Food

What Food Do You Pack for the Beach?

What Food Do You Pack for the Beach?

What do you bring for a beach picnic? It’s funny how adventurous it feels to hang by the water with a basket of food, a gigantic blanket and just maybe some sneaky cans of wine or beer. After all, what’s better than stretching out on a lazy summer day surrounded by snacks?

It reminds me of Amy Krouse Rosenthal‘s funny quote: “When you go on a picnic, it is customary to pack three times as much food as your would normally eat. For lunch at home, you’ll have a sandwich, chips, maybe a pickle, and be quite satisfied. The picnic version, on the other hand, would be something along the lines of: sandwich, chips (for ten), some Goldfish crackers, pickles, fruit, potato salad and/or coleslaw, a few fried chicken legs, some random leftover from the fridge, and a bag of Tootsie Rolls. Even the napkin ration is askew: At home, one napkin is standard, but for the picnic you figure about seven per person.”

For this summer, the open-faced sandwiches on crusty bread from Dinner at the Long Table sound delicious and easy to pack. There’s no recipe required — you just need a tomato, mayonnaise, salt and pepper for one; and prosciutto and butter for the other. Prep it at home how you like and wrap it up. Then, as the cookbook states, “Sit on the dock of the bay. Call it a day.”

What Do You Pack for a Picnic?

So curious to hear, what do you pack for the beach? Any go-to picnic foods?

P.S. More beach necessities, and plane picnics.

(Recipe reprinted from Dinner at the Long Table. Copyright 2017 by Andrew Tarlow and Anna Dunn. Photo by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Ten Speed Press.)

  1. Insanely adorable and delicious! Oh my! Hubby would love this! Pinning now! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. A dedication of thankfulness is all together to make the page! I’m positive that it will be to a bewildering degree standard. It has shocking and priceless substance which is staggeringly primary these days.

  3. wooohoooo qualifying cookies 24-7 I LOOOOOVVEE it. That sounds like a sweet life to me.

  4. Yes indeed you tend to eat a lot more at the beach. There is something about the salty breeze that makes you ravenously hungry. I love beach food so go empty handed and try the yummy food we find here on beach stalls in Thailand beaches.

  5. I usually just pack a gourmet sandwich, some oreos, and lots of ice cold water. I always get thirsty after getting in the ocean. Last time my best friend and I packed champagne. That was so much fun.

  6. I have to say that you made my day with this pictures :) Soon I’m traveling to Spain with my girlfriend and you just gave me a nice idea of how to prepare my day on the beach. Thank you for sharing this idea with us.

  7. We have a beach picnic tradition where we always bring a full watermelon just so we can throw it down on a large piece of rock, watch it break apart and then picking up the pieces to eat. It’s fun. But I do love the thought of just prosciutto and bread with a little bit of butter. Simple, elegant and delicious!

  8. jd says...

    tomato + mayo on toast >>>>>>> avocado toast. Yep, I said it.

  9. Ingrid says...

    Pan Bagnat! These are from the South of France where I live (Nice in fact) and they are round sandwiches, with tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, radishes and sometimes (depends where you buy them ) artichokes. Bagna means soaked, in olive oil, but not dripping just nicely moist with olive oil and they are the best sandwiches you will have on the beach, they are wrapped in paper not to loose any of the wonderful things inside. By the way Pan Bagna is Niçois language, the local still speak this language.

  10. Rebecca says...

    I always thought a beach day should be a break from meal planning, but ever since I started making SproutedKitchen’s beach day tuna salad, everything goes more smoothly. Nice to skip a stop to the grocery store on the way. Turns out protein is key for all family members’ longevity at the beach. I make a sandwich for the tots and use the rest as dip for the parents with whatever crackers and sliced veggies I have on hand. Add La Croix, cheese snacks, pretzels, fruit and we’re good to go.

  11. hm I don’t remember ever doing a beach picninc, the image of sand in my teeth puts me off. But I do remember packing home made lemonade and watermelon. Also in Romania, at the Black Sea beaches, there is always some sweet corn, either boiled or grilled, mandatory with salt. On the waterfront there are many restaurants so I always had fresh fish or a greek salad. When we were kids, we used to go to this communistic restaurant where they served either huge portions of pork neck with potato wedges or pizza, there was nothing else on the menu but both choices were excellent.

  12. Mae says...

    We slap some BBQ baby back ribs on the beach grill. Ribs have to be marinated the night before, so all the flavor and the spices are absorbed in the meat. There’s a good feeling about eating those hot and fresh-off-the- grill bbq ribs when you’re on the beach.

  13. kate says...

    Just one big lunch box filled with big slices of watermelon with skin, so you have a handle because the kids hand are always covered in sand. We live near the beach in western australia, it can be super hot so we only every stay for an hour or so and any other picnic food would just end up sweaty.

  14. I’d like to do a more fancy picnic one day when the location is right but, being from Florida, I tend to take watermelon, barbecue chips, and a Publix sub to the beach because it’s the perfect combination for super hot days.

    Briana | youngsophisticate.com

  15. Laura C. says...

    Some sandwiches and fresh fruit. The must here is watermelon, you have to have a cooler bag with a lunch box full of watermelon.
    Your ideas are really brilliant though!

  16. Now I long for a picnic date to try this out

  17. Elizabeth N. says...

    Here in Hawaii we sometimes just grab a pizza and take it to the beach. Cheap, takes no planning, and is super easy.

