Dinner diva: eight quick picks for a beach picnic

ZZ beach wraps

Beach wraps/photo submitted

By Leanne Ely

Oh lazy, hazy beach days, one of the most wonderful things about summer. And what’s a day at the beach without a cooler full of goodies?

But one must be strategic when it comes to packing food for the beach. Why? Because there is sand. And hot sun. And wind.

One needs to make sure to bring protein that will hold up in the cooler and that everyone can eat with their hands.

One should try to avoid taking too many salty foods, as they will already be dehydrated and salty from the sea. Chocolate and beaches, for example, do not go together. They become a melted pile of goo.

It’s best to pack healthy snacks to keep energy up when in and out of the water. Even if one is just reading on the beach and not swimming, they don’t want to feel bloated due to greasy treats.

So, what should one bring to the beach? Here are some great, simple, healthy ideas:

  1. Fresh fruit. Whole fruits are better than cut up fruit when it comes to sandy fingers. Apples, peaches, bananas (though they can get mushy in the heat so put them in the cooler) are all good choices. A container of watermelon or cantaloupe slices picked from the rind is also fabulous for the beach. These foods are all hydrating, too, which is a bonus.
  2. Nuts. A great quick source of protein. One can make up a little trail mix of dried fruit and nuts. However, be careful crunching on sand, which is a challenge with nuts.
  3. Crackers. If one needs to bring along some carbs, try crackers instead of chips. They are healthier and less salty if whole grain crackers.
  4. Wraps. Whether it’s a tortilla or a favorite gluten-free leaf, sandwich filling is funner to eat when wrapped in something instead of stuck between two pieces of bread. Kids can also eat a wrap easier with one hand so their second is free for holding juice boxes. Wraps are also easier to … well, wrap. Use a cloth napkin—or even a paper towel—on the bottom half to allow dirty fingers to grasp the wrap without getting sand in it.
  5. Fried chicken. Yum! Need I say more? Fried chicken is perfect for the beach. It will hold up in the cooler and can be eaten with hands. (One can naturally pack paper plates and utensils, too.)
  6. Food on skewers. From boiled eggs and cheese to cured meats and veggies, kabobs are always a hit, especially for the beach given there will be no worries of sandy hands touching food.
  7. Salad wraps. Salads are not considered fun food by many people. However, veggies are important. Instead of going through the effort of fixing a big Tupperware bowl full of salad that no-body will want to eat, wrap the salad toppings inside of lettuce leafs and fasten with toothpicks. Spread a little dressing inside with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots or whatever else one desires in a salad and there will be an easy to eat salad disguised as a lettuce wrap.
  8. Beef jerky. Another great source of protein, beef jerky doesn’t spoil in a beach bag. Even if it falls in the sand, it can be easily wiped off. The perfect beach protein.
  9. Tradition. All of the above ideas are great, but there’s a lot to be said for tradition. If your mother packed egg salad sandwiches and iced tea for the beach, and you can’t eat an egg salad sandwich to this day without thinking and smiling about the beach, then pack that. Even if it’s not the most strategic of beach snack, go for it. Sometimes memories have to be made, even if it means sand in your teeth.
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