Freebie Friday: What’s In Your Cooler?

September 10, 2010 | By | Comments (33)

It may be hot as you know where in your town, but Fall is definitely in the air. How do I know? The chatter, the plans, the talk around football. I find there are two schools of thought around the subject of football: Those who think it’s a base form of brutality and human depravity. And those who think it’s the essence of good times and good-spirited competition (and a great excuse to have a boat-load of fun). Whatever side you’re on, it brings me to another fun subject: packing a cooler.

Whether you’re packing a cooler for a tailgate, for a camping trip, or for an afternoon in the park, there’s usually some delight to be had wherever your cooler lands. Thanks to our friends at, we’re giving away a Coleman 75-Quart Xtreme 5-Day Wheeled Cooler, which is one primo-delux-superfancy cooler that’s sure to help get your fun started on the right foot…or rollers in this case. Here’s how it works: 41JYVr1kRkL._SL500_AA300_  


Step 1: “Like” us on Facebook (use the Facebook box to the right and click “Like” if you don’t already like us).

Step 2: Describe for us here in 75 words or less your typical cooler packing list. Feel free to throw in what event you’re taking the cooler to. Entries should be typed into the comments field of this blog post. Entries are due by Monday, September 13 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Editors will select their favorite based on originality, creativity, and how well you address our question. Winner will be notified via email by September 16, 2010. For full contest rules, click here.

1008p159-clear-cooler-l Check out 1-Cooler, 1-Weekend Getaway from the August 2010 issue that breaks down an entire weekend of menus, all that will fit in one cooler and one carry-along bag. The recipes are great and all the organization is done for you.

PS: Congrats to the winner of our grill giveaway last week, Cheryl.  Here is her inspiring summer food memory that made us want to drag out the dog days of summer.

"Ocean City, New Jersey. August. Sunset. Standing knee-deep in the surf, eating peaches. The warm late afternoon current, the peach juice running down bare arms, the breeze just starting to pick up.”


  1. detail battery

    My admired acknowledgment packing complex my 10-year-old son’s appeal for “Family SOS Day.” In his cutting hand-written agenda he explained that he didn’t feel we were “connected” as a family; SOS was badly needed! Putting Noah in allegation of the card advance to Cold absurd chicken, Pizza Pasta Salad, cottage cheese, and everyone’s admired drinks arranged into our accurate cooler. The aliment angled out our absolute ancestors day at adjacent Sylvan Island. SOS answered.

    September 16, 2010 at 10:50 pm
  2. Maxcine Collier

    Southern style comfort food, just like my late mom put in a cooler when I was a child is still in my cooler now. Fried chicken, homemade potato salad, lettuce and tomatoes on which to place the potato salad, lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemons and delicious sweet potato salad. Still “yummy for my tummy”, like I would say as a kid. Thanks, Mom!!

    September 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm
  3. Maxcine Collier

    Southern Style Comfort food, just like my late Mom packed in our battered cooler when I was a kid is in my cooler now! Fried chicken, potato salad, lettuce and tomatoes on which to put the fried chicken. Oh yes, sweet potato pie and lemonade. Still “yummy for my tummy” just like when I was a kid! Thanks, Mom!!

    September 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm
  4. Maxcine Collier

    Southern style comfort food –my cooler is loaded with the same food that I remember my late mom packing in our slightly battered cooler when I was a child. There is crispy fried chicken (Now it is my oven fried recipe that is just like the real thing, but healthier.),lots of potato salad, and lettuce and sliced tomatoes on which to put the potato salad. (No dressing needed!!)Oh yes, homemade lemonade actually squeezed from fresh lemons. What’s for dessert? Good southern style sweet potato pie is always included!! “Yummy for my tummy”, as I use to say when I was a kid! Thanks, Mom!!

    September 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm
  5. Christine

    Our cooler for gameday tailgating always includes the following: Beers, Sofia Canned Wine, Cut up lime wedges, water and a couple of sandwiches. Gotta keep it simple 🙂

    September 13, 2010 at 11:56 am
  6. Shannon Baldus

    We are going to the zoo this coming week and they allow you to bring your own foods. We will pack hot dogs, fried chicken, cole slaw, pickles, peanuts (I love them chilled) and lots of water. I’ll even throw in some ice wraps for in case of overheating. I think we are gonna make some monkeys jealous with all this food. I’m so ready.

    September 13, 2010 at 11:07 am
  7. Steph@PlainChicken

    We usually pack for our football tailgate – Diet Coke, beer, dip and wine!

