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I would like to buy a few meals from a restaurant that would then later be reheated.

What would be the best way to safely transport pasta for 10+ hours while maintaining freshness and quality?

I was going to ask the restaurant to make it and freeze it. Then we were hoping a cold bag (as purchased at Sam's Club) would keep it sufficiently cold. Are there better (practical) options or is this endeavor ill-advised or unsafe?

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Pasta does not freeze very well, so I would advise against asking the restaurant to freeze it. I would ask that they provide the sauce in one container, and the (uncooked) pasta in another. Those two will keep just fine in a cold box with ice for ~10 hours. If you're very concerned about food safety, you can keep a thermometer in the cold box and make sure it doesn't exceed fridge temperature. If the temperature starts to increase (unlikely in 10 hours with a decently insulated cold box) the car can stop for more ice. On arrival, you boil the pasta according to instructions (it's most likely fresh pasta, so it should only be boiled for 2-3 minutes) and gently heat up the sauce in a pan before combining and adding any toppings like cheese.

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It's an amazing present to give, unfortunately you aren't likely to get the result you want. Good Italian food is made from fresh ingredients and eaten fresh, anything cooked and then frozen or refrigerated before being reheated will lose a lot of flavor and texture. Plus, part of the overall experience is going to the restaurant itself, the service and the decor, choosing from a menu, etc. I don't know personally but I've heard that there's a few good Italian restaurants in Pittsburgh, maybe the present would be taking your daughter to one.

If you want to try this it is workable, provided you have the right equipment. You'd need a real cooler, not a cool bag as those don't insulate well enough, and lots of freeze packs. There are coolers with built-in mini-fridges that run off a car's auxiliary power port (cigarette lighter) as well. Both solutions require the food to be refrigerator or freezer temperature when put into the cooler (cooler mini fridges can keep things cool but don't have the power to cool hot food down fast enough), and if you are using freezer packs they would need to be fresh as well to make it 10 hours. This will be a logistical challenge, if your relative is driving from Florida feeezer ice packs will be several hours old before the food is picked up.

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