It's tip time!
I have tried for years to figure out how to keep the food which I want to keep cold out of the water in the bottom of the cooler. I'm sure you have had the same problem. You pack the cooler with your drinks and put your food on the top - lunch meats, fruit, mayonnaise, etc. Over the course of the day, however, the ice begins to melt, and your food drifts down into the water in the cooler.
I cannot tell you how much food I have had to throw away over the years due to my food getting soaked in the ice water. If the hot dogs fall into the water and some of the juice leaks out of the package, you can't eat the pineapple in your Rubbermaid container which has taken on water too. It has cross-contaminated, and it is not worth the food poisoning.
I have tried to use a plastic tray before as a divider to keep the food on the top of the cooler, and the drinks and ice on the bottom. The plastic tray I had was too big for the cooler so I had to put it in at an angle which eventually made all of the food on the tray slide down into the ice by the end of the trip anyway.
Before we left for our trip, I saw an idea on Pinterest which I tried, and it worked! I was thrilled. Here is what you do.
Fill your cooler with your drinks and ice up to halfway in your cooler. Then, put in a cooling rack (which you use to cool cookies or bread) in the cooler. It fit perfectly in my medium sized cooler! If you have a larger sized cooler, try two cooling rack with one on the left and one on the right.
Then, on top of the cooling rack(s), place your food items such as fruit, condiments, lunch meats, etc. The ice would still melt and make water, but the food always stayed on the rack and ice cold too. We refilled our ice every day on the trip, and I was able to come home and put all the food back in the refrigerator. That was a good feeling.
The rack served another useful purpose as well. When we stopped to have lunch, we just reached into the cooler and pulled the rack out with the food on top. You can stand the rack up (my rack has a stand) on the table to serve the food. You then have easy access to your drinks in the cooler and all your food is on the table. It was very handy.
If I am ever going to pack drinks and food in a cooler from now on, this is what I am going to do. It worked so well. I would highly encourage you to try it. We were very happy campers (pun intended).