The Coleman one that JERF referenced earlier is a good one. I tend to go with either the Igloo Max or Ultramax lines, or the Coleman Extreme that she bought.
Either way, I generally won't go smaller that 50 quart (and prefer a 70). It's physically a bit big, but it gives more room for ice and for arranging the food so that it stays cold longer. I figure that the size really is irrelevant, since it will be sitting in the vehicle all day.
I always have a selection of containers in my freezer that are frozen in to solid blocks of ice (they melt far more slowly than cubes). My main one is a flat container about 1-1/2" deep that fits the entire bottom of my 70 quart cooler. I supplement that with frozen water bottles, and various small freezer packs that I can fit in amongst the foods.
It definitely is worthwhile to get the best cooler that you can afford (and to go bigger in size than you normally would think, just to have that extra room for ice).
What's a good brand of a durable, well-insulated cooler that's not ridiculously sized but that'll fit a lunch or two along with frozen water bottles and/or ice?
We had the second move last weekend and I packed our cooler loaded with a half a bag of ice (all I could fit) with some cheese sticks, PB&J sandwiches, baby carrots packed in water, deviled eggs, and a couple Sunny D's for general replenishment (I can't stand most electrolyte replenish drinks). Left it in my trunk but had to park in the sun. Packed it around 6AM and we worked until 2PM, and by the time I got to the car, the ice was all melted and everything felt room temperature. Husband and son decided to partake in the Burger King run they offered, but I ate two PB&Js and carrots, but tossed the cheese, eggs, and Sunny D and just drank warm water from a case they had there. It worked and got me by so I was able to pass on the Burger King run (where I inevitably would have ordered a junior Whopper and onion rings), but it wasn't even that warm last weekend...compared to what it usually is this time of year.
I think we need a better cooler for these things.
Fitness Minutes: (0)
8/15/14 2:00 P
Depending on the trip and whether I'll have refrigeration right away when I arrive, I use two coolers, one for "seat side" which I use for food on the way, and the other which goes on the floorboard on the passenger side, for things I can refrigerate on arrival.
I freeze water in recycled water bottles. Walmart bottles are slightly larger in diameter, and I use those for the larger cooler. In the South, a car can reach 140 degrees or higher when parked on a sunny day and cracking windows helps little if outside temperatures are close to 100, Consequently, especially for the seat side cooler, I am careful about what I pack, avoiding any type of lunch meat, meat in general, and mayo based salads, etc.
For the seatside cooler, I do not fool with anything requiring forks, knives, spoons or can openers, and I don't want anything that is messy or drips. I like to take large slices of whole wheat bread spread with two tablespoons of peanut butter, and then I cut the sandwich in about six bite size pieces. Sometimes I will make two for a longer trip. I don't use jam or jelly, but you could (it tends to drip). Also, cheese sticks and small Slim Jims are nice, but I've also taken two ounces of cheese (mozarella) and cubed it into 1/2 oz pieces. Sometimes I will break dark chocolate into individual cubes and pack half a bar or so. I also like to slice an apple into bite-size slices or do orange segments.
The larger cooler, well packed with frozen water bottles, will keep almost anything cold for upwards of many hours, if there is no lengthy parking on the way. Still, I like to freeze anything I can, before packing it. I used to commute from home and stay away at work for lengthy periods, and when I left home I'd pack my larger cooler (and water bottles) with almost anything, including frozen meals I had myself, BUT I had refrigeration available within about six hours.
My thoughts were about what cooler you have. Some are more pretty than good at what their intended for. They are definitely not made equal and maybe you should invest in one that has better insulation or that is made better to keep food cool or hot. I don't like to spend a lot but for this I do because I don't like cold food tasting warm at all. Other than that I wonder if the ice gel type packs you use for injuries may work for food. They move around easily and work well in my experience. I lay one on the bottom and one on the top with one on the side if needed.
