There's so much to love about summer... except how those warm temperatures quickly melt all our favorite cold foods. Hot summer days always start with the best intentions: You whip the Cool Whip, chop the melons, and mix the berries. You even find the "perfect" spot for them on the shaded end of your picnic table. It doesn't matter, though. Within an hour, everything is melted or mushy. You love cool, sweet fruit in the summer! But not when it's been baked in the oppressive summer sun. How do you keep your favorite cold treats cold? Luckily, there's a super easy and super cheap (aka free) hack, courtesy of the good people of Instagram.
As Insta personality Shannon (@athomewith.shannon) shows all her followers, you really only need a few "disposable" foil casserole pans, some water, and your freezer. She simply fills one pan with an inch or two of water and sets it flat in the freezer to harden. When it's time to serve the cold foods, they're put in another casserole pan (or two) and set atop the ice in pan No. 1.
If you’ve ever been to a salad bar, you know that this is pretty much the essence of how these work — except you don’t have to empty your ice bin to make it happen. And as a bonus, the larger piece of ice will take longer to melt. You could even sprinkle in rock salt when freezing, which lowers the freezing point and helps it keep from melting longer. (Please don’t ask about salt on icy roads. It’s confusing science.)
While Shannon uses a large pan under two small ones, there’s really no limit to how you set this up. You could easily put two same-sized pans together with the sheet of ice between them. These pans are supposed to be somewhat disposable since, if you bake a casserole in them, they’ll get super gross, making it tempting to toss them. But there’s no reason you must discard after use. You could reuse the same few pans all summer to keep your cool snacks cool on the picnic table. Go wild; make them your designated summer fruit cooling pans.
Need more cool summer hacks?
There's more than one way to stay cool and keep your food and drinks cold while enjoying them in the summer heat. Next time you have your mind set on playing or eating in the great (hot) outdoors, try these hacks, too.
- Freeze half your water bottles and use as ice packs
- Avoid watered-down drinks by freezing some of your beverage in ice cube trays and using them to ice your drink.
- Freeze your grapes. Whether you add them to fruit salad or eat them on your own, frozen grapes are just so much better than regular grapes.
- Frozen citrus will keep things cold in your cooler. Once they thaw, they're still cold for a while and make the perfect post-picnic snack. Save them for a ride home from the beach.
- Bring or find shade. You're already bringing a ton of stuff to the beach or park, right? True, a mom will never get to enjoy a summer outing at the same level as her kiddo, but making sure to bring a pop-up tent or some clamping umbrellas will go a long way to keeping you — and your food — from going into meltdown mode.
- Keep your sunscreen in the cooler. It'll feel good going on! Plus, if it's where you have to reach to get to the snacks, it'll remind you to reapply when you see it.
- Get in the water. This goes for you and your food. If you're swimming in a pool, lake, or calm ocean, look for hacks to keep your cooler floating. The water is always cooler than the air.