  18. Molly K says...

    This blog’s comments section is a gold mine of ideas to try every time you post. I keep adding notes to my phone, lists such as “tips for road trips,” lullabies,” and now “beach food.” I even looked up what dolmas are, (one commenter said she packs them to eat at the beach). Now I’m excited to look for grape leaves at the grocery store next week. I am not much of a hot weather person, but these food ideas have me revved up to plan some picnics and enjoy the food and the family time. Thank you for bringing all these ideas together in one place :)

  19. lauren says...

    My recommendation: never pack anything that requires too much hand-ling. That’s just an invitation for a sand-wich.

  20. Ashleigh says...

    We’re fortunate enough to get to the beach about three times a week. My three kids are under 7, so fancy picnic fare is not an option (a sandy sandwhich is just a nightmare). I buy flatbreads, make some chicken salad with a few chopped fresh cherries, a few fresh veggies sliced into sticks, cubed watermelon, and avocado oil potato chips. I leave the chips in the car as a lure for my kids to leave. Morning beach days mean Chik-Fil-A drive through after (and frozen lemonades).

  21. Kate says...

    I’ve just returned from a few days on the Jersey Shore and our go-to was small turkey, ham, cheese and pickle sandwiches of Seeduction bread with Cherry tomatoes, bing cherries, grapes, and banana on the side. Simple, and perfect!

  22. molly says...

    My go to’s are: cherries or watermelon with Italian subs and cape cod jalapeño or salt and vinegar chips – or if I am feeling crazy cheetos. Plus no beach trip is complete without Dels lemonade.

    • Kelsey says...

      Molly, You are my beach soulmate! All.these.things. (…plus soda water)

  23. just water, loads of fruit and small nibbles. I never get hungry when I am on the beach. Oh…and a good fresh glass of Rosé when watching the sunset :)

    xx

  24. Lonnie says...

    Cherries!

  25. Laura S says...

    I grew up at the beach, so we never packed or prepared anything for a picnic. It was more about what could we pick up as quickly as possible to get in as much beach time as possible (you never knew when the sun would go in)! That was ALWAYS Wawa hoagies and a bag of chips. I can’t imagine actually putting together a big cooler of baguettes, cheese, meat, etc. Seems like a lot of work especially for kids. I also don’t think you need to pack so much. As long as you have a massive bag of chips and drinks, that is usually enough! There is always the ice cream man :) Oh and over 21, sneaking Summer Leinenkugels are a MUST!

    • Johanna says...

      Agreed! Saw this post right after I packed our bag for the trip to the beach with my four year old. I’ve got an insulated lunch bag with a bunch of fruit, some cheddar sticks, veggie straws and lots of water. That’s it! I hate getting involved because I just want to get to the beach!

    • @ Johanna Hahah, I laughed at “I just want to go to the beach”

  26. Sara says...

    I always try to make one thing & buy the rest for picnic lunches/dinners. Last weekend I made chicken salad. Then we bought flatbreads, gouda, Sriracha cashews, dried mango and Hobnobs. Served all of it with a bottle of Sangria that we mixed with lime La Croix.
    It was amazing!!

  27. Cold sparkling water!

  28. We’ve done a lot of day trips to the beach this year and I always pack a lunch. Usually PBJ for my daughter, a salad or tuna fish sandwich with pickles for me (however, the baguette sandwiches are calling my name.), some fruit and a salty snack to share. I always have a Fig Bar on hand for a mid morning or afternoon snack. I pack a big bottle of water for me so I can refill her sippy cup as needed. I also freeze bottles of water and throw a couple in the cooler. They work as ice packs and as they thaw out – more water! I almost always forget a plastic bag for trash though.

  29. MK says...

    My husband and I live in Oakland, but when we head To the beach in Santa Cruz our ritual involves breakfast burritos (the place ONLY makes breakfast burritos) and coffee from Verve, and maybe a cookie too. When visiting other beaches, we pack only what fits into the little cooler & dry food storage on our beach chair back-packs…helps keep the quantity reasonable. I swear by those silly chairs!

  30. Hannah says...

    My ultimate go-to for beach picnic: sourdough bread, mayo + whole grain dijon, deli turkey or chicken, munster or pepper jack, wickles pickles (which i think you can only find in Alabama) & perhaps some butter lettuce. But what makes it MY special beach sandwich is the addition of kettled BBQ chips once I’m ready to eat. It adds the best crunch and flavor and altogether kicks it up a notch :)

  31. Marianne Hoejgaard says...

    About a month ago I bakes French-style savoury cake by Rachel Khoo,
    and I haven’t looked back since. This loaf is SO delicious and easy to make, and it’s easy to take with you on a picnic. As an added bonus you somehow feel very chic and French when serving it :-)
    Highly recommend trying it out.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/cheese_pistachio_and_85849

    • Erin van Santen says...

      Hi there, looked through your recipe and looks like you make Dutch ontbijtbrood, a traditional sweet bread eaten at breakfast. I’m American, but my husband is Dutch and we live right outside Amsterdam. Thanks for the recipe!

  32. Karin says...

    Beach: If going with the family, I make everyone tuna salad sandwiches on wheat bread with a slice of cheddar. The cheese is key. We ONLY ever eat these on the beach so they bring joy by reminding us of the beach. I also pack pretzels or crackers and grapes (the grapes never get eaten).
    If I am going alone, I revisit my teen years and bring either a can of Pringles or a huge bag Cheetos and a six-pack of Diet Coke. I spend 8 hours reading magazines and eating my junk food. Ahhh! Summer rituals!

