Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

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Barefootgirl
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Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Barefootgirl »

I've recently moved to a hot climate and even with an air conditioned car and a not too long of a trip home from the grocery store, some of my frozen foods had already melted.

Would an insulated bag help or is that ad hype? suggestions?
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runner3081
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by runner3081 »

We are in AZ and the bag itself is not important as how you sequence and plan shopping trips. We try to route our outings that end with buying cold items at the last stop, closest to home.

We also have standard soft-sided cooler bags in each car, they seem to work well.

Roughly like this:
https://arcticzone.com/products/45-can- ... bgQAvD_BwE

Another consideration is finding shade to park in, on multiple store trips. But this is easier said than done. Typically, the "tree" spots are taken, no matter where in the parking lot during the summer.
mbres60
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by mbres60 »

During the summer we often put a cooler with ice packs in our trunk for our restaurant doggie bags (in case we are not going straight home). This was pre pandemic when we ate in restaurants. I would suggest either a large cooler or several smaller ones to hold your frozen/refrigerated food. This means you need space in your freezer for ice packs.
random_walker_77
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by random_walker_77 »

Insulated bags help. We sometimes keep an ice chest in the trunk. For either, if we know we'll be buying ice cream, we'll throw a couple of ice packs into the insulated bag, or ice chest, before heading out. If the item needs to survive an intermediate stop, we might even throw the ice pack in the insulated bag, and then put the insulated bag into the ice chest. In a pinch, paper bags can also help, as paper is a reasonably good insulatorl

My favorite brand of ice pack is "capri sun." It's a convenient size, the juice pouches have enough space to support freezing without bursting, can be reused almost indefinitely, and of course are also good to drink after they've mostly thawed.

(Its also good to open the windows a 1/2 inch while in the store. In a hot climate, that can mean the car interior is only 120F instead of 160F)
Last edited by random_walker_77 on Sun May 02, 2021 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by RickBoglehead »

Cooler in trunk with frozen blue ice blocks. We do that regardless of climate.
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Iporante
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Iporante »

Great advice above. Like most other posters, we try to prepare ahead and take ice packs. We also keep spare insulated bags in our vehicles for impromptu shopping. When you don't have ice packs with you, I recommend bringing the insulated bag into the store where it can cool down while you shop, rather than transferring frozen items to a hot bag left in the car.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by angelescrest »

Good question. We also live in an extremely hot summer environment (sometimes 110), and frequently have to navigate multiple grocery trips into the city that are a few hours long some times, especially if we stop to get a bite to eat. So we have had to think about this. While coolers are great, we find them big, bulky, and impractical. So we use insulated bags purchased at Costco. These are quite large, enough to swallow all of our frozen goods, dairy, and eggs, of which we purchase a lot. Ice cream, too. The bags work well, and fold down so don’t take as much space.

The key is to pack the frozen goods together tightly, with the coldest (entirely frozen) items in the center, and then the other cold items like dairy around the sides or top where it’s not as cold. We used to put in a couple reusable cold packs, but I’ve found this isn’t always essential. Though on days when I know we are going to multiple stores, and can’t get the frozen goods last, we will try to bring them. Lastly, I have resorted to nesting the smaller insulated bag inside the larger insulated bag, which I think prevents warm spots on the sides, top, and bottom, from developing as much. While this might all sound like a lot, we store the two bags this way anyhow in our pantry (meaning with the slightly smaller bag inside the larger one) anyhow, so it’s no more work. All of this is really routine now; we just grab the insulated bag from the pantry when heading to Costco and other stores, and sometimes throw in the ice packs, and that’s about it. No need to buy an ice chest, and no need to make ice.

If you’re super savvy, you’ll have the Costco employees pack the goods into the insulated bags themselves, but I often skip this.
Hockey10
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Hockey10 »

When checking out, put all the refrigerated items next to each other on the conveyor belt. This makes it easier to put them in the same bag (or bags). Then place the bag in a cooler in the car with the blue ice blocks.
csm
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by csm »

In addition to the above, it can help to rearrange the frozen items into your insulated bags before you leave the grocery store. I'm never thrilled with the way the packers pack bags and try to do it myself if I can manage to do so without seeming to offend them. There is usually a place where you can step aside after leaving the check out but before heading outdoors to pack frozen and cold items appropriately into the insulated bags you bring with you so you're not having to do it outside at the car where things can start to melt quickly.

