Avoid the temptation of just throwing your grub into the cooler with some ice. With a little planning and some thoughtful organization, you’ll have a cooler that’s tidy, fresh and icy cold.
Block ice is better
In general, block ice is better for a cooler than cubed ice because it lasts longer, but do bring along some cubed ice, too, for cooling drinks. Double-bag the cubes so you don’t have to worry about any dairy or meat juices seeping into it.
When packing the cooler, remove the cardboard layer of any food packaging. It tends to get soggy and fall apart, leaving an unpleasant mess.
Leave the shells behind
To save space in your cooler, you can crack and gently mix your eggs at home, and then use a funnel to pour them into a water bottle or other leakproof container. They’ll store safely for a couple of days once out of their shells. When you’re ready to cook, just give them a gentle shake and pour them into the skillet. If you prefer to bring whole eggs, use a Coleman egg container to safely store them in your cooler. It’s also handy for transporting hard-boiled eggs.
Paper cartons of milk, half-and-half and cream have a way of leaking in the cooler, especially when they’re submerged in water from the melting ice. Keep things tidier by buying your dairy in plastic or glass, leakproof containers.
Always double-bag meat, cheese and seafood to keep them from contaminating the ice and other foods. Keep them well-sealed for a fresh-smelling cooler.
Take advantage of the local stream
If there’s a nearby stream that’s not too busy with humans, tuck a bottle of rosé or white wine into a calm eddy. Bringing it to the table—perfectly chilled and dripping with cold water—shows true camper’s panache.
Although it’s smart to freeze anything you can before packing your cooler, this definitely does not apply to any carbonated drinks like beer. Consider yourself warned.