Your car can be a “danger zone” for food

If you do happen to leave food in your car, then it’s important to understand the basics of food safety. According to the USDA, leaving food out of a refrigerator for an extended period of time can cause to it be in the “danger zone” range of temperatures, which is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In that range, bacteria can grow exponentially, “even doubling in as little as 20 minutes.” Ideally, you would want to keep hot food at or above 140 degrees and cold food at or below 40 degrees.

PORTLAND, ME – JUNE 2: Road-trip Salted Dark
PORTLAND, ME – JUNE 2: Road-trip Salted Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Popcorn in a Prius Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)



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Photo courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

Homemade veggie chips are a great healthy alternative to potato chips, and if you make a big batch you can keep them around for on-the-go snacking. Use a mandolin to make thin, uniform vegetable slices, and you can try anything from rutabagas to parsnips, carrots, and beets.Photo and recipe from A Beautiful Mess


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Photo courtesy of Leite’s Culinaria

These homemade cheese crackers are so good you’ll wonder why you ever ate Cheez-Its or Goldfish on the road instead. You can substitute whole grain or spelt flour to make them even more nutritious, and onion powder adds some nice seasoning alongside the grated sharp cheddar.Photo and recipe from Leite’s Culinaria

Chips chips chips

Wild California Apricot and Ginger snaps
Wild California Apricot and Ginger snaps

Wild California uses an intense ginger flavor meshed with the sweetness of apricot and nuts creating a chip that snaps into chewy goodness.

The Daily Crave Lentil and Veggie chips
The Daily Crave Lentil and Veggie chips

Breaking news brought out some new and old favorites. Vegan Lentil chips with pink Himalayan salt or aged white cheddar. Both are kosher with no sugar added.

For a gluten-free vegan chip try the veggie chips. You can taste the vegetable on the chip.

More extreme are the vegan raw, gluten-free frozen fruit chips. Our favorite was the strawberry by Natierra. We all thought the mango would taste better if they were ruffled and ridged with a little sea salt on them. A great secondary idea would be to save them for the winter and use them in smoothies. A mango smoothie in the winter is a little ray of sunshine in your day.

vegan raw gluten-free frozen fruit chips
vegan raw gluten-free frozen fruit chips

John Wm. Macy’s combines crunch and flavor. The favorite by far was the Asiago Cheddar. What makes these little crackers special is they are sourdough. Who doesn’t love sourdough and cheese and red wine…the cheddar rosemary came in second. The chipotle and cheddar sourdough was good, but we should have had some chili with them.

Vacaville fruits and nuts have been around since 1960 and have gotten their dried fruit down to a science. Wholesome and good for you, they can also create gift baskets of goodies. Contact them at or 800-752-2535.

Vacaville fruits
Vacaville fruits

How should food be stored in your car?

If you want to properly store food in your car for a longer period of time, like when you go on a road trip, then you might want to invest in a cooler and ice packs for cold food and possibly even a food warmer for the hot food. Even portable snacks like beef jerky, energy bars, and even nuts should be stored in a cooler as well.

As you can imagine, more perishable foods like fruits and vegetables can get into the “danger zone” quickly, but trying to cool them off with your car’s air conditioning is not a good idea since the air coming out of the vents is not as cold as a genuine cooler or freezer.

A worker hands food to a customer in a car at a Bu
A worker hands food to a customer in a car at a Burger King restaurant. | (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

RELATED: 7 Vehicles That Would Make Fantastic Food Trucks

Combination Warmers And Coolers

Think of these devices similarly to electronic lunchboxes. They will keep cold things cold or hot items warm but don’t have the ability to heat or cool to much efficiency themselves. So if you have a hot meal that you can heat up before you leave and want to eat several hours later, you can use one of these warmers to maintain the temperature of your food until you are ready to eat it. 

Warmers For Purchase

Check Out Current Prices Here

Check Out Current Prices Here

Helpful Videos 

Check out this YouTube video that utilizes an electric lunch box that you can use on the go! Check out the link to purchase this exact lunch box directly after the video

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Stay awake while driving

Marich Chocolate covered espresso beans
Marich Chocolate covered espresso beans

We’ve mentioned foods that you can eat that we think will keep you awake, mainly because they are shockingly hot or sweet.

Besides eating chocolate-covered espresso beans, you can bring tea or coffee in the car. Heck, some vehicles have ten cup holders just for that purpose!

Boyd’s coffee from Portland Oregon french no
Boyd’s coffee from Portland Oregon french no 6 Kimbo’s espresso Italian

You have to love a bag of Boyd’s coffee from Portland Oregon. The French no 6 was a medium blend with a subtle aroma.

For brashness go straight to Kimbo Espresso Italiano. Rich, full-bodied, it smells like it tastes.

If you’re a tea drinker, you expect a box of tea with flowers and pretty colors. Builders look more like a strong coffee box, but it is a strong black cuppa tea that delights the real tea drinker.

Top foods – masala, cardamom, and a latte te
Top foods – masala, cardamom, and a latte tea India

A tea surprise was tea India. These teas are flavored with masala, cardamom, and a latte that can be thrown in your glove compartment. The crazy good taste I am told they taste as good as a chai tea latte made at your favorite coffee shop.

A sustainable artisanal tea is the African Chai, from Justea. As Stretch noted, it’s not the sugary sweet Chai, a more delicate chai taste.

If you’re interested in a drink, just quench your thirst try some of Lori’s original lemonade – get it – LOL! Started as a lemonade stand with Lori’s children this mom has created lemonade with a hint of lavender, ginger, or lemongrass in a plastic or glass container.

Lori’s original lemonade
Lori’s original lemonade

Food safety in cars with and without air conditioning

Even though it might seem common practice to leave food out in the car, it’s something that should be discouraged. Wright says that foods can reach the “danger zone” for bacterial growth quickly in unairconditioned cars. “Perishable foods like dairy and salads containing mayonnaise are especially dangerous and should be avoided. The opposite is true for hot foods in an air-conditioned car. Meat can be especially dangerous so should be avoided.”

Food safety applies to all foods, regardless of whether it’s fresh or frozen. Air conditioning doesn’t preserve or keep food cool, either. “Even if the air conditioning in a vehicle is working perfectly, the temperature of the air coming out of the vents usually is above freezing so frozen food should not be left in the vehicle for long with the AC on,” says Burkhauser. Burkhauser adds that drivers should be careful of sunlight entering the car since it can warm up anything in its light.

A car’s temperature

You might be surprised at how hot an unairconditioned car can get in some parts of the country throughout the year. “During the summer months, the interior of a closed-up vehicle can easily reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit here on the east coast,” John Burkhauser, an auto repair specialist and director of educational programs at Bolt On Technology, tells Reader’s Digest. “In other sections of the country where the ambient temperature gets as high as 115 degrees, the interior temperature can go even higher.”

That means your food is going to get really hot, really fast. “In reality, no foods should be exposed to these temperatures for long because the food itself is not only the problem, the container or wrapping of the food usually is not designed to withstand these temperatures and may also interact with the food,” explains Burkhauser. This also explains why plastic water bottles have expiration dates.

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