How to Keep Drinks Cold Without a Cooler

Have to keep soda, beer, or other picnic items cold and you don’t have a cooler? Here are some ways you can still keep everything as cool as possible without needing a real cooler!

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
2-minute read

DIY Ice Packs

If you have time, fill the strongest resealable plastic bags you have with water and lay flat in your freezer to make ice packs. Or, use leftover shampoo bottles for awesome ice packs that last even longer.

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How to Make a Homemade Cooler

Even if you don’t have a cooler, you can keep your food cold with this trick: Store your food containers in the refrigerator for a few hours so they’re sufficiently chilled before you need them. Use a few sheets of newspaper to line the inside of a container that you can seal shut, like a duffel bag or secure picnic basket—the paper will trap in the cold and keep out the heat. Place the chilled containers into your lined bag or basket, layering more sheets of newspaper on top of each container. If you have ice packs, wrap them in towels and place around your items.

Easy DIY Coolers for Parties

If you’re keeping drinks cool at a party, finding a makeshift cooler is even easier. Use a large flower pot, a toy wagon, a kiddie pool—or even this easy-to-make floating cooler that uses Tupperware and a pool noodle. If you’re using something on the small side, keep a stock of cold beverages out of sight in your washing machine. Yes, the washing machine! The lid will keep the cold in, and once the ice melts you can simply run the rinse cycle to get rid of the all the water.

Keep Food Cold Without a Cooler

To keep food like salads or burger patties cool while transporting them to your picnic or party, stick a cast-iron pot into the freezer for one hour—the metal will get ice-cold. Then place the food in plastic bags and keep inside the pot until you get to your destination. The cast iron is heavy, but will keep your food cool for up to two hours while you’re in the car.

How to Keep Wine and Beer Cool

If you don’t have a cooler, sometimes the best option is to stock up on ice! But what about for wine and beer, which don’t taste so great watered down? For wine, we suggest using frozen grapes. Just place some (washed) grapes in the freezer for a few hours, and they make the perfect ice cube substitutions that won’t dilute or change the taste of your wine as they thaw. As for beer, pour it into a pitcher, then place a bunch of ice into a plastic cup and float the cup inside the pitcher to cool it down.

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About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.