    September 13, 2010 at 9:54 am
  8. Sarah

    Hmm, Homemade lemonade, a bottle or two of Savignon Blanc for Cloudy Bay Vineyardin New Zealand.
    An anitpasto selection, sundried tomatoes,marinated feta,pesto,pate and crostini to snack on.
    For the main meal.
    A chicken and vegetable terrine,served with a green mayonaise.Some small picnic pies, ham and tomato,potato salad.Crusty bread.
    Dessert:Date Cake with runny cream. Fresh strawberries…YuM

    September 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm
  9. Saija Searles

    Typical cooler to a lunch at a park would include soda, bottles of water and juice boxes, grapes, strawberries and blueberries, some kind of sandwiches and carrots. If it would be for an evening picnic, it would also include a nice bottle of wine!

    September 12, 2010 at 4:09 pm
  10. Linda Carnett

    My favorite picnic foods are from Cooking Light’s “Stargazing Menu”. I’d pack the ‘Stellar Sesame Shrimp with Miso Dipping Sauce’, ‘Celestial Chicken, Mint, and Cucumber Skewers with Spring Onion Sauce’, ‘Out-of-This-World Pizza with Goat Cheese and Fig Tapenade’, ‘Watermelon-and-Kiwi Skewers with Starry Strawberry Cream’, ‘Heavenly Apricot Cobbler Bars’, and a bottle of our favorite wine and head to the local mountains on a warm and clear summer night to do some serious eating and stargazing, too, of course!

    September 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm
  11. Candace Beck

    There is nothing better in the south than SEC football and tailgating!!! The cooler will be put to good use for hamburger patties ready for the grill along with the condiments. What is tailgating without southern potato salad and already prepared fried chicken. Throw in some beer, sodas and ranch dip for your fav chips and you are ready to go!!
    WAR EAGLE!!!!!

    September 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm
  12. Meghan F.

    We love camping and have always had two coolers. One for the kids, with juices, yogurts, fruit, and sandwiches ziplocked and ready to go! Then the adult cooler with beer,white wine, and ice to make any number of yummy mixed drink. So in summary, the kids cooler keeps the kids fed and happy, while the adult cooler keeps the adults happily drinking! 🙂

    September 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm
  13. Kate H

    Beer, fruit, cheese, meats, crackers, wine and water. Don’t need much else 🙂

    September 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm
  14. Sonia Archer-Capuzzo

    A cooler for my husband and me for a picnic lunch would include a few bottles of beer, a few (refillable) bottles of water, a couple of salads that we put together before we leave, the homemade dressing in a separate container, fresh bread and soft or pre-sliced cheese, and some sort of simple dessert like Cooking Light cookies or brownies. Plus, we usually need a few treats for the dogs. 🙂

    September 12, 2010 at 2:22 pm
  15. Amber

    I love going to a nearby state park for a day trip or easy car camping with friends. Our cooler essentials are frozen water bottles and club soda, fresh fruits and veggies, hummus, nuts, and the makings of a make-your-own sandwich picnic: whole grain flatbread, cold roasted chicken, and roasted and raw veggies, cheese, olives and spreads. And of course a couple of good bottles of wine to share!

    September 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm
  16. Janis

    Beer, cold cuts, cheese, mayo, side salads, wine, water, fruit salad, cold pack, cheese and crackers.

    September 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Dill pickle potato salad, deviled crab stuffed eggs, pea salad, corn in husks with butter and lime,cotija cheese and cayenne for grilling. meatloaf in hollowed out big vidallia onions for grilling in aluminum foil balls. Baked beans. pineapple coconut layer cake. jello shots to drop innocently into your lemonade!

    September 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm
  18. Paige Bacon

    Trip: Music at the zoo or music in the park
    The cooler list: Fresh apple cider or iced tea, power peanut butter, celery sticks, club sandwiches for the adults with turkey bacon, red onion, spicy mustard, and turkey or ham. We bring along tortilla cheese wraps with pureed cinnamon apple sauce for my son. Two bags of cookies and salt and pepper kettle chips and we are good to go.

    September 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm
  19. Lisa

    Every year in August, 60 of our closest friends camp on 18 acres near the Pine river in Ontario. It’s pretty communal weekend. This year I brought pre-made breakfast burritos, a massive muffaletta, beef ribs (with homemade bbq sauce), lemons and herbs for fish we caught, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and wine, of course!

    September 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm
  20. Paige Bacon

    The cooler list: Granny Smith apples, almond butter or power peanut butter, assorted fresh veggies sliced (carrot sticks, bell pepper, olives,celery), Crackers, assorted sliced cheeses, assorted sliced meats or jerky, jug of homemade iced tea with lemon slices. Homemade tea bread and cookies. The trip: Fishing

    September 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm
  21. Jennifer C.

