Why a Cooler Is What You Really Need for Thanksgiving

published Nov 14, 2016
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Coolers can feel like the workhorse of summer, destined for holding our food for camping trips or keeping drinks cold at the beach. But coolers can save your sanity during the holidays, too. A cooler (or two) can do more than just hold Thanksgiving wine and cider — it can also do double duty as either extra fridge space or as a warming drawer for sides and pies while you wait for the turkey to roast. Here are two easy ways to put a cooler to work for a holiday.

1. Use a cooler as extra fridge space.

With a turkey, a ham, two pies, and several side dishes shoved inside, most of our fridges become overstuffed the week of Thanksgiving. Plus you’ve got have some space for everyday eats, too. Coolers, without aid, can keep cold foods cold or hot foods hot just with their insulation. Add a bag of ice and you’ve got even more power in your cooler ability to help you out when you’re short on space.

Here are a few more refrigerator-centric tasks a cooler can do:

  • Brining or thawing your turkey: Line your cooler with a clean trash bag to make cleanup a bit easier and be sure to check the temperature of the brine and the turkey every few hours.
  • As a root cellar: Keep produce like carrots, celery, and onions organized in your cooler. Herbs and other hearty vegetables can be stored in the cooler as well.
  • Bar or beverage storage: Store drinks, broth, or whipping cream in a cooler along with a bag of ice to save room in the fridge.

2. Use a cooler to keep food warm.

On Thanksgiving day, create a small “hot box” to keep casseroles and side dishes warm by lining the bottom of a cooler with a heating pad set to low. This clears up counter clutter and gives Aunt Mable a place to put her prized dressing while the turkey occupies the oven.

Got another cool cooler trick for the holidays? Tell us!