Travel, camping and power outages are a few of the occasions where you may need to keep food frozen without the use of a freezer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has outlined the proper way to package and store frozen food for consumer health. Utilizing foam containers, dry ice and coolers will help keep food frozen in any situation.

Things You'll Need

Keep Food Frozen When Camping

Fill gallon size freezer bags with four to six cups of ice cubes. If possible, use crushed ice for better results.

Place two or three bags of ice in the bottom of a large traditional cooler. Place meats on the bottom because they will stay frozen the longest. After each layer of frozen food, place two or three more bags of ice. Continue until the cooler is full.

Pack a secondary cooler with spare bags of ice. Ice bags will keep each other frozen longer than frozen foods which absorb the cold air from the ice wrapped around them. This method will keep food frozen for six to eight hours, depending on the outside temperature, before the ice bags will need to be replaced to prevent food from thawing and spoiling or melting.

Keep Food Frozen During a Power Outage or Shipment

Wet dry ice sheets until they are ½-inch thick. The longer these are frozen, the longer they will stay frozen. It is best to have these on hand in event of an emergency. Dry ice sheets are reusable, non-toxic and offer better cooling while taking up less space than dry ice blocks.

Line a foam cooler with dry ice sheets.

Pack frozen food into the foam cooler while placing dry ice sheets between each layer of food. Five pounds of dry ice will keep 10 to 15 pounds of food frozen for six days. Government regulations prevent any products or materials from being shipped via UPS, FedEx or USPS that contain more than five pounds of dry ice for health reasons.


  • Plan in advance for camping trips to find gas stations or stores that sell ice to help re-ice frozen food.

  • When shipping frozen food, be sure it is packaged with FDA approved materials for consumer safety.

  • During a power outage, pack frozen food in a foam cooler and place back in refrigerator or freezer. Both act as insulators which will help keep the food frozen.