Best Ways to Transport Food to Your Next Potluck


It’s still summer! That means that a potluck is probably still in your immediate future. If so, you may be concerned about how to transport food to reunions or other social gatherings and keep them safe for everyone to eat. Try these ideas when sharing food with a large group.

Keeping Foods Cold means keeping them at or below 40 °F

  • Use the foods you serve to help keep the food safe. Add frozen peas in a green salad. Make the salad as you normally would but don’t allow the peas to thaw first. If you will not be eating for a while, the frozen peas will thaw and keep your salad cold until it is time to eat.
  • Pre-cool the cooler before you begin packing it. Add a plastic bag with ice to the cooler and leave it closed for a while. Once you are ready to pack the cooler, think about what you will need first. Set items in the cooler in the opposite order of what you expect to need them. Items you need first will be taken out and the remaining items left in the cooler until later.
  • Place ice packs or smaller bags of ice in the bottom of the cooler before adding food. Then add the food or pre-cooled drinks into the cooler. After the food is in the cooler, place more ice on top before closing the cooler for transport.
  • Don’t transport the cooler in the trunk. It would be much better to keep it in the backseat so the air conditioning in the car will help the items in the cooler remain cool. You may even want to insulate the cooler by placing a blanket around it.
  • Fill the cooler as full as possible to help it remain cold longer. As long as the cold foods remain cold – those which have mayonnaise or dairy products – they should be safe for your family and friends to eat.

Keeping Foods Hot means keeping hot food at or above 140 °F

  • Use a casserole dish with a carrying case. The case will probably have items to keep foods cold or warm. Remember to heat up the hot pack and place it in the carrying case right before you leave to provide as much heat as possible against the casserole dish.
  • Use an insulated cooler to keep food items warm as well as cold items cool. Wrap the warmed dishes with towels or newspaper to help insulate and keep the dishes warm. Pack the dishes as tightly as possible so the heat from one dish will help the others remain warm, as well.

You will enjoy your family get-together or reunion more knowing that the food you have prepared is safe to eat. Knowing how to keep foods hot or cold while transporting them will maintain their safety.