The Clever Way To Keep Your Picnic Foods Cold And Organized

When the weather gets warmer, and the sun lingers later in the evening, picnic season arrives. Planning ahead and preparing your picnic cooler the night before the big day will help ensure your food stays cold throughout your adventure. The type of cooling racks you'd typically use for baking can come in handy for a picnic, but a handful of other steps need to be taken first. 

First, decide how many coolers you want to use. Consider bringing multiple coolers to minimize the amount of necessary opening and closing. You can separate your coolers by designated them for beverages and food. Picnicking with kids? Add a kids-only cooler. That way, you also keep your food and drinks cooler by reducing the time spent with cooler lids open.

Once you've selected the number of coolers, put some ice in them overnight. That way, they begin the day at a lower temperature. The night before is also an excellent time to ensure your ice packs freeze. No ice packs? No problem. Fill up water bottles and freeze them overnight. If you want to add even more cooling and organizing tools, take kitchen sponges, soak them in water, and freeze them overnight. You can use them as cooling spacers between your food items the next day. Lastly, consider which foods may melt, such as butter or frosted desserts. Pop those in the freezer as well. Then, you can rest easy knowing you're set for a fantastic day of picnicking.

How to pack and organize your cooler

Now to pack the cooler. First, put down a layer of ice packs or frozen water bottles. Before adding food, list what you need to put in the cooler and where it goes. This trick will also help you reduce time rummaging around the cooler when you're out in the sun. Tape that list to the cooler so that everyone can see it. 

Here's where the baking cooling rack comes in. As you add your food layers, separate them with an aluminum cooling rack — the kind you use to cool cookies or cakes. Cooling racks will help you organize your food and layer other cold-creating items like ice packs, water bottles, or sponges. To take your cooler layering to the next level, pour water on a baking sheet and freeze it the night before. Use the same layering strategy to get an extra chilled organizing tool.

Other everyday items can also serve as creative picnic hacks. Use an egg carton to stack delicate bite-sized food like mini sandwiches or cakes. If you're bringing lots of little snacks — think trail mix, chocolate-covered raisins, or mini crackers — use a stackable craft organizer to keep shack foods separate and in order. Outside the cooler, use a muffin tin as a drink holder to keep them from tumbling over and onto your picnic blanket. Whatever organizing strategy you use, keeping foods in see-through containers can help you efficiently access your cooler's contents. The last step: enjoy your day out.