Fitness Minutes: (180,540)
241,282 8/4/14 11:44 A
Fitness Minutes: (725)
8/3/14 8:11 P
cooked meals for day one fruits and vegetables for day two low calorie cookies, roasted chickpeas and nuts for day three canned soups and chilis for day four
Fitness Minutes: (180,540)
241,282 8/3/14 12:57 A
like to have fruit & veggies & nuts
Fitness Minutes: (137,452)
8/2/14 6:44 A
been doing some hiking and really found these tips to be helpful
Fitness Minutes: (180,540)
241,282 8/2/14 1:28 A
cant have much bread as my sugar hits the roof so rely on fruit veggies & nuts
8/1/14 7:33 P
Phoenician here--I definitely get the heat issue! I'd recommend the applesauce-sized containers of salmon and tuna or even tuna in a pouch, consider mixing with some avocado for a tuna-salad-like spread without the mayo; low-fat chips or crackers, olives in brine, home-made snack mix, cooked pasta with tomato sauce, etc. When it's as hot as it gets here (115 outside, 125-130+ in the car) you can even have hot foods (soups, etc.) although they're not nearly as appealing...
Fitness Minutes: (180,540)
241,282 7/31/14 11:37 A
7/31/14 10:40 A
Jarred salads and fruits are great for travel you can keep with the healthy snacks by putting measured peanut butter than celery sticks in jars also. Pinterest has hundreds of Ideas for jarred foods . This is also great for portion control
Fitness Minutes: (180,540)
241,282 7/29/14 11:57 A
7/28/14 5:09 P
Fitness Minutes: (59,774)
7/28/14 2:52 P
I heard this tip on pintrest I think but you freeze enough water bottles to fill the entire bottom of your cooler, put them on the bottom then pack your cooler, add a little bag of ice on top (I use ice from my icemaker like maybe a quart) it will keep several days in moderate temps and over 36 hours even on the hottest of days. It really works. I have used this method for various sizes of coolers and it does work really well!
Edited by: DIEGOGAL1 at: 7/28/2014 (14:56)
Fitness Minutes: (280)
7/28/14 1:23 P
Freeze some Go-GO Squeeze Applesauce. Keeps cold or warm and you don't need utensils!
My usual menu of foods when I need food that travels well and stands up to heat are: nuts, dried fruits, freeze dried veggies (available at our health food store), canned tuna or salmon (don't forget the opener and a plastic fork!), crackers, favorite brand of nutrition bar, a couple of hard candies. I've taken similar type foods when I used to backpack and was not carrying a cooler.
Fitness Minutes: (1,012)
7/24/14 10:54 P
That sounds like an awesome plan, FITGAL2010!
7/24/14 9:35 A
The most success in this area was when my daughter and I drove to Myrtle Beach from Ohio. It was approximately 16 hours one way. Brought one large bag of baked chips, 2 foot long Subway subs (asked them to cut them both into fourths), and then fresh fruit and water. We packed a cooler, brought plenty of napkins, and it was so easy. Also stopped at most rest areas to eat and stretch. What a great trip. It seemed we were there in no time at all.
KASTRA - freezing raw vegetables isn't the best idea if you want to eat them uncooked. They will go mushy. Instead, try putting them into icy water.
Fitness Minutes: (14,350)
7/22/14 10:32 A
The trunk actually stays cooler than the interior of the car, so you might keep you cooler in there to retain the cold longer.
Fitness Minutes: (21,255)
7/22/14 9:21 A
great ideas. thanks all~
Fitness Minutes: (0)
9,764 7/22/14 9:08 A
Great ideas already given we carry nuts and hard candies with us wherever we go One day at a time love prayers peace God Bless
7/21/14 5:52 P
Do you like roasted chickpeas? In addition to all of the great suggestions so far, these would definitely stand up to the heat and are nice and light/easily portable, which means they would be good to snack on throughout the day if you can keep them close by without losing them in the shuffle of moving.
