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How Do You Keep Food From Getting Soggy in a Cooler?

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Q. My dad and I went on a camping trip. We brought a big cooler full of food with lots of ice. But it was super hot, so the ice melted and swamped our food. The buns were soggy, and my graham crackers were half-soaked. What can we do to avoid this?
— Waterlogged Will, Bakersfield, Calif.

A. I’ve got just the answer for your troubles, Waterboy. Instead of a bunch of ice, try this: Get three or four large empty plastic bottles, like a 64-oz. jug from apple juice, Gatorade, etc. A couple of days before your next camping trip, fill them up with fresh water and toss them in the freezer. When it’s time to go on your trip, skip the bag of ice and just put those frozen water bottles inside your cooler. They’ll stay cold for a long time. And when they do finally melt, instead of a bunch of soggy food and melted ice, you’ll have four bottles of fresh water, perfect for drinking, washing, whatever.


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15 Comments on How Do You Keep Food From Getting Soggy in a Cooler?

  1. Jackcepticeye jr // January 2, 2019 at 3:58 pm // Reply

    Lots of the Boy Scouts in my camp out had knives , But they were all dull, and we had no sharpeners, do you have any ideas on how to sharpen it

  2. We use bags of ice but keep the ice in the bags (don’t dump the ice in, just put it in the bottom, still bagged). Also, freeze a few gallons of water prior to the trip and put in cooler with food. We don’t put bread or boxed foods in the cooler.

    • Jackcepticeye jr // January 2, 2019 at 3:54 pm // Reply

      Last time I went camping I thought I had everything I needed but it turns out there’s some stuff I was missing, and I never remember what to put on the list what can I do to help me remember, PS love your answers very helpful

    • use a fine grained rock.

    • Use the bottom of ceramic mugs. Instant knife sharpener

  3. Why are your buns and graham crackers in the cooler with ice? Don’t want them soggy, don’t add ice.

  4. Close the lid on the cooler when it rains – especially the dry box.

  5. I put items in a ziplock bag. Pour ice and replenish as needed. Then you can use and close up the bags as you need the items without the soggy mess. If you have empty bags you can reuse them for ice packs on the trip or left overs to seal up and keep.

  6. Sealable bags of water. Frozen. Usually use a vacuum sealer. Heavy duty plastic. Now five years old.

    • We have been doing this for years. Plastic bottles with frozen water. To make it last even longer, you can pre-chill your cooler with ice from your fridge for a few hours, dump the ice, then place the jugs and food in. Why buy any reusable products when this is free.

  7. Icy Cools reusable Ice cubes. Seem to stay frozen longer than regular ice (also take longer to freeze), and no cooler full of water when melted. We like that they are small enough to surround your stuff vs the big packs of reusable ice. Not as useful for longer trips when you have to re-add ice, but great for weekend trips

  8. Old trucker // March 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    Buy freezable reusable ice containers in store just freeze when needed and throw in cooler they are sealed just keep reusing them can buy at walmart , any camping supply store come in different sizes

  9. If you’re using a truck pull the plug in the cooler so that the water drains out as the ice melts. This is an old fisherman’s trick to keep fish cold but not soggy. Your ice will last longer, too.

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