly cool food and drink, block ice to keep it cold longer.
- Don’t drain cold water. Recently melted ice keeps food and drinks cold. Melted ice water preserves ice better than empty air space.
- Close lid quickly after opening. Do not leave the lid open longer than necessary.
- Use separate coolers. Use one for beverages you’ll want frequently, another for the bulk of the food. The latter will keep ice longer because it will be opened less frequently. It can be hard, but we always did our best to keep the kiddos from opening the ice chest over and over, mainly because they wanted a soda. That problem can be solved by keeping soda in a separate ice chest.
- Protect perishable foods. Place perishable foods like meat and dairy products directly on ice. Sealed plastic containers will keep food dry.
I put my ground hamburger meat in a zip-lock bag and then in a sealed plastic container. Better yet, I often cook up my ground hamburger meat and then place it in a zip-lock bag. That way you are not dealing with storage of raw meat. It also saves time with meal preparation when your meat is already cooked, ready to use.
- We place many foods in zip-lock bags. Items such as butter, chocolate Hershey bars, cheese, lunch meats etc. are placed in zip-lock bags to keep them dry. I used to have troubles with some of these items working their way down to the melted water, ruining my small food items.
Use dry ice to keep food frozen. Place the dry ice on top of the food. Be sure that the dry ice is wrapped in heavy layers of newspaper. Do not let dry ice come in direct contact with the interior liner or your hands.
Please visit this web site. Foodsafety.gov offers important information on the safe handling of food.
Cleaning Your Cooler
- Clean the inside and outside. Clean the inside with a solution of mild soap and warm water, especially before first use. To remove tough stains, use baking soda and water to clean the inside.
- Remove odors with a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water. If odor persists, wipe the interior with a cloth saturated with vanilla extract, then leave the cloth in the cooler overnight.
- Always air-dry the cooler with the lid open before storing. This reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth.