How to Keep Food Fresh on a Trip: 13 Steps

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How to Keep Food Fresh on a Trip: 13 Steps
How to Keep Food Fresh on a Trip: 13 Steps

When you go on a trip, the last thing you want is to run out of food along the way because it went bad. Therefore, it is important to know how to prepare and package the food that you are going to take to keep it fresh for as long as possible. So, learn here how to plan to take the right amount of food and organize all food and drinks in a cooler so you don't waste time or money needing to stop at any station on the road to eat.


Part 1 of 2: Setting things up a day early

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 1

Step 1. Choose foods that are easy to prepare and that will last a long time

Generally speaking, cold cuts such as ham, cheese and sausage, fruits, some vegetables, a pasta salad and other pre-cooked foods are good choices to take on a trip. Plan easy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for each day you travel, and pack the necessary ingredients.

  • Take only enough raw meats and other highly perishable items for the first two days at most, as these foods spoil very quickly.
  • Sandwiches and wraps (type Rap 10) are easy to take on a trip, and their fillings may last longer in the cooler.
Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 2

Step 2. Prepare and separate your food into portions to place in the cooler

Leave the fruits and vegetables chopped to save space in the cooler and get them ready to eat. Also pack the cold ones in smaller packages and take only what you need.

  • You may want to leave some dishes already prepared, such as a pasta or potato salad, beans, or some chicken or other meat to use in sandwiches or wraps for the first two days.
  • If you're bringing condiments, put small amounts of them in smaller containers rather than the large packages they come in.


to keep food fresh while traveling, you'll need a good cooler. So choose one that is at least 5 cm thick and made of molded plastic. It's also better to use two coolers, one for storing food and the other for drinks.

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 3

Step 3. Place ready-to-eat foods in tightly closed containers or sealable bags

Store food in plastic bags with a Zip lock closure or in Tupperware with hermetic closure to prevent the lids from opening and the food from falling into the cooler.

  • Save as much space as possible by putting food in bags and containers big enough to fit. This will save space and make food more tightly packed in the cooler, keeping food warm better.
  • Don't put raw, wet foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in sealed containers, otherwise they won't stay fresh. So either you take them unwashed or wash them and let them dry completely before packing them.
Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 4

Step 4. Freeze all perishable foods that you will not be eating on the first day to keep them fresh longer

Put foods that go bad quickly, especially raw meats, in the freezer the day before your trip and let them freeze overnight. Defrost only enough food for the first day of meals on your trip.

  • You can also freeze fruits and vegetables that you won't eat right away to keep them fresh longer.
  • Cold cuts and dairy products can be left in the fridge anyway, as they don't go bad that quickly.
Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 5

Step 5. Place any perishable foods you are going to bring in the refrigerator

Put all the rest of the food that could go bad in the fridge the day before you travel to extend their shelf life. This includes dairy products, fruits and vegetables.

You don't need to do this with non-perishable foods like nuts, nuts and other foods that don't go bad at room temperature

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 6

Step 6. Freeze enough water bottles to "line" the bottom of the cooler

See how many bottles of water fit in the bottom of the cooler and freeze at least that amount to take away. They will act as blocks of ice to keep the food cool in the cooler and you'll still have water to drink for a while.

  • You can do this by using several standard-sized water bottles or by filling two larger bottles with water and freezing them to form larger blocks of ice. For example, 2L soda bottles or the 1.5L water bottles themselves work well as ice blocks for large coolers.
  • If you don't have or don't want to use water bottles, use ice blocks yourself or freeze some water in plastic bags to make ice blocks.
Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 7

Step 7. Fill the cooler with tap water and one or two bags of ice the night before to cool it down

Take the cooler out of the pantry and place it in a cooler place. Then pour an ice pack or two into it, fill the rest with tap water and close it, leaving it that way until the next day.

  • This way, the cooler will already be cooled down by the time you put food and drinks in it, which will keep the food cooler and better preserved for longer.
  • Remember to dump the ice and water out of it before putting on any food you will take on the trip.

Part 2 of 2: Arranging the Cool Box the Right Way

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 8

Step 1. "Line" the bottom of the cooler with frozen water bottles

Take the water bottles out of the freezer and place them in the bottom of the cooler to form the base layer of ice that will keep food cold and fresh.

The cooler will be the last thing you'll pack before going on your trip. Take everything you have stored in the fridge and freezer and immediately place them in the cooler before leaving so that these foods stay at room temperature for as little time as possible, keeping them fresh for longer

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 9

Step 2. Place frozen food on top of frozen water bottles

These are the items you will eat last and the least "delicate"; then place them at the very bottom of the cooler. They will also remain frozen longer if they are in direct contact with the ice blocks.

  • Remember that all frozen meats and other items must be tightly sealed so they don't run the risk of leaking into the cooler as they defrost.
  • Place all pots with the lid up so they don't accidentally open inside the box.
Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 10

Step 3. Place a layer of ice cubes between each layer of food

Pour a layer of ice cubes on top of frozen food before putting away the next layer of food. Do this between each layer you save to keep food cooler longer.

During the trip, do not throw the melted ice away unless you exchange it for "fresh" ice. Even melted, its ice water will help keep food cold and fresh longer

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 11

Step 4. Place refrigerated non-"delicate" foods in the middle of the cooler

Now, pack all the items you refrigerated that are not in danger of being crushed, such as condiments, fruit already chopped in jars, ham, cheese and defrosted meat that you will eat that day.

Remember to put another layer of ice cubes on top of these foods before moving on to the next layer of food

Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 12

Step 5. Place "delicate" foods on top so you don't run the risk of crushing them

Put foods that can be easily crushed, such as eggs and vegetables in plastic bags, last in the cooler so as not to leave anything heavy on them. Finally, cover these more fragile foods with a light layer of ice cubes to keep them fresh too.

  • The fuller the cooler is, the more these foods will be preserved and for a longer time. If there are a lot of empty spaces in the box, fill them with ice cubes or use frozen or refrigerated drinks to fill those gaps.
  • You can also store things you want to access more easily, such as your first day's lunch, on top of the cool box.
Keep Food Fresh on a Road Trip Step 13

Step 6. Use a separate cooler to carry the drinks

Store drinks in a separate box so you don't have to open and close the food cooler at all times. After all, the longer the lid of your cooler is open, the faster the ice will melt and the food will start to heat up.

If you don't have a second cooler, store a layer of beverages between frozen and non-delicate refrigerated foods, also leaving some beverages stored on top of the cooler so you can pick them up more easily


when traveling, put coolers in the car last and, if possible, leave them in the backseat, not in the trunk. Remember to keep coolers closed as much as possible while traveling and place them in shady places whenever you take them out of the car.

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