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Old 08-06-2014, 09:14 AM   #1
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Keeping food cold without ice or gel packs

This has been my dilemma since airlines will not let you take liquids with you as you fly. With such tight connections these days, and many airlines that don't even Offer you to pay ridiculous amounts of money for awful food...many times we've ended up not being able to eat for many hours when we travel

So, I would like an option to bring my own sandwich and cheese, etc. from home but need a way to keep it cold in a cooler without ice or frozen gel packs. I tried once to take a super heavy duty sealed small gel ice pack with me - even with super tough plastic I was not allowed to take it and had to pitch my carefully packed gourmet lunch

Last time we flew I froze a banana solid and packed that right before we left the house. That did work to some extent...frozen bananas don't stay frozen all day and liquify to such a mess. It did keep my food cold through almost all day (when we travel to family we leave at 5:00 am and don't arrive until 10:00 pm) but I would LOVE an acceptable alternative to the frozen banana (or I think I used two!)

I did purchase one of those lunchbags that you actually put in the freezer, with the cooling agent inside, though I have no idea if that will pass muster. I am continuing to look for options so if any one has any other ideas I'd appreciate it.


Annoying the cook will result in smaller portions
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:31 AM   #2
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Keeping food cold without ice or gel packs

Airport rules can be such a pain. What about bringing several small empty ziplocks and filling them with ice AFTER you clear security to use as makeshift ice packs. You can keep refilling with ice on the plane. Freeze any ingredients that can be frozen beforehand. Use frozen grapes in a zippy as an ice pack. If your freezable lunchbag contains gel, they might take it away from you unless you put the gel pack in your 3:1:1 bag.

The snacks we bring don't require refrigeration: cheese and crackers, granola bars. We carry them in our backpacks.

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Old 08-06-2014, 09:54 AM   #3
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Actually, it's not the airlines, it's the TSA. They do have a website that explains the rules. 3-1-1 Liquids Rule | Transportation Security Administration . Apparently, you could fill multiple bags with each up to 3.4 oz with clear water as long as they all fit in a quart bag, or do as Dawgluver suggested and get ice after you go thru security. I'd take extra bags with me if you decide to go with ice from home though just in case they do take them away from you.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:01 AM   #4
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I would focus on things that do not require refrigeration.

Cheddar Cheese
Trail Mix
Granola bars
Peanut Butter
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:21 AM   #5
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We face similar issues when we go on vacation in the winter. It's 5:00AM to 3:00PM for us. SO packs dry stuff - peanut butter and jelly crackers six-packs, trail mix, etc. After we go through security at the airport, we eat breakfast and buy sandwiches for the flight. They keep until we eat lunch on the plane.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:40 AM   #6
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Just get ice after you go through security.
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:37 AM   #7
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Cantaloupes and honeydews are just fine after being frozen. Cut melons in half (to make it easy to see that there's nothing nefarious hidden inside) and freeze hard. Assuming you like melon, you have them for cooling and eating. Watermelon works, too, but probably leaves you more wet as it thaws.

Nominally, whole fruits pass TSA just fine, and eaten/cut fruits have to be wrapped. I'm saying cut the melon, simply because, if I were screening, I'd worry about something that size that could be filled with whatever liquid. It will al have to be x-ray scanned anyway. But a cut and seeded melon is plainly just what it appears to be and should pass without a problem, frozen or not.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:42 AM   #8
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Keeping food cold without ice or gel packs

In some countries, you aren't allowed to bring in whole fruit in order to prevent bringing in parasites or diseases. Same with meat. When we fly into a little airport in Mexico, they actually have fruit-sniffing dogs.

You might want to cube the melon and freeze, using like ice cubes.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:12 PM   #9
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Cured meats and hard cheeses are preserved already and are intended to be eaten at room temp and keep fine for hours, probably even days, at room temp. Bring rolls and small packets of condiments like mayo, mustard, etc., then stuff the rolls with some combination of salami, sopressata, bologna, country ham, cheddar, Monterey Jack, mozzarella cheeses, and sliced cucumber, then add nuts, olives, cut fruit, as Aunt Bea suggested. You could use hummus or white bean dip as a sandwich spread instead of condiments.

Not everything needs to be cold when it's for short-term storage. Freshly cooked foods like soups, etc., need to be chilled and reheated, but most whole foods (even if they're cut up, like carrots) don't need to be.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:15 PM   #10
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Keeping food cold without ice or gel packs

^^This. We often take a box of Laughing Cow cheese wedges, they're not even chilled when you buy them, and contain surprisingly few ingredients and preservatives.

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