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12 Essential Tips that Make Traveling with Food So Much Easier

Keep your potluck dishes safe and sound with these genius tips for traveling with food.

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You’ve cooked your heart out and made something amazing for the potluck—but here comes the tricky part that no one ever talks about: how to get the food (safely!) there. We’ve compiled some of our time-tested tips for traveling with food. They’re perfect to use after making any of our top-rated potluck recipes.

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Slow cooker with bungee cord tied on for safe traveling.Taste of Home

Secure Your Slow Cooker

Nervous to place that steamy slow-cooker chili in the passenger seat? We were, too, until we found this genius trick to keeping the lid on tight: Grab a small bungee cord, hook each end onto the slow cooker’s side handles and then wrap it around (or thread it through) the lid’s top handle. Give it a wiggle to be sure it is good to go. Grab yourself a bungee cord to keep handy in the kitchen.

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Man lining the trunk of a car with shelf linersTaste of Home

Line the Trunk

Collect your yoga mats or extra drawer liners before you place any dishes in your car. Line a trunk, or back seat, with these no-slip materials to keep food from slipping and sliding when you hit the interstate. You can trust your most elaborate layer cakes on this simple setup—but we get if you want to stick them on a friend’s lap in the front seat.

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DIY carrier for multiple casserole dishesTaste of Home

Build a Double-Decker Carrier

Bringing multiple goodies to the party? Go you! Here’s a great way to transport them all at once. Grab your cooling rack and a storage bin that’s slightly larger in size. Place one of your dishes on the bottom of the bin, set the cooling rack on top, then set another dish on top. Now you can make a double batch of one of our favorite 13×9 dessert recipes.

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DIY salad kit for make-and-take potlucksTaste of Home

Make a To-Go Salad Kit

Here’s how to make a quick, travel-friendly salad, hassle-free: Prep all of your ingredients separately in reusable containers (we love these silicone storage bags from Stashable) and place them in a large serving bowl along with a bag of greens, a bottle of dressing and your serving tools. When you’ve reached your destination, simply toss everything together and serve.

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Close-up three tasty oatmeal cookies laying at the green checkered textile kitchen towel at wooden surface of bakery, cafe or kitchen table in the morning during the breakfest in cozy atmosphereParfenteva Tatiana/Shutterstock

Keep Cookies in Place


Cookies (like these quick, chewy maple cookies) are notorious for sliding off plates. Luckily, there’s a simple fix. Line the plate with a pretty kitchen towel or napkin and place your baked goods on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and your cookies won’t budge!

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Use a dab of frosting to keep a cake in placeTaste of Home

Prevent Cakes from Sliding

Before assembling the cake, place a dab of frosting in the middle of the cake plate—as well as on the cake board, if you are using one. The frosting acts as a glue to prevent the cake from slipping as you decorate, as well as staying put in the car. Psst! Here’s how to frost a cake the easy and elegant way.

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Fresh cupcakes are on a black pan on the table, cookie sheet, cupcakeBeliakina Ekaterina/Shutterstock

Utilize Your Baking Sheets


Disposable foil pans are super useful, but they are prone to caving in under heavy bakes. (Case in point: This hefty lasagna recipe.) Instead of risking it, slide a baking sheet underneath for extra support.

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Stack of newspapers on tablesirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Insulate with Yesterday’s Headlines


News flash: Newspaper makes a great insulator. Next time you need to keep something cold, line a cooler with your weekly paper and tuck it around and over your dish. This tip works great for cool, crisp dishes like this colorful spiral pasta salad.

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Reusable plastic container in the larder; Shutterstock ID 114016396patpitchaya/Shutterstock

Reuse Containers


Give tubs, like ones for sour cream, butter, yogurt or salad mix, an extra life! Rinse out used plastic containers and keep them on hand for future side dish duty. Up next: These 15-minute sides will save your sanity.

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masking tape on kitchen counterShutterstock / VH-studio

Tape Down Lids

Use painter’s tape to keep lids in place. Don’t worry, the tape won’t leave a residue—so there won’t be any marks on Grandma’s vintage baking dish. When you arrive to the party, simply peel it off and serve up!

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cake decorating suppliesReader's Digest

Bring Tools On the Go

Worried about transporting your niece’s birthday cake in the backseat? We’ve all been there. Make it a little easier on yourself by throwing your cake decorating tools in an emergency cake tool kit. Fix up smudges or add the final details once you arrive.

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Homemade sauce in jarThe Picture Pantry/Getty Images

Transport Homemade Sauces and Soups Safely

No more sloshing soups and sauces. Pour homemade liquids in a soup canister, mason jar or in a large water bottle and place in your cupholder for the ride over. If your canister is too large for your cupholder, invest in a cupholder expander.

Carolyn Lewis
Carolyn Lewis is a young writer & digital media professional who grew up in Milwaukee. She loves to read graphic novels, write poetry about nature and cook Thai food while listening to podcasts. She has always been a storyteller and animal lover, thus, she has a hamster named Hamlet.