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Keeping food in a cooler

My fridge died, but the freezer works. The part is on it's way; however, in the mean time what are some guidelines about keeping food safe in a cooler/ice chest? I have been successful eating meals I have frozen meals that I have prepared. My larder is running low and now I am missing fresh meals. With the exception of small amounts of cheese I don't cook with much dairy so I don't need to keep milk. It has been years since I went camping so I am unsure about what keeps and what doesn't. Also, I have a small ice chest, it holds about a days worth of food. I would like to cook with some protiens like chicken or lean ground beef. Most of all I am really missing making eggs on the weekends. I would normally keep the chest outside in but I live in a condo complex and will get written up if I keep it outside (it's been in the 30's at night and 50's during the day).

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  1. My fridge was broken for several weeks last year. I was able to keep it stocked with dry ice. I used my probe thermometer to monitor the temperature without opening the door. The fridge is really just a fancy cooler!

    I kept a small cooler with ice for each days needs, refilling once or twice a day from the fridge.

    I did purchase a bit of fresh stuff from the grocery salad bar to eliminate some storage issues.


    2 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      I like the dry ice idea thanks. It beats draining water from the cooler all the time.

      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

        It's not cheap, but it was cheaper than replacing the contents of the fridge!

        If you haven't used it before make sure to wrap it well in newspaper. It lasts longer and that will protect the surfaces in the fridge - especially if you have glass shelves. Have some heavy duty gloves to handle it.

        In my area Kroger sells it by the pound. The cooler is often hidden away...it pays to call since it isn't a popular item, especially in winter!

        Good luck & hope it is fixed soon and properly.

        Edit - check at pharmacies and health food stores if you need more coolers. Many supplements are shipped in Styrofoam coolers and they will just give them to you. They often have blue ice packs free for the taking too. Since your freezer is working you may be able to just rotate through a bunch of them for the cooler.

    2. If your cooler only holds a days worth of food then all you have to do is put enough ice in there to keep the food safe until you eat it, which will be 24 hours. I wouldn't even bother with dry ice in that situation. Just don't drain all the water out as water conducts cold better than ice alone does.

      1. Keep everything wrapped so it doesn't come into contact with the melted ice. When I used to go on annual tuna fishing trips I would keep 30-40 pounds of tuna steaks in a big cooler with regular ice for 2-3 days, never had a problem.

        1. Eggs don't need to be in the fridge. A few days on a cool countertop should be fine... and well, the carton is small enough to be outside and not noticed :)

          2 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              Thanks, I had a bad experience with eggs left out too long.

          1. Buy ice blocks (if they fit in your chest) versus ice cubes. That's what we do when we go camping. Keeps beer cold for 2-3 days in the summer.

            1. We just went through this exact same situation a couple of weeks before this Thanksgiving, of all times!!

              Luckily, my pack-rat instincts (which hubby always complains about) did us in good stead this time around, since I had saved between 8-10 medium-size styrofoam coolers from online food purchase orders.

              Cleaned out the fridge of leftover unwanted sundries, & everything that was left fit into those coolers with a few bags of Walmart-purchased regular ice, which lasted for DAYS out on our deck. I understand the OP doesn't have a deck. But it still might work in the house with more replenishment of ice.

              Since the freezer was stuffed full, everything in there remained frozen solid for a full week without even an iota of thawing. By then, we had our brand-new fridge installed & all was right with the world.

              Needless to say, hubby said I can continue to keep a complimentary amount of styrofoam coolers on hand from now on. :)

              Oh, & if your "condo association" can't grant you an exemption due to a failed appliance, I feel REALLY sorry for where you're living. I thank God every single day that when we were looking for a new home we told the real estate agents not to bother showing us ANY properties that had home owners' associations. Home Owner/Condo Associations are the Nazis of real estate.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bacardi1

                Thanks, actually it is one of those trade off situations that I agreed to when I bought my unit. They are really responsive to other issues like someone parking in my space, security issues, trash pickup etc. I am happy to comply with their wishes because for the most part they are fair and do a good job of maintaining the property and quality of life.