Take a few moments to think about what you’re putting in that cooler before you haul it to the beach. You might save yourself some food (and disappointment) if that block of cheese stays nice and cool in the fridge instead of sweating in the sand with you. Read on for more pearls of wisdom and bring your beach checklist up to snuff for a fun, food-friendly day in the sun.
- Never forget the water
Hands-down the most obvious beach must-have. Without adequate hydration, you run the risk of heat stroke or something more serious. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should avoid cocktails — just make sure there’s twice as much water as there is alcohol, just to be safe.
- Mayo? Hell no
Mayonnaise does not hold up once it leaves the cool of the refrigerator, not to mention baking in the unrelenting heat of a sunny beach. Instead, opt for salad dressings or sandwich condiments like pesto or vinaigrettes to add flavor.
- Bring on the trail mix, granola, and dried fruits
Refueling is especially important when spending an entire day in the sun. By packing snacks like nuts and dried fruits, which are packed with protein and carbohydrates, you’ll have delicious and easy snacks that will give you energy all day long.
- Forget the dairy
Even if you do manage to bring an insulated cooler to the beach, dairy products are best left at home as they are highly unstable if not kept at the right temperature. Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy said it best on a hot day—”milk was a bad choice“.
- Wrap it up
If you do plan on a sunset beach BBQ, be sure you wrap up your raw meats and pack them the right way, the safe way. The last thing you want is an entire cooler of contaminated food and drinks. More importantly, make sure your cooler can keep any raw ingredients cool enough, long enough.
- Marinate those meats
You’ve got the time, so use it. Marinate your poultry, beef or whatever you’re going to toss onto the grill the night before. Not only will this make for deliciously flavorful eats, the marinade will actually help preserve your meats.
- Veggies don’t need to chill out
Bring vegetables like bell peppers and corn on the cob to give you some variety on the grill. This will satisfy any vegetarians in your group and it will also free up space in the cooler since veggies don’t need to be chilled, especially when you plan on giving them a good char on the grill.
- Frozen fruits serve double duty
No one ever said that ice cubes were the only way to keep a cooler chilled. As an alternative, freeze grapes or berries, then add them to your cooler when you head to the beach. Not only are frozen fruits amazingly refreshing, but they will also help keep the temperature down in those red-and-white Igloos.
- Ditch the dip
Pita, pretzels, and chips are all delicious with dips like hummus or salsa, but are not always the best ideas for snacks at the beach. One gust of wind and you may get more sand in each bite than satisfaction. As a rule of thumb, the less exposed your food to the elements, the better.
What other items are on your food-friendly beach essentials list? Let us know in the comments below.
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