  33. Elise says...

    Our standard picnic fare is a couple of baguettes, goat cheese, hummus, apples, and carrot sticks. It’s perfect for summery outdoor picnics and rainy winter picnics sitting in your car by the shore!

  34. Em says...

    Turkey sandwich, or pb and j, some chips, fruit, soda. Nothing fancy here!

  35. B says...

    Oh! I CAN comment on this topic cos I recently feel like I’ve nailed the beach picnic dinner ?? hahaha it’s taken me many years but this is what we do… on the way to the beach we stop into a grocery store (I’m in Aus so we go to Woollies), and I pick up: a long bread stick, twiggy sticks, ham, sliced jarlsberg, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, some fruit, a bag of chips and chocolate. Then at the beach we just pull the bread apart and stuff it with the meats and cheese, and snack on the other foods. Then put any leftovers back in the bag it came in and take it home (there’s usually not any).
    No prep at home, super cheap, super easy at the beach (no cling wrap or soggy sandwiches, no plates, etc) and the best part is there’s basically nothing to unpack at home (no eskies or plates to clean up!).

    It’s basically saved my picnic sanity! With three small kids I need to streamline anything I possibly can! ??

    Now I miss summer ?

    • Lizzie says...

      I am going to bring exactly this next time. Thank you!

    • Jaclyn says...

      Genius. Thanks for the strategy/tip!

    • Susan M. says...

      this is brilliant.

    • Kile says...

      This is what I do too! For the beach and also as lunch when we travel. I always have a pocket knife (which is wildly out of character for me) and then I can add avacado or tomato or soft cheese. A grocery store baguette + whatever looks yummy (+ chocolate) = easy peasy and delicious. Another thing I like is a Panera stop on the way to the beach. Instead of letting everyone order something, I get a baguette and one salad to go and use the salad as the sandwich filling. (My youngest will only eat the chicken from the salad, so I make her one like that and make mine heavy on the veg) That’s lunch for 4 for about $10. This would probably be super yummy with a grocery store baguette and antipasto or other pre-made salad as well.

  36. Kristin says...

    We live near the beach and picnic all the time. Our favorites are salad in a mason jar (Pinterest has ten million ideas for these), turkey sandwiches, pretzel chips with hummus, frozen grapes, frozen thin mint Girl Scout cookies, peelable oranges and pb&j for the kids. If not doing a salad, we pack the food in bento style metal lunch boxes. It keeps everything organized and no need for plates or plastic bags.

  37. Ick. Food at the beach? Yuck. I hate grit in my teeth from the sand!! I’m actually kind of weird about it. We stick to easy sandwiches and fresh fruit, and buy Popsicles from the vendors. We’re very busy playing and food is an afterthought.

  38. DD Jeanne says...

    We always pick up subs from a local sub shop. (Williams Sub Shop on Tyrone Blvd. for anyone beaching around St. Pete, FL.)

  39. I wasn’t a big picnic person until friends started inviting me to them a few years ago. I would get so anxious about making the “perfect picnic dish.” The one thing that people kept bringing was supermarket-bought, pre-made taco dip and chips. It’s the laziest thing that always tastes delicious, and I really love the taco dip at Trader Joe’s. I’m also a big brie cheese and baguette girl (language wasn’t the only lesson I learned in high school French class!).

    For portable sweets, I love marshmallow fluff cream cheese dip (so very 80’s hostess chic), and cannoli dip (so 2010’s Pinterest chic). Both dips can be eaten with cinnamon pita chips and/or fruit. Grab some gluten-free pretzells and everyone’s in business!

  40. Omg ! This looks SO good! I live by the beach, but I never thought of doing anything like this. I bet smoked salmon would be just as delicious !

  41. rachel says...

    I love bringing hummus and crackers, meat and cheeses, some kind of chocolates, cider or hard root beer, sausages to grill ( if we’re grilling) berries, chips, potato salad….LOL the list goes on. We LOVE eating waterside, bbq’in by our favorite small lake, here in California. North Fork actually, the exact center of California! (fun fact)

  42. jaclyn says...

    I just went. I brought- grapefruit juice (handsqueezed since I am recently obsessed), a bacon sandwich with lots of pickles, a cookies and cream Hershey bar, lemon water, tomato salad with grilled zuchs, and popcorn. Basically I just prepared all the stuff in the fridge that needed to be cooked before it went bad (hence all the fruits and veg)

    • Claire says...

      I like you.

  43. Ashley says...

    I recommend eating your lunches and snacks on one of the gorgeous bonded leather mats from Gathre. I recently splurged on a big one and love taking it to the beach (wipes clean and sand slides right off).

    • Claire says...

      I’ve thought about getting one of these. Does the leather get super hot at the beach?

  44. Anne says...

    I never want to overpack/overeat for a beach picnic, because bathing suits. Baguette sandwiches are the best, and my favorite is something along the lines of the prosciutto/butter combo mentioned in the story (with a little cheese thrown on it) – it’s delicious, indulgent enough but not heavy, and it doesn’t get soggy. Though we did just get a little grill for our boat, which we take to our favorite beach on Martha’s Vineyard, and I am inordinately excited to grill hotdogs on it! Oh, and also plenty of session beer (lower alcohol) because it’s the beach and should be a little bit of a party. ?