But we've tackled this problem another way, although it's not for everyone. We have a Class B camper van as our daily driver so we have a fridge for the cold items. Both Costco and Trader Joe's are a good distance from home (ca. 40 minutes) and it's nice when we do rare trips there to toss the frozen and cold items in the fridge which also means we don't have to race home after shopping. :happy

EDITED TO ADD: I was typing as the previous three posts were posted and looks like I duplicated their tips!
devopscoder
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by devopscoder »

csm wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:04 am In addition to the above, it can help to rearrange the frozen items into your insulated bags before you leave the grocery store. I'm never thrilled with the way the packers pack bags and try to do it myself if I can manage to do so without seeming to offend them.
I usually put my frozen and cold stuff in the front along with the insulated bags. If I didn’t do this, the packers will use the bags for non frozen stuff. Can’t believe that I have to point this out to them.
livesoft
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by livesoft »

I live in a hot climate. Some of our grocery stores actually sell dry ice (frozen blocks of carbon dioxide) rather cheaply, so that could keep things frozen for quite a long time.

While we have an insulated bag or two, we rarely use it. The grocery stores are no more than 10 minutes away and the car is air conditioned. Plus we rarely buy any frozen foods anymore and if we do, then we may even eat them that night, so would be thawing them anyways.

We do freeze items such as nuts and candy after we get home, but those are just on the room temperature shelves in the stores.

What are some specific frozen foods that are problematic? Maybe ice cream around its edges?
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HueyLD
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by HueyLD »

RickBoglehead wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:41 am Cooler in trunk with frozen blue ice blocks. We do that regardless of climate.
+100!
dukeblue219
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by dukeblue219 »

livesoft wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:25 am We do freeze items such as nuts and candy after we get home, but those are just on the room temperature shelves in the stores.
Why?
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by livesoft »

dukeblue219 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:28 am
livesoft wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:25 am We do freeze items such as nuts and candy after we get home, but those are just on the room temperature shelves in the stores.
Why?
Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and other nuts will go rancid because the fats in them will interact with oxygen in the air after the packages are opened. We want them to remain "fresh" for several weeks. As for the original gas-tight packaging, the minor amount of oxygen initially present reacts with the food and is used up by the reaction. Because the packaging is gas-tight, no more oxygen gets to the food unless the package is opened. Furthermore, if you buy nuts from those bulk bins, then only buy from places with high turnover and high volume. Otherwise, you will be tasting the staleness.

Folks may not appreciate how food packaging technology has changed over the years. For instance, crisps and snacks are often packaged in multi-layer laminated materials. Just see how much "foil"-lined materials are used in potato chip bags and so on nowadays. Yes, they do make composting practically impossible.

Have you ever eaten frozen almond M&Ms or frozen squares of milk chocolate? We do not freeze hard sugar candy nor buy it in the first place.
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Osterix
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Osterix »

livesoft wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:32 am
dukeblue219 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:28 am
livesoft wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:25 am We do freeze items such as nuts and candy after we get home, but those are just on the room temperature shelves in the stores.
Why?
Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and other nuts will go rancid because the fats in them will interact with oxygen in the air after the packages are opened. We want them to remain "fresh" for several weeks. As for the original gas-tight packaging, the minor amount of oxygen initially present reacts with the food and is used up by the reaction. Because the packaging is gas-tight, no more oxygen gets to the food unless the package is opened. Furthermore, if you buy nuts from those bulk bins, then only buy from places with high turnover and high volume. Otherwise, you will be tasting the staleness.

Folks may not appreciate how food packaging technology has changed over the years. For instance, crisps and snacks are often packaged in multi-layer laminated materials. Just see how much "foil"-lined materials are used in potato chip bags and so on nowadays. Yes, they do make composting practically impossible.

Have you ever eaten frozen almond M&Ms or frozen squares of milk chocolate? We do not freeze hard sugar candy nor buy it in the first place.
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Watty
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Watty »

One thing that may seem obvious is that when you are shopping be sure to put any frozen item in your shopping cart last just before you are ready to check out.

If you are not thinking about it is easy to absentmindedly put something frozen or refrigerated into your cart and walk around for 15 minutes doing other shopping before you checkout.

If I am buying something like salmon at Costco then I will take an insulated bag with me and when I get the salmon I will also get an extra plastic bag that they have by the fish. On my way out of the store I will get put some ice from the soda machine into that plastic bag to put in the insulated bag with the salmon to keep it cold.
infotrader
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by infotrader »

Cooler and ice packs in all cars and, use them year around.
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Watty
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Watty »

livesoft wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:32 am As for the original gas-tight packaging, the minor amount of oxygen initially present reacts with the food and is used up by the reaction. Because the packaging is gas-tight, no more oxygen gets to the food unless the package is opened.
Food is often packed in nitrogen gas instead of air to help keep it fresh.
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Watty
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Watty »

random_walker_77 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:38 am My favorite brand of ice pack is "capri sun." It's a convenient size, the juice pouches have enough space to support freezing without bursting, can be reused almost indefinitely, and of course are also good to drink after they've mostly thawed.
One problem with juice pouches, especially organic juice, is that they can go bad and get moldy and you will not be able to see that before you drink it and taste that it has gone bad. Always check the expiration date on juice pouches. If you give a juice pouch to a kid and they say they do not like it take that very seriously and do not encourage them to drink it. Very young kids may not be able to say that juice is bad.

