My husband is a long haul trucker who normally uses an electric cooler to keep his food and drinks cold. Recently his electric cooler died on him, so he had to resort to a regular cooler until we can buy him a new one (they ain't cheap!). At first he was buying bags of ice once or twice a day, but it was melting awfully fast in the extremely hot heat we've been having. So we came up with an idea that is working out a lot better for him.
Before he comes home, I take a tall plastic container (I use a tall Lock and Lock container because the ice slides out real easy). I fill it up about 7/8 with water and freeze it. Just before he packs the cooler, we take the ice out of the container and set it in the bottom of the cooler, He packs all his things around it. Then we dump some ice cubes on top into any empty spaces. The smaller cubes melt at normal rate, but the large block of ice can last for two days or more! He has saved quite a chunk of money this way.
This same idea would work great on picnics or traveling. If you don't want the ice melting and getting all over everything, just leave it in the container and the container will hold the water. Lock & Lock containers are great at not leaking. But there are other brands too.
Freezing the ice in these large containers also solves another problem here at home. It takes up unused space in the freezer, which makes the freezer run more efficiently. I freeze the one container for him, and keep two liter coke bottles in there filled with water too.
By Cricket from Parkton, NC
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Don't know what to do with all those empty plastic gallon jugs? My husband likes to fish and hunt, so instead of buying bags of ice we fill up the jugs with water, freeze, then bust them up for free ice for his cooler! I love fresh fish, yum!
By Tessa Power from Freeport, FL
I thought this was such a great idea, I just sent it to my son. He fishes and hunts. (09/19/2009)
You know, this really is a good idea. I knew about filling and freezing the jugs, but breaking open the ice jugs and chopping up the ices is so much better. Thank you. (06/26/2010)
We've been doing this for years, but we do not break up the ice, Just leave it as is, frozen in the jugs, and when it melts some, you have wonderful clean ice-water as well as all the ice you can use.
We always use this method when camping also. It's the best trick in the book as far as we're concerned. It is amazing how long the gallon jugs of ice last. Much longer than breaking up the ice too.
Going to the beach or an outdoor function and need ice? Empty your ice bin once a week and store in plastic bags in your deep freezer. When it's time to fill your ice chest, you already have plenty of ice and no need to go and pay for high dollar small bags of ice. Use your empty 20 oz soda and water bottles as ice cubes, fill them with water and freeze and add to your cooler and they keep your good "usable" ice from melting as fast.
By Sharon from Florida
I save our plastic juice bottles and freeze water in them to use in our ice chest. We live a considerable distance from the grocery store and this saves having to rush home or having things melt or get hot. They can be reused many times before the begin to leak. (07/13/2009)
Living with Texas summers, we find ourselves using tons of ice and instead of getting expensive bags of ice, we fill up 2L cola bottles 3/4 full with water and freeze. We then use these in the cooler instead of ice and as they melt the kids love using the cold water for splashing each other or drinking. It has really worked great for us and actually lasts longer than the bagged ice did.
Michelle, you are so right about this! It's great isn't it?
We keep several of these in our freezer during hurricane season so that it will keep our freezer safer during power failure. Ice is very hard to come by after a hurricane!
Also, it's great to drop one or two of these into the bathtub with a feverish child. That way you can start with the water slightly warmer than tepid and cool it down more once the child is in the water. They don't fight the cool bath so badly if you do it that way.
These are also great to use when you go fishing to keep your fish nice and cool until you return home. (07/22/2004)