Cooler for the Car
I find that a lot of deputation is trial and error. Such was the case in searching for the right cooler. It took us a good four months of deputation to find the right fit. Below, I’ll go over the different things we tried and what worked for us. I have also included the items we keep on hand for lunch prep.
Mini Fridge: We tried finding some sort of mini fridge for our car. We spent several months researching but couldn’t find anything that would work as a long-term solution. My husband was concerned that it would put too much stress on our car’s battery and alternator and eventually cause them to fail. I’m very thankful he had the foresight to think of this. There are plenty of “car mini fridge” options but, all the ones we saw would not be compatible with long term use.
Insulated Cooler: Our next thought was an insulated cooler. We thought we would be traveling a lot more during the week and we didn’t want to lug a cooler in and out of hotels and prophet’s chambers, having to constantly load everything into a fridge just to reload everything back into the cooler the next day. We were looking for something that could hold food for 3-5 days and stay in the car in between stops. We found a decent size one at Sam’s Club. It was expensive and it took up a quarter of our trunk space, but we thought the investment would pay off.
We used that cooler for about 3 months, but we quickly realized that the space it took up was too valuable to sacrifice and the cooler wasn’t as helpful as we thought it’d be. We stored it in our storage unit until the following summer when we went west for a few months. With everything out west being so spaced apart, it behooved us to camp most of the summer. The larger, insulated cooler was helpful during this time. Especially because restaurants were scarce.
My final thoughts on this cooler are that if you’re traveling a lot, it is a worthy investment as it acts as a small fridge. However, when you’re only traveling once or twice a week between meetings, it’s more cumbersome and inconvenient to have.
Cooler bag: After retiring our large insulated cooler, we tried a $10 cooler bag from Walmart. We quickly realized we would have the same problem as the previous cooler. Having a cooler that’s too big means that food is not easily accessible because it gets lost in the shuffle. As a result, food goes bad and is wasted.
I think my mistake was my thought process. I had in mind that keeping condiments and the like on hand would save us money. The reality is that we only needed something to hold a day’s worth of food… Maybe a small bottle of mayo, cheese, lunch meat, maybe some fruit… Not a week’s worth of food prep, just a day’s worth. This would require more immediate planning, taking each travel day as it came, rather than having food on hand per the American standard.
Lunch Bag: So, with a sigh of relief, I finally found what works for us; a lunch bag. It’s large enough to hold a day’s worth of food for the three of us, plus ice packs and additional supplies. One thing I’m learning on deputation is that less is more convenient.
So, what’s in our cooler bag?
· 3 small plates. I bought these at Target for less than a dollar each. Again, I tried regular size plastic plates before, but they were too big and, honestly, kind of ugly. I like these because they have a lip on them which helps to hold in food and liquids. They also fit in our cooler bag perfectly and they’re great for using in hotel microwaves.
· Seasonings: Garlic and herb mix, salt and pepper.
· Glass Pyrex dish. It holds leftovers when needed and when it's not, it acts as an organizer in the cooler. I chose one that can go in the microwave or oven and has a leak-proof seal.
A pouch to hold the following:
· Cutlery. 3 forks, 3 spoons, and 3 knives. All metal and reusable. I mainly use these in hotels and wash them there.
· Some disposable utensils. These I use for road trips, so I don’t have dirty dishes in the car.
Though they don’t fit in the cooler bag, somewhere in the car I try to have some disposable plates on hand. Not too many, because of clutter, but they’re useful for actual road trips while the plastic plates are good for hotels and prophet’s chambers.
I pray this article is a blessing. I know some of these things wont work for everyone but I hope our experience can be a help.