After seeing some pictures on the internet of what people found in a juice pouch we do not use them very often.
JS-Elcano
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by JS-Elcano »

I shop at Whole Foods for things that need to be kept cold or frozen and they have a chest full of bags with ice next to the exit door that you can pick up and pile in your bag with the cold items. Works perfectly.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by JS-Elcano »

Watty wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 9:02 am
random_walker_77 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:38 am My favorite brand of ice pack is "capri sun." It's a convenient size, the juice pouches have enough space to support freezing without bursting, can be reused almost indefinitely, and of course are also good to drink after they've mostly thawed.
One problem with juice pouches, especially organic juice, is that they can go bad and get moldy and you will not be able to see that before you drink it and taste that it has gone bad. Always check the expiration date on juice pouches. If you give a juice pouch to a kid and they say they do not like it take that very seriously and do not encourage them to drink it. Very young kids may not be able to say that juice is bad.

After seeing some pictures on the internet of what people found in a juice pouch we do not use them very often.
... and they are the epitome of packaging waste.
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windaar
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by windaar »

Insulated bag when in the store; those silver bags that come in the Hello Fresh boxes work fine. In the car a cheap styrofoam cooler works well even without an ice block inside.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by dukeblue219 »

livesoft wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 8:32 am
Have you ever eaten frozen almond M&Ms or frozen squares of milk chocolate? We do not freeze hard sugar candy nor buy it in the first place.
No, but I’m intrigued. I do enjoy a frozen Reese’s so I can see the possibility…
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by squirm »

just grab the frozen foods last.
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HueyLD
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by HueyLD »

squirm wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 9:39 am just grab the frozen foods last.
When it is 200 degrees inside of a car, that won’t help.

Having a cooler with lots of frozen blue ice packs works well for up to certain time frame. Again, it is temperature dependent.

Alternatively, one can go shopping at 6 a.m..
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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by FrugalInvestor »

We use a plug-in electric cooler designed for cars. Ours is a Massimo from Costco but other (less expensive) types are available at WalMart, Amazon, etc. It just stays in our back seat unless we're taking someone with us somewhere. When we buy anything that's refrigerated or frozen it goes into the cooler and that way we don't need to worry about anything spoiling or melting even if we're making other stops.

We also like to take road trips and the plug-in cooler is ideal for that. We keep things like cold drinks, fruit, meat and cheese or anything else that we want to keep cold or keep from melting in it. We often take it in hotel rooms with us to keep the contents cold and avoid risking running down our car battery. It's very convenient and allows us to stop and have an enjoyable picnic lunch anywhere we happen to be.

The trick is finding the right size for your vehicle so it fits without moving around and is convenient to access.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by squirm »

HueyLD wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 10:32 am
squirm wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 9:39 am just grab the frozen foods last.
When it is 200 degrees inside of a car, that won’t help.

Having a cooler with lots of frozen blue ice packs works well for up to certain time frame. Again, it is temperature dependent.

Alternatively, one can go shopping at 6 a.m..
I live in a hot climate and never never had anything melt ice cream gets soft that's it. Then blast the air conditioning to cool the car.
Last edited by squirm on Sun May 02, 2021 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
Teague
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Teague »

Simple is to keep a spare towel in your car, a good idea for lots of reasons. Pile the cold and frozen foods together, thereby decreasing their effective surface area to volume ratio. Cover them with your towel. This is imperfect but adequate and easy for a 20-30 minute drive in our hot climate.
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teCh0010
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by teCh0010 »

Remote start the car 10 min before you leave (make sure and leave AC on).

Don’t put cold stuff in the trunk, put it in the passenger compartment. Blast the AC. Cover it to keep the sun off.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Nyc10036 »

small cooler
ice packs/Blue ice
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by MJS »

When the temperature is over 105, I postpone shopping until the sun is down and it's cooled off to the 90's.

I second arranging your shopping to pick up cooler and freezer foods last, and packing them together.

Do keep your cooler inside, in air conditioned space: a cooler left in the car will be air temperature. A car AC can't cool it down to 70 in 20 minutes. Putting cold food in a hot box is bad physics!

