Winter is coming. It may even be in full force by the time you read this, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw your cooler bag in the cupboard until next summer.
Granted, there are probably fewer picnics, barbeques, and day trips, but cooler bags can actually be used year-round. They double up as insulated bags to keep your frozen shopping cold and ensure your side dish gets to the holiday dinner table warm. This means fewer bags to buy and store, saving money and space.
Canny business owners could invest in branded cooler bags as presents for clients and/or employees, which will serve as adverts for the company at the supermarket, family gatherings, and, eventually, outdoor meetups with friends.
Tips for using a cooler bag
Knowing how to use a cooler bag seems obvious. Open, put in food and ice, and close. However, some simple hacks will make the bag more effective, no matter what you’re using it for.
For keeping food and drinks cold
- Store your cooler bag in a cold place: If you place ice packs and chilled food in a room-temperature bag, a lot of the ice will be used up to cool the bag down. That’s why you should store your cooler bag in a colder room of the house, like the conservatory, garage, or even the car. If that’s not practical all the time, try doing it just before you need to use the cooler bag.
- Opt for ice packs: Individual ice cubes will cool your food down faster but do also melt. This makes it less effective at keeping stuff cool for longer periods and can result in water filling the bottom of your bag (or dripping out, if your bag isn’t waterproof). Another option is to freeze drinks overnight and pop them in the cooler, however, you shouldn’t fill bottles all the way to the top as water expands when freezing.
- Fill your cooler bag up: Airflow will melt ice faster and heat up the cooler, so minimise pockets of air where possible. Add extra food or ice blocks if you have more, but otherwise use cloth napkins, a towel, scrap paper, or anything else that you can think of that is clean and will fit in those little spaces.
- Seek out the shade: After filling your cooler bag, keep it away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight where possible. This might mean storing it under your other shopping bags in the boot or placing it in the footwell under a cover. If meeting outside, keep it under a blanket, and if bringing the cooler in, don’t put it next to the fire or radiator before transferring stuff to the fridge/freezer.
For keeping food and drinks warm
- Heat the cooler: Before packing, keep the cooler bag somewhere warm and then rinse it with hot water to warm the inside.
- Wrap it up: Wrap food inside two layers of foil, before placing it on top of a (clean!) folded up towel at the bottom of the cooler. Place another folded towel on top.
Now that you know how to hack your cooler, you can use it year-round for so many different tasks, which will save you money and hassle.