8 Genius Tips for Bringing Food to the Beach

Who's ready for some fun in the sun?

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Picnic on the beach at sunset in the style of boho, food and drink
Ekaterina Iatcenko/Shutterstock

Stay Sand-Free

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!).

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The water in the ice box on the beach;

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.

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Young man under green solar umbrella drink water from cooler on beach; Shutterstock ID 668276848; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
F8 studio/Shutterstock

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Whether you’re chasing your kids through the surf, playing a pro-level game of beach volleyball (here are more beach games to bring out everyone’s competitive side) 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.

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On the beach it is forbidden: walking Pets, drinking alcohol, Smoking, garbage, boating,bonfires. No dog. Please don't litter beach.

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.

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Friends on the beach. Rear view of cheerful young people walking by the beach to the sea while two men carrying plastic cooler
G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

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.)

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Beach summer couple on island vacation holiday relax in the sun on their deck chairs under a yellow umbrella.
Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock

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.

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Summer picnic on the beach. Serving picnic utensils blue with vegetables and sauces on striped tablecloths and knitted pillow.
Iuliia photographer/Shutterstock

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.)

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Almond nuts in plastic bag on wood background;

Pre-Portion Snacks

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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Katie Bandurski
As Senior Shopping Editor, Katie connects Taste of Home readers with the best gifts, deals and home products on the market. An avid foodie and a holiday enthusiast, Katie is an expert at cultivating meaningful moments. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and watching Christmas movies.