Since we're heading into summer and we'll all be using ice by the bucket full ... I'm going to share my tips/habits and ask you to share yours in the comments, too! :-)
A night or two before a party I'm hosting, I'll fill a large storage container or two with the ice from my ice maker, then let it refill itself...until I have as much as I need for that occasion. Our freezer is rarely packed to the gills, so this works fine for us, but you can also fill plastic bags that can squeeze around your freezer food more easily. Then, I consider what's in the ice maker as my reserve.
COOLERS:One of my pet peeves is the melted ice sloshing around the bottom of a cooler making soggy paper labels peel off the condiments. Although, Grey Poupon and others are now label free. :-) I like to freeze water in the small "disposable" storage containers. This way the melted ice is contained AND can be used as drinking water if needed:
Our cooler used to have a basket that would hold little things above the madness below ... but I couldn't find it before our recent picnic outing ... note to self: check sandbox ... that also helps prevent the mushy labels. I pack condiments because I prefer sandwiches with fresh toppings - what about you? Do you put lettuce and tomato on before you head out, or in a little tupperware to be added right before eating? Wraps travel better and can be made longer ahead...with no bread to get soggy. What are your picnic tips?
TRAVEL/ROAD TRIPS:My thrifty ways balk at $20 beverage receipts at EVERY gas/potty stop on our road trips ... and with the four of us, those stops are frequent. So, a beverage cooler is a convenience AND savings. Plus if our travel destination is the beach, the convenience and savings continue.
I pack mostly plain water, then something extra for each of us: a large juice bottle to refill the kids sippy/straw kid cups (watered down, of course); Perrier & iced coffees for hubby and flavored waters for myself. Plain and flavored waters are perfect for freezing ahead of a trip, too. So, they do double duty as ice in our cooler:
Please share your summer ice tips in the comments!