  45. Pizza is a go to on the Oregon Coast ; ) This spread looks so lovely though.

  46. Morgan says...

    these ideas all sound sooo good. I usually bring some nice sandwiches – soft cheese, prosciutto, arugula on crusty bread. And salt and vinegar chips and san pellegrino/beer to drink. aaaand probably some strawberries.

    although last summer i went to the beach with a friend who’s a real picnic enthusiast and he brought Vietnamese shrimp cold rolls… vermicelli noodles, veggies, shrimp, herbs in rice paper wrappers. Also brought some peaches and crunchy snacks and wow it really elevated my picnic standards!

  47. RBC says...

    Growing up in Brooklyn, my mom would always pack bagels – usually everything bagels. That way you don’t notice the crunch of the stray grains of sand over the usual crunch of the outside of the bagel :)
    Plus lots of fruit!

  48. Sam says...

    I wouldnt say this is a great picnic food (for picnics im a solid wine, cheese, fruit kimd of a girl)– but i love bring BAGEL BITES to the beach. They defrost perfectly by lunchtime. Theyre so delicious and unhealthy. I love having them as a beachside treat ?… weird, i know.

  49. Maywyn says...

    Strings removed celery slice thin lengthwise; strawberries, handful of blueberries and chopped parsley mixed; cheese; good crackers; potato salad; cold beans; and a salad dressing like blue cheese or honey mustard or both.

  50. golden earth girl says...

    I eat open faced sandwiches daily but wouldn’t want to at the beach…. I love taking fresh fruit (watermelon!), carrots, hard boiled eggs. Growing up my parents would always pack salami and swiss in sourdough bread rolls. So, the open faced thing COULD work but you really don’t want to risk pieces falling into the sand. :)

  51. SUMMER SAUSAGE. It’s the best.

  52. Jennifer Smith says...

    Man, this sounds low brow, but…cheddar Chex Mix, paired with those marg-beers! Oh and cold cherries and strawberries. I ONLY let myself eat Chex Mix when we are at the beach and I love it! I would say for lunch we always go back to the house or out to eat.

  53. Laura says...

    I’ve learned from experience that beach picnics are never as good in execution as they were in my mind. My preferred sustenance ocean side is nothing but a very large, very icy bloody Mary! Then on to the beach cafe for fresh fish tacos, after we dispose of the sand.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds like the perfect day, laura :)

  54. Colleen S says...

    We did sandwiches when I was a kid. We’d go to some sub place and order them and go to the beach.

  55. Lisa says...

    Although I normally prefer open sandwiches, the one time I don’t want one is at the beach! Prefer them wrapped up so they don’t get soggy and or get full of sand. If I’m staying out all day and making a picnic out of it: yummy bread of choice with creme cheese/avocado/red onion/black pepper. Make ice cubes out of coffee, and bring ice coffee (with coffee ice cubes!) bring something salty, like chips or salty toppings for another sandwich.. and loads of drinks – water, coffee, juice, maybe something sparkling.. and fresh fruit and berries. Strawberries! Watermelon! Grapes! Peaches! If it’s just a half-assed beach day I throw in a pack of cookies, chips and a bottle of water.

  56. Kaitlin says...

    Hummus and things to dip into said hummus are great! (Veg, chips, crackers, baguettes…). And those newish water bottles that keep things cold are amazing (s’well and similar brands). I’m always amazed how refreshing cold water and , if it’s in season, watermelon are at the beach.

    My big suggestion here is to use a BEACH SHEET. Grab an old sheet you keep around for laundry days and use it to lay out on, picnic on, etc. Towels grab every little piece of sand and then are no fun to towel off with, but a sheet doesn’t (and helps you save your towel for after a dip in the water).Sheets are also bigger so they accommodate more sunbathers / picnic-ers. Just put a couple rocks / shells on the corners in case of wind and you’ll thank me later. :)

    • Colleen says...

      on your beach sheet idea, I use an old quilt and also save the towels for drying off. so much better!! I keep my old quilt in the car so I’m be ready at all times in case an emergency picnic breaks out.

  57. Jen says...

    This is exactly what we pack when head to the beach. Baguette, cheese, and some cured meat. The heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella is a nice touch!

  58. Lidia JP says...

    I grew up in Hungary no beach but lakes, among them the most famous is lake Balaton. Spent many summers there. The one thing I remember I ate is chimney cake almost the exact same as the one in San Francisco called the Chimney Cone where they put Ice cream inside. That smell that comes out of the chimney when they making them is just draws people there from miles.

  59. Becca says...

    For Father’s Day we got lazy and just brought a box of pizza with us to the beach.

    Apparently, there’s no bigger near heart attack than seeing seagulls near your dinner.

    This girls overpacks her beach reads though. Humans for the win!

    • Becca says...

      (Books as weights. That’s obvious right?)

  60. Louisa says...

    In my family we come in at lunchtime. Get out of the heat of the sun, make a pimento cheese sandwich, a pile of chips, and a beer. I never have any of these at lunchtime any other time of the year.

    I’m in a landlocked state now, but will be back on the NC coast in one month. I cannot wait.

  61. jen says...

    If you live near a decent deli–two or three huge pastrami sandwiches. And beer.

  62. My brother took me to Seu Jorge’s The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie at the Hollywood Bowl for my birthday and made the nicest picnic: Costco’s poke (trust me, so delicious), crackers, cheese, homemade popcorn, 1 bottle of white wine, 3 beers, and I brought a small bundt cake to share. We ate it all, so delicious.

