8 Genius Tips for Bringing Food to the Beach
Who's ready for some fun in the sun?
Nothing ruins a beach picnic faster than sand, so you’ll want to take special precautions to ensure your spread stays clean. Try to elevate your meal by constructing a makeshift table by stacking sturdy cardboard or wood on top of your cooler. Or at the very least, place your picnic on a separate towel in the middle of your beach blanket (we like this one). And, when the kids come running over for mealtime, ensure that they thoroughly brush off sand and wash their hands (hello, hand sanitizing wipes!).
Keep It Cool
The biggest challenge you’ll face on beach day? Keeping everything cold. We suggest freezing water bottles in advance of the big day, then using ’em as supplementary ice packs. Once the bottles melt, you’ll have cool, fresh drinking water! Also, pay attention to what you pack. Try to avoid foods prone to spoiling or melting, like mayo-based salads, sushi and ice cream. Instead, reach for these recipes that are perfect for a day on the beach.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Whether you’re chasing your kids through the surf, playing a pro-level game of beach volleyball or simply basking in the sun, get ready to sweat it out. To stay properly hydrated, make sure to pack a ton of water, plus hydrating foods like watermelon. And, if you’re planning to imbibe, don’t forget that alcohol actually dehydrates you, so switch back to H20 after every drink. If you’re wondering, these are the best and worst hydrating drinks.
Play by the Rules
Don’t be the guy who lugs a mini grill, charcoal, lighter fluid and a cooler full of raw meat down to the beach—only to find out open fires aren’t allowed. Before you go, read up on your beach’s rules. Many spots prohibit glass containers, alcohol and the use of large floatation devices; check for any local rules or regulations, too.
Pack Two Coolers
If you’re going to be at the beach all day, we suggest packing two coolers. Stock one with drinks and snacks, the other with your main meal. This trick will prevent your sandwiches, salads and other perishables from getting warm every time someone opens the cooler for a drink or slice of watermelon. (If you need a new cooler, this one from Yeti promises to stay chill all day long.)
Throw Some Shade
If you can, set up shop underneath a tree. Or, BYOBU (bring your own beach umbrella). Keeping your coolers in the shade will help them stay, well, cooler. This trick is especially helpful on a super-sunny day. For more tips, check out our guide to keeping food cold at a summer picnic.
Don’t Forget the Utensils
On a picnic, it’s up to you to bring everything you’ll need, so this is one instance where it’s OK to overpack! Make sure you bring along plates, napkins, hand sanitizer, utensils, trash bags, a bottle opener, a knife, scissors and more. After all, you don’t want to be the family that gets to the beach with a whole watermelon, only to realize you have nothing to cut it with. (These wine totes are totally worth it.)
One sandy hand can ruin an entire container of snacks, so portion out chips, dried fruit, etc., into individual servings before you go. Kids can grab whatever they’d like, and you won’t have to worry about wasting that bulk-size tub of PB pretzels. For added convenience, pick up snacks that are already pre-portioned, like a family pack of chips or individual bags of trail mix.
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