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Dec 14, 2006 01:05 AM

Where to Buy Insulated or Foam Containers in the Los Angeles Area for Shipping Frozen Food?

I've decided that I will buy many dozen frozen tamales from a local establishment and ship them to a couple of places in the United States, including one to the east coast. I plan to ship the tamales with ice packs of sorts. Only thing is, I cannot find insulated containers (or foam containers) anywhere. Trust me, I have looked everywhere (online and by telephone, that is), including through the U.S. Post Office, UPS, FedEx, Staples, OfficeMax, Container Store, etc. None of these places carry the insulated containers.

There are SOME online stores that do sell them, but they sell them in bulk; I only need maybe 2-4 insulated containers. What more, I would not be able to check out the size of the containers before purchasing them.

Any suggestions?

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  1. If you know a local caterer or some food professional who has a membership to Restaurant Depot, they sell some. They're styrofoam. Size maybe around 3 ft x 2 ft x 10 in deep. Don't know the cost.

    1. Did you check Smart and Final Iris?

      1. I buy the soft sided zippered insulated lunch/beverage container cases at Walmart, freeze the tamales, or burritos and put the whole thing inside a cardboard box. Ship overnight. Everything arrives still frozen. I ship from San Diego to Tampa at least three times a year this way.

        Fedex, et al will NOT allow dry ice-potential explosive.

        The cases come in sizes for a 6 pack, 12 pack and 24 pack of cans. Should be large enough for what you want to send. Because I have done this for a few years now, I do buy the insulated cases before school starts, usually cheaper then. But they aren't expensive.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Cathy

          I receive my grass-fed beef via FedEx, and it DOES arrive packed with dry ice.

          1. re: RicRios

            It was maybe 2 years ago they made me take the package outside the building and remove the dry ice and told me to not bring it back in and to repackage the whole thing. I just stopped doing any ice back then and sent that package frozen and it worked.

            I do see on the FedEx site it has to be listed as a hazardous material, but can be sent now, for an additional fee.

            1. re: Cathy

              The U.S. Postal Service lists dry ice as a hazardous material, but allows it in certain situations. I'm not going to chance it, though. I think I will just go with Blue Ice (made by Rubbermaid). Hopefully that is not considered a hazardous material. I purchased a bunch from Target, but I'm going to have to get more. I wonder if there are other types of ice packs available out there. If so, where might I buy these ice packs?

              Thanks so much for everyone's suggestions so far.

        2. I've gotten them for free at Marukai in Gardena(on Western) from their frozen fish department. They usually throw them away or give them away to customers. I'm sure places like Whole Food Markets and other stores that get products like frozen seafood have them. Ask around at supermarkets or down on Central Avenue downtown and check around the seafood markets-believe me they throw them away.

          2 Replies
          1. re: monku

            Today I went to Mitsuwa, rather than Murakai, because I love this stationary store they have there (although the clerk there is rather crabby and doesn't seem well-suited to be in a profession that deals with, um, people). I also love how clean and beautifully packaged everything is at Mitsuwa.

            Anyway, I went to the fish dept at the grocery store part of Mitsuwa and inquired about styrofoam boxes. A gentleman gave me a box, and I asked to if they had another. He came out with two more styrofoam boxes. I ended up taking two boxes, and they were very good sized ones. The outside of the boxes weren't in perfect shape (with a few marks and chips), but that's okay. I insisted on paying for the boxes, realizing how expensive these boxes are, and tried to give him $4 ($2 per box), but he would not take my money. He then sprinted away. I tried to get another worker to give him the money, but he still refused to take it. Talk about generosity!

            1. re: Pamela


              Its basically trash to them after they get their stuff.

          2. Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions (and so prompt too)! These are all great ideas!