    • Sarah D. says...

      This sound like a dream evening, lucky you!!!

  63. Ashley says...

    NOT yogurt. We learned this the hard way. ;)

    • Anita says...

      NOT so many things. Lots can can go wrong with food at the beach. The sand factor! (Sandy hands, sandy butts, sandy feet, I don’t really like sandy children near food) .The heat! (spoiling food or making it otherwise unappetizing). The greedy gulls! Beach picnics look idyllic but as a single mother of three children I think they are a pain in the ass. I have had much more enjoyable beach vacations with the kids when we leave the beach to eat (and know to get beach rentals within easy walking distance so that refrigerated, sand-free food is close at hand!)

  64. Amanda says...

    My husband and I get to the beach (Assateague island) once a year or motorcycle. It is tough to pack much so we stop at Subway for subs and water :) Then we get the good stuff on the Boardwalk for dinner

  65. Ana says...

    Bread, tomato, cucumber, yogurth, water, prosciutto, fruits like watermelon, apricots, peaches, blueberries. ;)

  66. yael steren says...

    Watermelon and grapes!!! Whenever I’m hot I just want refreshing fruit!!! xx yael

  67. oh fun!!! We typically go to a beach with a boardwalk, so we buy fries and ice cream but pack sandwiches – typical lunch meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion. I always take seltzer and then whatever fruit is in season. For me, this splits the difference between thrifty and a heavy load to carry.

  68. Kate says...

    This all sounds lovely! Oregon beaches can be so windy that I seldom bother to picnic. Mine are usually at wine bars or breweries that don’t serve much food, so it’s BYO!

  69. karen says...

    We have this friend who is the smartest snack packer. One day we were going for a hike with the kids and it looked like she was packing for an army. I laughed at her disaster preparedness skills, but all those snacks got eaten. Pretzels filled with peanut butter are life changing. And what does this gal bring to the beach? Peanuts in the shell in a brown paper bag. It is so so great to sit in the sand after a swim and crack open peanuts while staring at the ocean

    • Beth says...

      Seconding pretzels filled with peanut butter – truly lifechanging!

  70. Kate says...

    This post reminds me… When we get invited to a party or BBQ and are asked to “bring a side dish” I instantly forget all side dishes that ever existed and then phone it in and bring store bought cookies or something. I would LOVE a post that includes a roundup of good, relatively easy side dish winners. A good bean salad? Proscuitto wrapped melon? Some sort of pasta salad? Help!

    • I love how you phrased this! I’m the same way. I’m a decent cook at home, but ask me to bring something to share and I have instant anxiety paralysis. I love simple potluck ideas and wish I had some kind of rotation of just a few easy recipes to make for these. You’ve given me an idea to start a notebook of them now! And I’d love to see a post on this too.

    • Rachel says...

      I always ask my mom for potluck recipes and she just takes a photo of one of her standbys and sends it. It helps me when someone tells me what to bring. You could also ask the host, another friend or your partner! I find its easier to have an assignment rather than a vague idea.

      Also Lisa Z, get a binder and some clear sheet protectors to slip gathered recipes into. Keep it to the best of the best. Mine are all different formats: tear outs from magazines, photo copies, or the photos my mom sends me! I could copy them out into a notebook but this is easier. Bonus, when you are making something you can open the binder, just take the recipe out and the page protector is easy to clean if things get messy. We have a child’s pant hanger that perfectly holds the page and hooks onto our cabinet pulls at eye level. It saves counter space and is easier to read.

    • Taylor says...

      So I have two go-to side dishes that tend to be crowd pleaser for BBQ.
      Black bean mango salad: this is perfect because it’s better day 2, so you can make it the night before. Easy to double/triple and easy to make. Tip: just buy frozen corn and the frozen mango cubes- saves you even more time and doesn’t alter the taste. Also, it ticks all the boxes if you’re catering to lots of dietary concerns- it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan. Boom!
      https://www.google.com/amp/www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/corn-and-black-bean-salad-with-basil-lime-vinaigrette-recipe-1944044.amp

      2. Melon prosciutto mozzarella salad. I omit the asparagus, and just make it in a big salad bowl, again, you can make the day before just add the prosciutto the day of. The melon with lemon- so tasty 😋
      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/grilled-asparagus-and-melon-salad-recipe-1946279

    • Rachel, yes! I have binders with recipes in sheet protectors like you suggest. I have paleo (for me), vegan (for my daughter), and a general one. I’m going to do the potluck/picnic one too. And definitely, only the best of the best! Which reminds me, I need to cull the general one as it has too many recipes we would no longer use.

    • Mandy says...

      I just go to Smitten Kitchen or Ina Garten for the best ideas on everything food.

  71. AnneL says...

    When we were kids, we would go to one of the many lakes in the Twin Cities area to go swimming. My parents would put hot dogs in a thermos, fill the thermos with boiling water and bring buns and mustard. After we came shivering out of the water, there were actually hot hotdogs and carrot sticks for dinner.

    • What a great idea! I have never heard of this. Smart parents!

  72. Abby says...

    Cold tuna sandwich in a pita pocket with lots of crunchy lettuce. My mother used to pack them for us as kids and I still crave them at the beach as an adult.