    We live close to the beach and we love to tailgate so we are cooler packing pros! We get several bags of delicious crushed ice, that we can use with our cocktails! We pack soft drinks, liquor, beers, and frozen fruit for the beverages! We also pack dips for the snacks- onion, guacamole, and homemade salsa are great! We make sandwich roll ups with tortillas and fruit salad and pasta salad! Poof – a party in a cooler!

    September 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm
  22. Laurel L. McCreary

    My favorite cooler packing involved my 10-year-old son’s plea for “Family SOS Day.” In his scratchy hand-written note he explained that he didn’t feel we were “connected” as a family; SOS was desperately needed! Putting Noah in charge of the menu lead to Cold fried chicken, Pizza Pasta Salad, cottage cheese, and everyone’s favorite drinks packed into our trusty cooler. The food rounded out our perfect family day at nearby Sylvan Island. SOS answered.

    September 11, 2010 at 11:01 am
  23. Shanee

    We pack, quart-sized bags of ice, a layer of canned drinks, with an adult-mixed beverage in gallon container. We pack fresh fruit and cheese. Crackers and chips. Sometimes I’ll throw in frozen grapes or melon balls for the kids to chew on and cool down.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm
  24. Manon Lessard

    We rarely pack a lot of things in advance but things that are are ready to eat, like cooked chicken breast, cereal bars, cheese and fruit.
    We prefer to pitch the tent and then plan our meals depending on what is planned as excursions and what not: I’d rather buy only what we need and finish it than pack a whole lot and trash half of it.
    Then again, we don’t have kids yet. I guess that will change when impatient little ones will be hungry.

    September 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm
  25. Betty Jo Jones

    We pack our cooler when heading down to our West Virginia cabin. We always take milk and orange juice for breakfasts along with bacon and eggs; greens for salads; and currently elk steads or ground elk for a dinner. We use frozen gel packs to keep everything cool and I usually put in a bag of other food items that do not need to be kept cool in order to fill up the empty space.

    September 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm
  26. Bessie Burnsed

    I’ve never been tubing and I hope I pack the right foods for our trip down the Guadalupe river. It will be hot and bagged ice melts quickly so we make our own using empty water bottles. I’ll pack water and juice. Homemade chicken wraps, corn on the cob, apples, grapes, cheese sticks, watermelon slices, puddings in a cup, pickles for dehydration and an ice pack in case of overheating. Good Times to be had.

    September 10, 2010 at 5:12 pm
  27. Phyllis Alvey

    In the 44 years that we have been married,we have used our coolers in so many different ways.From road trips to drive in movies, assemblies and boatings. Any time we go out anywhere for a day it is with us. Usually filled with Fruit,Soda bottles emptied and filled with water then froze. And beer, soda’s, hotdogs in tinfoil wrapped still warm with cheese and chilly. I lost my husband a year and a half ago to a heart attack so we plan to eat differently. I have always had to have my fruit but the beer and soda’s won’t be on our pontoon any more.Saddly neither will our best friend.

    September 10, 2010 at 4:14 pm
  28. Adrian Burton

    We pack our cooler full of goodies for a picnic in the Ouachita National forest in SE Oklahoma or when going to festivals like Tuskahoma put on by the Choctaw nation! Our typical goodies include: fresh veggies, sandwiches on fresh baked homemade wheat bread, chips of all kinds, sodas, Gatorade, water, and for dessert a fruit pizza!! Depending on the time of year like summer I might throw in pea salad, potatoe salad, chicken sandwiches on croissants…ect.

    September 10, 2010 at 4:05 pm
  29. pc

    In the summer a cooler goes to the barn with me every day, packed with plenty of ice, water and sports drinks. Can’t forget the watermelon and carrots to share with my horse.

    September 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm
  30. reva skie

    The drive in theater is the best place to tote a cooler full of cold fried chicken, fruit and sour cream dip, veggies and ranch dip, and lots of alcoholic lemonade and bottles of water.

    September 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm
  31. Jordan P

    Carolina’s first home game is against Georgia Tech next weekend, so I’ve already plotted the tailgate cooler! In true southern fashion, we’ve planned an epic bbq of ginger/garlic/honey glazed ribs, black eyed pea caviar with lotsa chips, and a jug of our infamous bourbon punch. We’ve got the classics too: fruits and a yogurt dip, sodas and juices for mixing, beer for the boys, and finger sandwiches for snacking! Go Tarheels!!

    September 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm
  32. Kay

    Typical cooler stash includes: Beer, Honest Kids juice packs, guacamole, multiple variations of salsa, fresh fruit, and some cheese. This stash works for just about any type of event!

    September 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm
  33. Diane Stokes

    Lots of fresh fruits, water/soda/juice, sandwich condiments, cheese, and dips for a family road-trip to our favorite mountain campsite.

    September 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm

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