We’ve all been tasked with the thankless job of securing a casserole dish overflowing with piping-hot buttery potatoes on our laps, over the forest and through the woods to grandmother’s house, all while speeding down the highway at 70 mph.
And how about getting all those leftovers home after your holiday dinner? While Auntie May’s pumpkin pie may seem perfectly pleasant perched atop a lace doily on the dining room table, it can become a dangerous projectile if not secured properly in the car.
Here are a few of my top tips for transporting all of your holiday faves in the car:
Laundry Basket and Bungee Cords: No matter what type of dish you’re traveling with this year, the easiest way to secure it is by using an ordinary laundry basket. Line the bottom of the basket with an old beach towel, place your dish inside, then crisscross bungee cords through the holes of the basket and over the top of your dish to secure it. The entire basket can then be secured in the trunk or cargo space of your car using a few more bungee cords attached to the metal tie-down anchor points. If you happen to have a leak, the towels will soak up any mess. If you don’t have a leak, your kids can roll up the towels after dinner and use them on the way home as pillows to sleep off that tryptophan-induced fog.
Pie Tins, Tinfoil, Baking Sheet: Tinfoil is your best friend while transporting pies. Take an extra metal pie tin, flip it upside down, and use it to tent the pie itself. You can then seal the edges of the two pie tins together with a strip of tinfoil. Place the pie or pies on a baking sheet with a lip and use more tinfoil around the baking sheet’s edges to secure the pies. Store the baking sheet in your trunk with a grippy drawer liner underneath to help keep it from sliding around, or stash it in the bottom of the aforementioned laundry basket.
Going High Tech: If you’re serious about your spuds, you can up the ante with some high-tech food transportation techniques. A travel casserole dish is a great option for transporting piping-hot dishes. I purchased one from Target recently for just $14. It comes with the Pyrex® casserole dish, a secure rubber lid, a microwaveable gel pouch to help keep the goodies hot on the road, and a thermal insulated carrying case.
If you’re traveling with food in the car, slow cookers with locking lids are the only way to go and will help keep any leaks or spills from intruding on your fabric upholstery. I purchased one recently from Amazon for just over $30.
If you’re really serious about keeping your sweet potatoes at the perfect temperature while on the road, a portable 12-volt heater/cooler is the way to go. These puppies plug into the 12-volt outlet right in your car, can be switched to heat rather than cool, and keep your marshmallow-laced potato puree inside at a consistent 140 degrees.
Happy holidays from this foodie mobile mama!Kristin Varela is the senior family editor at Cars.com.