  73. Ashley says...

    There’s something about the sun and fresh air that makes everything taste better. For us, it’s turkey sandwiches (just turkey, cheese, and mayo), pickles, chips, and frosty cold Dr. Pepper (from a can of course). I hardly ever drink soda, but for that week at the beach, a daily Dr. Pepper is unbeatable. Then lots of oreos for dessert, because they’re awesome when they get a little warm and the cream is all melty. Later in the afternoon someone will dash back to the cottage to pack up beer, hard cider, and chex mix for a casual happy hour as the beach empties out and the temperature cools. THE. BEST.

  74. I love all of these ideas! We live in Bermuda, so the beach is a regular thing. We usually just throw some coronas into a cooler bag and maybe get some fries to share at the café. When we’re on the boat, however, I seem to feel the need to pack a month’s worth of food. (which we then never eat because we’re too busy sailing ….) sigh. Need to up my game apparently!

  75. Peanut Butter and Jelly – always the best choice for the beach, especially if you sprinkle a few chips inside them. It’s like my favorite thing growing up. Haha!

  76. Growing up I don’t remember what our picnics were like because they were usually a potluck with other friends and there was always a ridiculous amount of food. But I do recall for our regular monthly roadtrips to see my grandma my mom would pack whatever leftovers we had and we’d stuff it into pita bread and there was also watermelon for a snack. =) My favorite leftover-in-a-pita is celery + minced pork + bean curd tofu stir fry.

  77. abby says...

    We love to take whole sweet oranges to the beach. There’s something totally blissful about sitting there, orange juice running down your chin, watching the waves crash. Other beach snack classics for our family include apples and sliced cheddar cheese, Juice Squeeze (which is a carbonated fruit soda available at Trader Joe’s here in California), and a sleeve of Ritz crackers. Can’t beat it!

  78. Sara says...

    My grandmother used to pack the best sandwiches and “cold drinks” for the beach. There was nothing better than her wrapping me in a towel and giving me a chilled Capri Sun… I still bring them occasionally and think of her.

  79. Vicki says...

    Gosh you guys are fancy! Grapes and juice pouches and Oreos and chips (or else I’ll get snack-envy because it seems like *everybody* else has Doritos, or sour cream and cheddar Ruffles — you know, all those delicious trashy chips from junior high birthday parties).

    • Kate says...

      OREOS. Why do they taste so good outside!!? I mean, they taste great all the time, but when they get a little melty and you’re hot and just out of the water…

    • Kate,
      My thoughts exactly on Goldfish! For whatever reasons, taking a bag along to the beach/pool is one of our traditions now. They taste sooo good after they’ve been warming up in the sun for an hour or two, plus the saltiness, YUM!

    • jules says...

      Pringles is my version of this. Easiest ever!

  80. Emily says...

    My favorite beach snacks are:
    Dolmas
    Chickpea salad sandwiches
    Crab seasoning chips!
    A cold container of watermelon
    And coconut sparkling water

  81. Mandy Winter says...

    My family of 5 like to take any kind of big baguette sandwiches, and Ofcourse some kind of chip type snack, BUT our favourite beach (lake here in Ontario ) picnic take along is Puppy chow ( look it up its not for dogs lol) we always try and save it for the ride home it’s the perfect post lake day snack with a hot coffee or tea from Tim Hortons!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Puppy chow! My (adult) friends and I had a kid-themed party where we watched Disney movies and ate Kraft mac n cheese with hot dogs for dinner, and I brought puppy chow for dessert. Neither of them had had it before! So so so good.

  82. Laura says...

    Jealous of all the beach-goers! I live in Kentucky but I live for pool season in the summer. Lately I make a batch of pimento cheese and snack on it all day with celery sticks. And some cold rose. :)

  83. Kathleen says...

    Just did a picnic this weekend!! There were only two of us, but we did gnocchi with pesto, a BIG tomato salad with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper, and crackers and Boursin cheese! We snuck a bottle of wine and some water and it was delicious! (Side note: I love that pesto season is finally here!)

  84. JO says...

    I am happily raising two little ones, but, so far this summer, I’ve been especially nostalgic for my pre-mom days of just sitting on the beach with nothing more than a yummy snack and a good book. For AS LONG AS I’D LIKE.

    • JO says...

      Oh, and in answer to the question, kettle chips and ice cold water.

    • Sasha says...

      That time will be here in no time flat. Trust me on this. And it is so nice to read a book and eat a snack you don’t have to share, with zero interruptions!
      But you’ll find yourself peeking at all the adorable little kiddos in their adorable little bathing suits, and sighing.

  85. Kelly says...

    Love these ideas! i am a midwestern lake girl, not a beach girl, but same concept! We usually grab either pb&j or whatever leftovers we have in the fridge…while we running around like lunatics trying to gather all the kid gear while my littles get nosy and curious and start unpacking the bags I’m packing!

    maybe this summer i can get the energy to plan ahead a bit and use some of these delicious ideas. we also usually bring goldfish and of course cherries and peaches so little ones can get all messy then just jump in the water….

  86. Jessica says...

    To be fair, you need five times the food you’d normally have for lunch, if beaching with kids. Their ability to drop food in the sand is unreal. As is their need for more food as soon as you get back into the car.
    We always do watermelon, kettle chips, veggie baguette sandwiches for the adults and good ol pb&j for the kids!

  87. liz says...

    beach sandwiches! just a simple turkey sandwich. is anything better?

    • Me too! Simple turkey sandwiches. When I was a kid we did not drink soda unless we were at the beach. I will forever associate a beach picnic with orange soda. So, turkey sandwiches for the adult in me and orange soda for the kid in me.