have you tried cracking your windows when you leave the car? if rain isn't an issue then it can keep the temperature of the car closer to the outside air temperature, which will in turn make it a little less like leaving your insulated lunchbox in an oven. eta: also be aware of where the sun is. i'm going to pretend that where you have to park the hood of your car will be north and the trunk will be south. since you get more light from the south, keeping your lunchbox in the front [north] seat of the car will be slightly cooler than the back. and in the morning the west [driver] side will be a little cooler and in the afternoon it will be the east side. pay attention to where trees and buildings are relative to your car and think through how the sun is going to change through the day. ie if you park on the west side of a tree it will shade you in the morning but will be boiling by the afternoon. try to park your car in such a manner than you can maximize a cooler spot and keep your lunch stuff there. having a light colored towel in the car to cover up any darker lunch stuff seems to help as well. hands down my favorite lunchbox item is my thermos funtainer. one of my favorite go to lunch items is yogurt with fruit and berries. i generally put the yogurt and the frozen berries in the funtainer by 8 am at the latest and the berries are still quite frozen at noon. if i want to eat it before two and not get brainfreeze then i open the top and leave it in a patch of sun until it thaws enough. i actually got so busy last week i didn't open it til after 5pm and it was still cool enough to eat. this funtainer typically sits around in a black car in the florida sun, though i am more driving to meetings in it than letting it sit in one spot for eight hours.
I freeze a lot of what I pack, and then put them in the cooler frozen --- by the time I'm ready to eat, they're thawed.
I agree with JERF on doing a frozen block - takes much longer to thaw (I generally use one large container for the bottom of the cooler, and a few smaller, flat containers to fit in amongst the food).
If I'm planning on one meal and two snacks for two people, then I use one cooler - if there's going to be a second meal, then I use two. I try to layer foods into the cooler in the order that I'm planning to use them - the cooler isn't open as long, and the top foods tend to thaw faster.
Things that I bring straight from the freezer:
- breads (pita, tortilla, or slices of pumpernickel or rye) if I plan on sandwiches or wraps - cooked meats (I cook, slice, and then freeze in single serving amounts: turkey breast, chicken breast, ham, roast beef, or pork roast) - single-serve containers of yogurt (I mix my own with plain yogurt, almond or vanilla extract, nuts, and berries - and then freeze) - home-made muffins, oatcakes, cookies, or protein bars
Things that I bring from the fridge:
- spring mix or baby spinach (to use as the base for a salad, or to put on a sandwich or wrap) - mini cucumbers (whole) - carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower (in bite size pieces, and packed in some cold water) - garlic hummus - onion and cucumber salad (dressed with a vinegar only dressing - no oils - which makes a great topper for a lettuce salad) - cheese (either Babybel or some that I've sliced and packaged in 1 oz portions - if I'm planning on adding it to a salad or sandwich, then I'll shred and freeze sharp cheddar or gruyere and bring it frozen) - fresh whole fruits (I really like bringing whole watermelons, cantaloupes, or honeydews along with a cutting board and a big knife --- they don't need to be kept cold, and always seem to be the first things that disappear when there are a bunch of people) - either a chickpea and lentil salad, or a quinoa salad (that can be eaten alone, added to a lettuce salad, or added to a sandwich or wrap)
I package most stuff in heavy glass containers - they seem to hold the coolness longer and be better insulated than plastic ones. It's heavier to carry, but that shouldn't be an issue with what you are planning on.
If I'm going to be leaving the cooler in a parked vehicle for a long period of time, then I try to have it in the passenger area, with a couple of windows slightly open, and I wrap the cooler in a blanket or a couple of big towels for extra insulation.
I've never had much luck with freezing raw veggies - they always seem to taste mushy, but I also tend to only freeze them for long-term preservation, not just overnight to use the next day.
Do you think if I pack some raw carrots and celery in water and freeze it, that they'll not lose their crunch?
I'm not sure if it's the area, my car, or the lunch bag I usually take to work, but I've left my lunch in the car with some frozen water bottles before when my job has me at remote sites, and everything is usually close to interior car temperature (120+ degrees) by lunchtime so I haven't done that in ages. How many frozen water bottles do you think it'll take? My car cooks like a furnace. I guess I could throw a bag of ice in a bigger insulated cooler as well as the frozen water bottles. Surely they'll stay at least chilly, if not ideal refrigeration temp, by lunch.
