There’s no better way to welcome the warmth of summer than with a lazy day at the beach – soaking up the sun, digging your toes into the sand, and having a blast with friends and family. Frolicking in the surf and sand can work up quite an appetite, and the offerings at nearby concession stands are generally pretty limited (and expensive). Appease your appetite by packing some easily treats before you hit the beach.

Plan Ahead

Since you won’t be firing up your grill at the beach, you need dishes that taste great cold – with a cooler packed to keep them that way. Plastic containers are a must for keeping sand out of your food, and they make carrying everything easier. Focus on finger foods to minimize the need for plates and silverware.

Snacks:

Dry roasted nuts. These won’t go bad in the summer heat, their high fiber and protein content will keep you feeling satisfied for hours, and they’re loaded with potassium to keep your hydration levels balanced.

Celery sticks with peanut butter. These are easy to prepare, healthy, crunchy, and low in sodium. Smear all-natural peanut butter on celery ribs, and seal them in plastic bags.

Frozen tubes of yogurt. Buy some low-fat yogurt tubes and stick them in the freezer the night before you hit the beach, for a frozen treat that melts to the perfect consistency while you’re having fun in the sun. 

Appetizers:

Whole fruit. Whole fruit is perfect for a day at the beach. There are no wrappers to deal with, sand can’t penetrate their peels, and they don’t require refrigeration. Peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, oranges, and grapes are hydrating and chock full of nutrients. They’re also rich in fiber, which keeps you feeling full throughout the day.

Pasta salad. Pasta salad is a great picnic food, as long as you say no to mayo (a breeding ground for bacteria in the summer heat) and opt for a vinaigrette. Dress your salad up with tomato, onion, and bell pepper.

Hummus. One of the most popular middle eastern dips, hummus is loaded with fiber, healthy fats, and protein. Serve it with fresh or toasted pita bread.

Entrees:

Fried chicken. The only thing better than enjoying hot, crispy fried chicken is looking forward to cold chicken leftovers the next day. It holds up like a champ in a cooler – and fried chicken is the perfect finger-friendly picnic food.

 Wraps. Regular sandwiches typically require two hands, and at the beach, one of those is probably sandy. A wrap is easier to handle, and it’s fun to coil the ingredients up in a tortilla or lettuce leaf. Pack a whole-grain tortilla or huge lettuce leaf with veggies and lean protein, then wrap in foil, so you can just peel it back and eat.

Skewers. Everyone knows that food served on skewers is always more fun, and kabobs are perfect for the beach. Use veggies, meat – or both – for a hands-off, sand-free meal that’s easy to eat and doesn’t require the use of utensils.

Dessert:

Cookies. A simple finger food that’s easy to eat, cookies are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. You’ve never heard us say this before, but it’s probably best to skip the chocolate (gasp!) to avoid a gooey, melted mess.

Granola bars. Make your own by mixing equal parts honey and brown sugar with a little oil, bringing it to a boil. Toss with granola until the mixture is very sticky, then press into a pan lined with waxed paper, and let cool.

 Gingersnap sandwiches. Combine honey, lemon zest, and cream cheese, and sandwich the mixture between two gingersnap cookies.

Take full advantage of the glorious summer weather with a picnic on the beach, and enjoy the wonderful combination of sand, sun, and surf with your friends and family.