When you’re packing for a day at the beach, it’s crucial to bring along some easy and tasty snacks. Laying in the sun, swimming in the ocean, and exploring the beach is usually more tiring than you might expect. You need sustenance to get you through the day.
The best way to pack food and drinks for a day at the beach is by storing everything in a cooler inside a large tote bag. Your food will stay cold all day, and carrying the cooler by its handle will make it easy to take it to and from the beach.
However, your favorite meals and snacks might be a bit too bulky to fit inside a small cooler. Here are our top eight favorite foods to stash in your cooler before hitting the sand.
The most common snack people turn to on a hot day is a bowl of sliced fruit. Not only are these fruits a summery snack, but they’re also extremely hydrating, which is crucial for staying healthy under the sun. The fruits with the highest concentration of water include watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, peaches, and oranges.
There are a few ways to bring some fruit to your beach day — you can put a combo of grapes and strawberries on skewers or add some raspberries to your water bottle. Keep your fruits in a cooler to keep them fresh in the heat!
Your body will thank you as you bite into a hydrating piece of fruit after a few hours in the sun. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can even drizzle honey on top of the fruit for the ultimate treat.
Sliced Veggies and Dip
Similar to fruit, many vegetables contain high amounts of water, making them handy to keep around on a beach day. While at the grocery store, throw some celery, cucumber, zucchini, and green bell peppers into your cart and slice them up when you get home.
Store them in a separate glass container and pick a yummy dip to go with them. Countless dips make vegetables an even tastier and more filling snack, including hummus, guacamole, and ranch dip. You can even throw some crispy pita chips or pretzel sticks into your beach bag for another dippable snack option.
Individual Ice Creams
Now, this is a treat everyone in the family will love. There’s nothing better than enjoying an ice cream treat during a hot day on vacation. It cools you down, satisfies your cravings, and is a crowd-pleaser. Although a tub of ice cream (or Italian gelato) is probably too big to store in your cooler, opt for individually wrapped treats instead.
If you want to cut back on sugar or are craving something a little bit lighter, throw in some fruit-based popsicles. And if you’re feeling experimental in the kitchen, you can try to make your own popsicles before heading out to the beach.
Pour berries, honey, lemon juice, and coconut milk or Greek yogurt into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into a popsicle mold and store them in the freezer for at least four hours. Then, wrap the popsicles in cellophane and store them on top of an ice pack in your cooler!
If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, it’s to bring as many hydrating snack mixes and drinks to the beach as possible. While sipping on a cold bottle of water feels fantastic on a hot day, be sure to add in some electrolytes.
While purified water is stripped of electrolytes, which are most efficient at keeping you hydrated, other drinks are full of these essential minerals. Choose between sports drinks, fruit juices, or coconut water to stash in your cooler for extra hydration.
If you don’t like the taste of these drinks, you can buy a bottle of electrolyte drops to add to your own water bottles.
Pasta salad is a summer staple that shouldn’t only be reserved for backyard barbecues. This easy-to-make and delicious dish is easy to throw into a plastic container and store in your beach cooler. There are countless recipes for different pasta salads, but the two most common are oil-based and mayonnaise-based.
For an oil-based pasta salad, combine red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, dried oregano, and salt and pepper. Drizzle it over cooked spiral pasta, mozzarella or feta cheese, and sliced capers, cucumbers, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. This dish is light, flavorful, and a perfect beach snack.
For a mayonnaise-based pasta salad, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice to make the sauce. Pour the mixture over cooked macaroni and sliced celery, green peppers, and yellow onion. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top for a garnish and store it in your cooler, slide on your sunglasses, and head out the door.
Deli Meat Wraps
For a snack that’s filling, easy to make, and even easier to store, roll up some deli meat wraps. There are countless ways to do this, but the basic recipe calls for a tortilla, deli meat of your choice (like salami or turkey), a complimenting cheese, some veggies, and some sort of sauce. A classic combination is turkey, muenster cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and mayonnaise.
After rolling the ingredients up in the tortilla, stack them on top of each other in a small glass container and keep them chilled in your cooler until hunger strikes on the beach.
A fresh salad is another way to take advantage of the in-season produce and give your body a fun way to hydrate. Similar to pasta salads, there are countless recipes to choose from, but a watermelon salad wins the award for freshness and hydration.
Cube some watermelon and cut up cucumber before mixing them together in a bowl. Stir in crumbled feta cheese and diced mint. Lastly, pour a dash of olive oil and lime juice on top, and that’s it!
If you’re struggling to decide whether to make room for fruits or vegetables in your cooler, this salad lets you get the best of both worlds! A produce salad is also a great mess-free option, void of any sauces or dressings that might stain your favorite cover-up.
Yogurt parfaits have always been used as a healthy and filling snack, making for the perfect beach food. They are easily stored, customizable, refreshing, and can be made ahead of time. Pour some Greek yogurt into a mason jar and mix in your favorite berries.
To finish it off, top the mixture with a handful of granola and a drizzle of honey. Kids might appreciate peanut butter or chocolate chips sprinkled on top. Screw on the mason jar lid and store a few in your cooler for a midday pick-me-up.
Necessities for a Beach Picnic
Now that you have the best beach snacks packed and ready to go, it’s time to throw the other essentials in your bag for a dreamy beach picnic.
Sitting on the sand while eating is asking for disaster. A simple gust of wind can carry enough sand to cover all of the drinks and snacks.
Having a large cotton beach throw to lay on the sand will give you a more comfortable place to sit and protect your food from the sand. Keep heavy objects on the corners to prevent them from flying up, and enjoy the room for a full beach picnic spread.
The best way to keep your pasta salad from getting too warm or your ice cream treats from melting is to sit under the shade while eating. However, most beaches aren’t fully shaded, so you’ll have to bring your own solution.
A beach umbrella will be a lifesaver when you sit on the sand and enjoy your food under the shade's refuge. Additionally, keeping your cooler under the umbrella will help keep it cool.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a chance of keeping your hands spotless while having a picnic on the beach. A combination of the various finger food and the messy sand can leave your hands feeling a little messy. Having wet wipes nearby will help wipe away the crumbs and sand, leaving your hands ready to grab more snacks.
A Perfect Picnic
What’s most important to keep in mind when preparing food for the beach is what foods are easiest to make and easiest to transport. The foods we have listed here are delicious, refreshing, and small enough to store away in any size cooler.
Extend your beach day by taking a midday break to enjoy food with your loved ones and relax on the sand.