  88. eliot says...

    I’m halfway around the world from home and my family right now and even though I’ve been in India for nearly 6 weeks, nothing has made me feel as homesick as this post! Growing up we always took fried chicken, crackers with yummy soft cheese, cold watermelon, and brownies :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds so good!!! what a great combination of flavors.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Aw, Eliot! That actually sounds like the best possible picnic meal around — you guys hit all the right flavors.

      Hope you enjoy your time in India.

    • Rosemary says...

      That is my idea of the perfect picnic food!

  89. Ro says...

    We do pasta with red sauce or pesto and then eat it cold out of red solo cups. What can I say, we’re classy like that. Frozen fruit skewers keep little sandy hands from getting all over the fruit…and since they’re frozen, they help keep the cooler cold.

    Love the ideas on here…especially the ones about a breakfast picnic. Hope to try that soon!

    • karen says...

      Love the idea of frozen fruit skewers!

    • Agnes says...

      too much plastic form solo red cups:(

  90. The sandwiches look delicious! For drinks, only water, and for food we usually hop from the beach to whatever taco shop is open, then back to beach, etc. :)

  91. Em says...

    I love the idea of a picnic with brie and hummus and heirloom tomatoes, but when I go to the beach I usually just bring a towel and a bag of chips with sand in it :P

  92. We always bring baguettes, Brie, grapes, really good gourmet salami/cured meats, and Oreos. Like ten packs of Oreos. ?

  93. Kettle chips and helluva good dip, what more do you need?

  94. Johanna says...

    This post is right up my alley, I love the beach!

    For a short day, we normally head to a beachside restaurant, I love places on the water, especially at sunset.

    For a full day, I overpack, because I think swimming (and fishing, sometimes) makes you hungrier.
    I’ll bring a big cooler with plenty of water, juices, and sports drinks. I also like to stick apple sauce pouches and containers of cut up fruit and berries in there to get nice and cold.
    Our local supermarket chain makes the most amazing chicken tenders and so we’ll stop by for those, they taste delicious hot/warm/cold, whatever, and I’ll make sandwiches as well, but nothing too involved, you’re at the beach after all. Then fill in with bags of chips (the snack-sized kind) and cookies.
    At the end of the day, we too stop by the donut shop, or, if it’s dinner time, we’ll detour for some fast food because nobody has the energy to make dinner after a full day in the sun and water.

  95. Cindy says...

    Cold watermelon. Lots of it.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yess!!!!

  96. Annie Green says...

    Absolutely nothing that needs eating with cutlery. Cheese sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes. And later, ice cream. Flask of coffee. Now shut up and let me just sit and gaze….

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love the flask of coffee idea, Annie!

  97. Amy says...

    For really little kids at the beach, I make sure most of the snacks are “dry” like crackers, applesauce pouches, etc. Kids constantly drop food, and sand-covered food is never a hit. Last night we were at a beach that had picnic tables on the grass, so I brought ham/cheese/veggie wraps, pickles, and cut up veggies and strawberries with watermelon for dessert. Generally I’ve stopped eating meals at beaches though just because of the hassle with little kids. As they get older it’ll be more fun again ;)

    • shannon says...

      Also! We took a pop-up beach tent for the first time and it was amazing. We both took a nap in it…no sunburns…it blocked the wind…and it didn’t blow away like an umbrella always does. We found ours at Aldi!

    • I got a pop-up beach tent for this year, too! So tired of fighting flying umbrellas or renting them.

  98. BR says...

    Licorice, duh!

  99. L says...

    We do short beach trips–leave work/school a few hours early, and get to the beach around 4. Our beach food is a super-minimalistic substantial late afternoon snack, usual PB+J. Then we end the evening at the local ice cream shop, and call that dinner.

  100. I could stay at the beach all day as long as I had chips, fruit, and a peanut butter sandwich (and water).
    When I was younger we used to make peanut butter and pickle sandwiches (you read that right haha). I haven’t had one of those in a very long time but now I’m curious if I’d still like it as an adult.

    • Kerry says...

      Yes! Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches! We also ate those as kids growing up in the Midwest. Has to be dill pickles. Reading all these great ideas, I want to go have a picnic on the beach, but no beach here! Haha!

  101. I love caprese sandwiches at the beach, basically the same concept with the crusty bread. And obviously a millions snacks. My husband and I went to the beach recently and only brought a (family size) bag of chips as our snack, and we ended up eating the entire thing. Cue the embarrassed eyes.

  102. Annie says...

    Hello gorgeous tomatoes!!! Did they taste as good as they look?

  103. Samantha Zimmerman says...

    This is too funny. I just got back from a beach trip with my best friend and goddaughter (7), and we brought WAY TOO MUCH food for three people on a 3 day trip. We had guacamole, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and Nutella toast picnics each day. And brought cheetos, Doritos, two boxes of cereal, a quart of milk, a gallon of sweet tea….and lots of wine. :)

  104. Emily says...

    pimento cheese or chicken salad on mini king’s hawaiian rolls (we make them and then pack them back in the bag for transport), grapes, and approximately 4 bags of salt and pepper or jalepeno chips per person.

