Tailgate Cooler Packing Tips

Stadium-bound this weekend? Before you head out, study this game-day guide, plan ahead, and avoid a nightmare of gastronomic proportions.
Shannon Sliter Satterwhite, Kenner Patton

Like a scene from a horror flick, your homemade ham salad or crowd-pleasing casserole could come back to haunt you--and everyone else at your tailgate party--if you don't practice safe food storage. Follow our easy advice to prevent a real-life disaster.

Whether you're tailgating, hiking, camping, or just planning a picnic, these food guidelines always apply.
 

  • Reserve the bottom of the cooler for colder foods.
     
  • Store salads, spreads, and dips in tightly sealed containers.
     
  • Pack hamburger, hot dogs, and other meats separately in individual zip-top plastic freezer bags.
     
  • Fill your cooler with plenty of ice, or use ice packs and frozen bottles of water. If traveling a long distance, consider taping the cooler lid with sturdy tape for a tighter seal.
     
  • Keep cooked and raw foods in separate containers. If you plan to cook on-site, make sure you pack additional clean plates. Never place produce or cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat.
     
  • Follow the one-hour rule: Foods that need refrigeration should not sit out longer than one hour.