We're almost at the end of Summer, so if you haven't packed a scrumptious snack and headed to a movie in the park, outdoor concert, or nearby beach, gather up your family and friends, grab your favorite portable picks , shove them in a cooler, and head out! Actually, on second thought, don't just shove them in a cooler. There's a right way to do it. Find out how when you keep reading.
Source: Flickr user Rubbermaid Products ; front page image source: Flickr user ºFlorian 
Clean your cooler before using it.
It goes without saying, but if you're going to eat food that comes out of your cooler, make sure it's clean before you use it! Wash the interior thoroughly with water and either soap or baking soda solution; rinse well.
Prechill your cooler items.
You'll be even happier with how well everything keeps when you've prechilled your food before you pack it for a picnic.
Cover contents with ice.
For best results, cover your (hopefully prechilled) items with ice packs. Be even more eco-friendly by opting for reusable ice packs.
Pack items in the order that you plan to use them.
To preserve any cooler chill, you're best off packing items in the order that you plan to use them. For instance, if you're having ice cream for dessert, be sure to put that in first and take it out last!
If possible, pack block ice in your cooler.
When it comes to staying cool in warmer climes, the larger the block of ice, the better the cold retention.
Remember that a cooler does best out of the sun.
A cooler's no different from you; on a blindingly hot day, it fares much better in the shade.
Ensure the cooler's closed whenever possible.
Keep heat out by closing the ice chest when it's not in use. In a pinch, it makes a great lawn or beach chair.
Use that drain plug.
Sure, the drain plug is a great way to serve punch to a crowd — but even if you're not doing so, be sure to keep the drain plug open when possible to avoid mold growth, which can occur if your cooler isn't properly ventilated.
Coolers don't belong in freezing temperatures.
Never put an ice chest in the freezer or outside in freezing conditions; the lower temperatures could crack the insulation, destroying your cooler.
Don't forget: A cooler can keep things warm, too!
To keep items warm, heat a brick in the oven, wrap with a dishtowel, and place in the bottom of your cooler. The heat will last most of the day.