15 Stupid-Easy Cooler Hacks For Summer

Never eat a soggy sandwich again.

Cooler Hacks
Flickr/Christine Chau

Cookouts, camping trips, days at the beach—they're all fun and games until you pop open the lid of your cooler, only to find a sea of mostly melted ice, soggy sandwiches and questionably spoiled potato salad. It's the kind of disappointment that can send you from hangry to straight-up seeing red, ready to stomp on sandcastles and react to even the simplest questions with a kind of vitriol normally seen only on a Real Housewives reunion special.

It's time to squash that frustration before it happens. These clever ideas for your cooler will help avoid a less-than-desirable lunch—and ensure that a party foul doesn't ruin your fun.

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1 Line Your Cooler Like This.

Reflectix, an aluminized bubble wrap, is often used to insulate homes, but some campers swear by it to keep the inside of their coolers even cooler — especially if you keep opening and closing the tub every 10 minutes (which, if you're hosting a party, is more like every 3 minutes). One blogger went all out lining her cooler with the stuff, and said of her road trip.


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2 Bust Out the Big Balloons.

Larger ice takes longer to melt, which is what makes this hack so brilliant: Fill and freeze water balloons, then nestle them around the drinks and food you need to keep cool. Once the balloons have totally thawed, you've got all the ammo you need for an epic water balloon fight. (Just don't start before the ice has fully melted, unless you're some kind of monster.)

Make things even easier using or a similar product, which lets you fill up a ton of water balloons at once.

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3 Or Create Your Own Ice Block.

If water balloons aren't your style, you could also create one massive block of ice to store in the center of the cooler, using an airtight plastic container, like a box. Fill it with ice, freeze it, and place the entire container in the center of your cooler, arranging the food around it. When it melts, it won't gush water all over your goods. Put the most perishable items closest to the ice block, recommends.

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4 Put Your Franzia Obsession to Good Use.

If you harbor a secret love of boxed wine, it's time to broadcast it loud and proud (ain't no shame in your frugal, vino-sippin' game!). And by broadcast it, we mean washing out the bags inside of the box when you're done getting your Chardonnay par-tay on, filling them up with your drink of choice—perhaps punch or a big-batch cocktail—and freezing them to use as ice packs. As things (literally) heat up, you can cool off with a thawed beverage that comes with its own easy-pour spout.

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5 Delish Grilling Headquarters
image
Parker Feierbach

Get all Delish's favorites for outdoor cooking season.

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6 Create a Dry Zone.

Sometimes, you need a layer of added protection, separating your beloved (or whatever you're eating that day) from ice, drinks and other things that could turn your lunch into a squishy, soggy mess. Once your ice and libations are packed, place a layer of cooling racks on top of them, then add your meant-to-stay-dry foods. They'll stay cool — and in tact.

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7 Upgrade Your Wheels.

Make like it's 2002 and pimp your ride. And by "ride," we mean rolling cooler. has a complete tutorial for adding a set of supersized, heavy-duty wheels that can glide easily over sand, rocks and gravelly parking lots.

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8 Go for the Glow.

As your party rages on into the night, bust out some glow sticks and add them to the cooler itself, so when you open the lid, not only will there be a majestic glow — you can see what the heck's in there without fumbling for your cell's flashlight feature.

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9 Transport Eggs the Easy Way.

If you're camping and want to whip up an omelette the next morning, skip the carton of fresh eggs and try this hack instead: Clean out a water bottle or other plastic container, put a funnel on top and crack eggs into it. You can use a Sharpie to mark how much liquid is in the container with every 2-3 eggs, making it easy to pour out just enough to make a three-egg omelette, or a single-egg scramble.

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10 Make Every Inch Matter.

Use stick-on Velcro strips to attach a gallon-sized plastic bag to the inside of the cooler's lid. In it, you can store light, easy-to-forget essentials, like napkins, straws, cutlery and even hand sanitizer. One Good Thing by Jillee .

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11 Stop Second-Guessing Yourself.

Sticking a mini thermometer on the inside of your cooler can help you gauge how warm your food's getting — and when you're better off tossing that egg salad, so you don't toss your cookies later.

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12 Seal Things Off.

If you really, really want to keep things cool for as long as possible, you can also buy a thin sheet of foam — or trim an old yoga mat you've scrubbed clean — and lay it on top of the food, as an extra bit of insulation. Doing that, and keeping the cooler out of direct sunlight, can help everything stay chill, so you can be, too.

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13 Make Your Own Ice Packs.

One stop at the hardware store and you've got all it takes to make these super versatile ice packs! Customize them with spray paint or washi tape and you've got the most stylish cooler around.

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14 Supersize It!

Got an old refrigerator? Make it into the most epic cooler ever! If you're handy you can even make a case for it out of 2x4s. Talk about upcycling!

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15 Caulk The Cooler And Float It

Dining poolside? Attach some pool noodles to your cooler with zip-ties and never be without an ice cold brew.

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16 Be A Bench Potato.

This cooler/bench combo is the stuff of barbecue legends. Get crafty and build your cooler into a simple wooden bench and have the laziest summer of all time.

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