In Arizona's dry heat season, I put a damp towel in the empty cooler, then put it on top of the box for the drive home: instant evaporative cooling.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by NewishBog »

FrugalInvestor wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 10:48 am We use a plug-in electric cooler designed for cars. Ours is a Massimo from Costco but other (less expensive) types are available at WalMart, Amazon, etc. It just stays in our back seat unless we're taking someone with us somewhere. When we buy anything that's refrigerated or frozen it goes into the cooler and that way we don't need to worry about anything spoiling or melting even if we're making other stops.

We also like to take road trips and the plug-in cooler is ideal for that. We keep things like cold drinks, fruit, meat and cheese or anything else that we want to keep cold or keep from melting in it. We often take it in hotel rooms with us to keep the contents cold and avoid risking running down our car battery. It's very convenient and allows us to stop and have an enjoyable picnic lunch anywhere we happen to be.

The trick is finding the right size for your vehicle so it fits without moving around and is convenient to access.
Me too. If your cargo area isn't overflowing, this is a nice solution. Plug in/turn on the Mossimo before you leave and although it might not be perfectly cold, it will get the job done by the time you get home. Always pick up cold items last in your trip.
dukeblue219
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by dukeblue219 »

The simplest answer to OPs question is yes, the insulated bags work well enough and take up nearly zero space folded in your trunk. Put the frozen stuff in at checkout and don’t make extra stops after grocery shopping and you’ll be fine.

You really shouldn’t need a cooler with ice packs unless you have a very long commute to your grocery store.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Mudpuppy »

My advice would be similar to the others. Try not to shop during the hottest part of the day (aim for morning or evening shopping). Try to find shade to park in (your "shade seeking algorithm" will develop naturally over time). Put the cold/frozen items in the cart last while in the store. Put all cold/frozen items in the same insulated bag(s). Go home directly after purchasing and put away the cold/frozen items first.

Honestly, most of the melted items I've experienced were already melted (and often refrozen) at the store, so another tip that I haven't seen mentioned is to check the thermometer in the cold/freezer case (there should be one at regular intervals) and avoid purchasing to begin with if the temperature is too high. I've seen many grocery store cold cases outside of the safe zone, ranging from a malfunctioning case to too many people having the door open in the recent past.

Also pay attention to the packaging. If it doesn't feel cold, if there's frost built up on it, or if you can see inside the packaging and it looks like it melted and refroze in the past, it probably has not been kept at a consistent temperature, either due to a malfunctioning cold case or improper handling. If you've ever been in a store during a restocking phase, you'll see that the frozen items are deposited in the middle of the aisle, where employees then put them into the cases. They can start melting if they're left out in the aisle for too long. There's also the customer factor, where someone might wander around with it in their cart for half an hour, then decide to put it back.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by RudyS »

RickBoglehead wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:41 am Cooler in trunk with frozen blue ice blocks. We do that regardless of climate.
Works well for us.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by four7s »

Styrofoam coolers from Omaha Steaks works for us.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by wallygator »

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Massimo-E-K ... cale=en-US

These are amazing. I have 2. Bought via Costco for $250. each. Expensive but worth it. I hard wired a dual 12v outlet directly from the battery to the back of our SUV. One is a fridge the other is a freezer when travelling. Beers at 29 degrees and no Ice ever is worth the price of admission alone.

Seem a little small but no ice...

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by FrugalInvestor »

wallygator wrote: Tue May 04, 2021 5:40 am https://www.homedepot.com/p/Massimo-E-K ... cale=en-US

These are amazing. I have 2. Bought via Costco for $250. each. Expensive but worth it. I hard wired a dual 12v outlet directly from the battery to the back of our SUV. One is a fridge the other is a freezer when travelling. Beers at 29 degrees and no Ice ever is worth the price of admission alone.

Seem a little small but no ice...

Wally
That's the same one I use (also purchased mine through Costco). I keep in in the back seat of my SUV for better accessibility and run the cord to the 12v outlet in the cargo area (it's plenty long). For years we've used a thermoelectric cooler and prior to that regular cooler with ice but the Massimo with compressor is by far the best. It cools things down much more quickly and can be set to keep them at whatever temperature you want (down to 0 degrees F). It's by far the best solution we've found both for local shopping trips as well as long road trips.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by willthrill81 »

RickBoglehead wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:41 am Cooler in trunk with frozen blue ice blocks. We do that regardless of climate.
Great tip. You can't get a cooler's temperature much below about 30F, and 40F is more typical, but you can keep frozen foods mostly frozen for quite a while in such a cool environment.
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Re: Tips for Carrying Food in Hot Climate?

Post by Brianmcg321 »

A cheap cooler with some ice packs.

I do this regularly just in case I decide to take a detour and I’ve got some ice cream.
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