Travel Tip: Cooler without the mess

We drove across to Boulder, Colorado recently. Yep! All of 1011 miles through temperatures as high as 104F in Iowa and Nebraska. A no-mess cooler made the trip really pleasant. The trick is to freeze water in strong plastic bottles and use that as the cooling agent. Fiji Water not only tastes great, but comes in just the kind of plastic bottles you need - the plastic smell of the bottles does not transfer to the water.

I found Fiji Water at Trader Joe's. Since I did a test-drive with these on our Branson trip, I only had 6 bottles with the original Fiji Water in them. I really didn't mind cos I filled the rest with Chicago water - just about the best tasting water in the country. And as the ice melted, we had a supply of chilled water that tasted great, no mess in the cooler and the cooler was a lot lighter and easier to handle. Because there was no water directly in the cooler itself, we could carry food in the cooler without having to wrap it in air-tight or water-proof containers. Which worked out very well for us Indian Food Junkies!

We had delicious left-overs from a dinner at an Indian restaurant in Lincoln, Nebraska which served as lunch the next day. Yum! There we were in the first rest area in Colorado, along I-80, eating cold saag paneer and navratan korma. It was 102F so the cold food was a real treat!

cooler
That's my cooler! I also discovered that 12 oz Gatorade bottles freeze very well. As do Caprisun pouches. Fiji water bottles are expensive - they cost over $6 for a six-pack of 500 ml bottles. A carton of 10 Caprisun pouches costs much less ($2.50) so it might make sense to buy 2 or 3 Caprisun packs, freeze them and carry drinking water in regular water bottles. Needless to say, I'm saving all my Fiji water bottles for future trips.

9 comments:

gini said...

To keep leftover food in the cooler and use it the next day for lunch..how cool is that!

Manisha said...

Hey gini! I made sure that the room we stayed in had a refrigerator. I froze the bottles all over again and chilled the food overnight. What was great was that despite the heat, it didn't spoil.

I found out that most motels will give you a room with a refrigerator and microwave at no additional cost but you do have to ask.

AF said...

great tip

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just happened upon your blog. I live in Kochi, Kerala. And am currently browsing through food blogs, especially on indian ones. I read one of your first ones, Why Men Don't Cook.
I'd like to add something - ... but, mine COOKS ! In fact all men in my life have cooked, much better than their women. Including my father, my brother (cousin), my cousins' hubbies, and at last, not least, my hubby !
Well, it has its own pitfalls, 'coz, finally you lose out even the kitchen to the men ! They call the shots even there.
But truly, I don't mind. To eat food cooked by others, that too avowed foodies, is simply great !
Renu.

Manisha said...

Hi Renu, you are so lucky!

According to my husband, it's my fault that he doesn't cook. He says that it's because I am a much better cook than he. He insists that he would rather expend his energies elsewhere. Right! He made a New Year's resolution to learn how to cook. He was very careful how he phrased it - with an emphasis on learn! From time to time, he makes this huge pretense of standing by me and asking me how much jeera I added or which spice I used. He cooked an entire meal for 16 of our friends in Feb. After that at best, he makes tea or will make scrambled eggs for our daughter. And on Sundays, the two of them make pancakes for breakfast.

He rewired the basement last week and made it so much brighter by adding white light that I have learned to stop complaining! He does load the dishwasher though!

Enjoy being catered to, you lucky girl!

Mose said...

Greetings! I was turned on to Indian food during a trip to Hong Kong while in High School and have been hooked ever since. Fortunately we now have a great Indian restaraunt in Grand Rapids... In fact, they have a dish, Merg Methi, that rates as my all-time favorite thing in the world to eat. I've been scouring the net looking for the recipe but have had no luck... Any ideas?

Manisha said...

Hey Mose! Welcome!

It's Murg methi and you're right, it's delicious! (Sometimes murg is spelled with an h at the end: murgh. It's what you get when you have a phonetic alphabet that is then transcribed into English!)

If you have an Indian store near you, you can buy fresh methi (make sure the leaves are not wilted and look perky) or you can buy frozen methi. I make murg methi with fresh or frozen spinach, although there are a lot of recipes that call for the dried variety of methi called kasuri methi.

My murg methi is very different from the one you get in the restaurants: it's low on fat and has a lot of fresh methi...because we love the taste of methi.

David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Manisha said...

David, please go away.