Essential Tips for Transporting Food on Long Road Trips

March 21, 2024

It’s November — you know what that means! Time to pile the kids in the car with casserole dishes and pie tins, and it’s off to grandmother’s house you go for the big family Thanksgiving dinner! But if your destination is more than an hour away, your mashed potatoes and stuffing can be susceptible to bacteria growth. Because you certainly don’t want to make your family sick for the holidays, here are some tips for how to keep food in cars on long road trips and prevent foodborne illnesses:

Invest in a good cooler. There are thousands of different kinds of coolers on the market, so do some research to find one that works the best for you. Ideally, a cooler should create an airtight seal to help trap cold air inside — the rest is up to your preference!

Be strategic in packing your cooler. Pack food in the order you’re going to consume it — desserts on the bottom and appetizers and snacks on top — to minimize the amount of the time the cooler will be open. Don’t leave a lot of open spaces either; a full cooler is an insulated cooler so food will stay refrigerated longer. Fill any open spots with ice, frozen water bottles, or chilled drinks.

Remember: hot air rises, cold air sinks. In order to keep cold foods cool, put ice on top of your dishes. Likewise, when heating food, the heating element goes under your dishes.

Buy fresh food. Cooking with ingredients that are fresh and far from an expiration date gives you the most wiggle room for your dishes and leftovers. This doesn’t mean that you can skip out on cooling or warming your food! Even the freshest ingredients can harbor bacteria in the right environments, particularly warm and wet, so you’ll want to try to prevent illness by keeping food cool and dry.

Of course, making sure your car is in tip-top shape would be our best tip — coolers can’t help much in the event of a breakdown! Be sure to visit your local Rad Air Complete Car Care & Tire Center, and we’ll get you and your family car ready for that Thanksgiving road trip, whether you are driving across Cleveland or traveling outside of Ohio.