Thanks for the ideas! While I know I burned most or all of those lunch calories, it would've been awesome to reap a bit of an extra surplus calorie deficit. Hoping to do that next time!
7/21/14 11:36 A
I've learned not to put anything on a zip lock baggie when leaving my food in the car too long when it's hot. It made my food taste like the plastic. Yuck !
Freezing your water bottles and keeping them in the cooler is a great idea. I often freeze a large Tupperware type container (filled with water) ahead of time. The block takes a lot longer to melt than ice cubes. That will help keep everything cold. Eat the stuff that goes bad first saving the more heat stable foods for last.
* cut veggies in water, it really does help them hold up * homemade muffins * fruit, fresh or dehydrated * nuts * salad, with bacon and chicken * salmon patties * dark chocolate :)
fresh fruit or little cans of water packed fruit, dry cereal, nuts, tuna and salmon pouches, canned chickpeas. granola bars, healthy chips & crackers (such as Mary's Gone Crackers or Van's, I'm gluten free so these are all I can think of as far as decent crackers but there are probably more)
7/21/14 9:20 A
Apples, tropical fruits (banana, papaya, mango, oranges), crackers with olives and humus, hard boiled eggs, cereal bars, nuts
Yes, take a gulp of water and freeze the bottle and use in the cooler. Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwiches would hold up and the peanut butter's protein will provide energy. Consider putting celery stalks and baby carrots in a small container of water....it will keep them crisp and aid in hydration on a hot day of work. Hard boiled eggs will stay cool in the cooler also. Add an apple or an orange. Maybe pistachios for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Cheese, olives, grape tomatoes, mini-cheeses like Baby Bell...several types of tasty whole grain crackers like Kavli or Kashi...turkey slices and apples are great together
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
3,691 7/20/14 3:48 A
can of spinach or green beans (straight out of the can) packet of tuna or salmon disposable fork jerky frozen string cheese (wrap in foil) raw nuts/seeds apple (refrigerate overnight and wrap in foil)
So long as your lunch cooler bag is a reasonable size, you can use a reasonable sized water bottle, almost filled, and frozen overnight, and then topped up in the morning, as you cooling agent and cold drink.) Then you can have sandwiches, cold hard-boiled egg and salads, but put the dressings into little tiny snap-lock bags, ready to dress the salad when you are ready to eat it. You can pack frozen fruit salads in containers, as well as frozen yoghurt. Just pop it in the freezer overnight. Then you have something fresh and cold, as well.
Other things that come to mind - small cans of salmon or chicken, ready to eat, or add to a sandwich or salad. Small chilled cans of mixed bean salads. Chilled cans of beetroot. Cold baked jacket potato - stored right next to the frozen water. Remember, if you take any cans, make sure that you have a can opener as well ;-)
If the cold food is going to be in my car for a fair while, I sometimes put one cooler bag inside another.
We helped some friends move today and worked our backsides off! I have no idea how much I burned, but am glad I burned a lot. It's hot here - south Alabama - even with the cold front and rain that came through so when deciding if I should pack my lunch this morning, all my normal lunch options would not have stood up to the heat until lunchtime. Friends were moving from a home where they've already shut off the electric and I was parked at that end of the line all day without refrigeration. We didn't take a cooler because it likely would have been lost in the mess of moving. Lunch ended up being Dairy Queen take-out - they were buying, I wasn't going to be picky. I got a BLT and small fries, but it still packed a serious calorie punch. Still, like I said, I'm pretty sure I burned most if not all of it.
But, we have another group of friends moving in a few weeks and I'd like to avoid a similar dilemma if possible. What are some lunchtime foods that won't get nasty if they're in southern summer heat half the day? Cut veggies tend to get a bit yucky after being in heat a while. The only thing that came to mind was nuts and that isn't going to sustain me all day. I don't like jerked meats. Can pack a cooler but I'd leave it in my car to avoid it getting lost in their stuff, and the heat inside the car would still likely overwhelm any ice I put in there.
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