  105. Lauren E. says...

    My friends and I usually just pack an embarrassing amount of snacks (no real meals). Beyond the usual chips, pretzels, apples, and grapes, a friend introduced me to Blue Diamond salt and vinegar almonds (to. die. for.) and she also makes shandy: buy a big bottle of your favorite lemonade, pour half out into either a pitcher at home or your saved empty bottle from last time, and fill the empty space with delicious summer ale (our favorite is Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale). That way you avoid getting drunk (because let’s face it, one beer in the sunshine is like four beers any other time) and the beach cops won’t catch you.

  106. Jenny says...

    Oh, this post and these comments make me so sad to live in the Midwest. While picnics in the park are lovely, there’s nothing like the beach. I think the salty air makes food actually taste better. I will, however, pack these amazing looking sandwiches for a picnic at our local pool. It’s the prettiest body of water we have. And I will say, the pretzels at the concession stand are TO DIE FOR. So that’s what we normally eat when we go. :0)

  107. Kate says...

    It’s like a road trip! I’m planning a 9 hour drive this weekend and when I compare what I normally eat in 9 hours on a normal day with what my husband and I tend to pack for the same amount of time on the road, the ratio is definitely a bit skewed :-/

  108. Lesley says...

    My fiance’s family has the sweetest tradition– they took an annual vacation to a beach house growing up, and the last morning before heading home, they always got a box of donuts and ate them on the beach. Now, when he and I go to the beach, our last stop is always a box of donuts with coffee on a blanket watching the waves.

    • Blythe says...

      Lesley this is the SWEETEST thing I’ve ever heard! I’m going to start a tradition like this too! xoxo from Indianapolis!

    • Such a great idea!

  109. Sasha says...

    Sigh, no beach here. But we do go camping all summer long, leaving Friday morning for a week in a meadow by a creek in the mountains. One of my favorite meals is burrito roll ups, just make ahead and so delicious. Spread refried beans, cream cheese, shredded cheese on a tortilla and roll up…you can add green onions, corn, black beans, tomatoes if you like. Dip in sour cream and salsa and guac.
    I like veggie sushi nori rolls too.

    When we back pack we eat freeze dried food out of a foil pouch. Anything tastes good when you are tired and hungry enough lol.

  110. Beth says...

    I love a good picnic! I’ve tried bringing all sorts of food, but I always come back to chicken salad sandwiches. I make them with shredded chicken, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries, red onion or radish, mayo, S + P and a dash of lemon juice. Tastes light, but feels filling! Packing the salad separately from its bread or bun and assembling on site keeps it from getting soggy.
    Grapes or strawberries and carrots or cucumbers accompany any picnic dish nicely.

    • Agree, chicken salad! I often put it in tortillas for easier transport.

    • Mariana says...

      Love this!

  111. Cassy says...

    We live only minutes away from some beautiful beaches but, unfortunately, I had to stop bringing food with us. The seagulls here will are very aggressive. They stole a sandwich out of my son’s hand and bit him in the process. I’ve seen them be more vicious trying to get food, they’re not afraid of people. Now I just bring water and applesauce pouches and we leave after a few hours to go home for lunch.

  112. BMP says...

    Love picnics! Recently on a summer trip to Montreal, we packed a picnic to go to a local beach. We bought some Montreal smoked meat, a loaf of rye bread, with a jar of good mustard and some pickles. We made sandwiches right there on the beach. Finished it off with some cherry Cokes and peaches for dessert! So good!

  113. Emma says...

    I’m from Florida and I remember many summer evenings growing up with picnics at the beach. Publix (best grocery store ever!) deli fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, potato wedges, watermelon, and a container of cut up vegetables. Then an evening swim when you don’t need to squint your eyes, lose your sun glasses to a wave, or put on sun screen!

    • Anne says...

      Emma – Ha! I LOVE this…! I am from Florida too and now live in North Carolina, where (sadly…!!) Publix does not exist. But I 1000% agree – it is the BEST grocery store ever and I am craving their chocolate chip cookies right now! People who didn’t grow up with Publix just don’t understand…

      Thanks for making me smile today!!

      XO – Anne

    • Emily says...

      This is my childhood to a tee! I could close my eyes and be on Anna Maria Island (Manager County) with this description. Only addition…a Pub Sub! I miss those days!

    • Em says...

      Yes, I miss Publix! (I’m from Miami )

    • Emily says...

      Ugh, autocorrect. *Manatee County

    • Emily says...

      Anne – you might not be deprived much longer. I live in CLT, NC and we’ve had a publix boom in the last 5 years. There are two now within 20 minutes of me and they’re continuing to pop up all around.

    • Lois says...

      Yes, absolutely, Publix fried chicken. And those super dough-y hawaiian rolls, and a container of carrot & celery sticks. Individual portions of chips (to avoid sandy hands in a big bag), and grapes. As Canadian vacationers in Florida, I’d thought we’d discovered something new & sensational. I love hearing about all you other publix chicken picnickers!

    • Hannah says...

      Ugh pup subs and the deli sweet tea. Best thing in the world. I’m from Georgia but sadly living in Utah :'(

    • Abbie says...

      YES! A Pub Sub (Boar’s Head meat…don’t skimp) and you’re all set–especially when you can do the online ordering thing and skip the line of people heading to the beach/out on the boat with the same idea. I might be kinda gross but I sort of like them better when they’re a little soggy and the flavors have melded together. Publix also has serious cut fruit bowls to keep the kids happy. PUBLIX FOREVER!

  114. Ashley says...

    My favorite picnic food is caprese salad. I’ll use the small mozzarella balls with grape tomatoes and dump it all into a bowl with a lid rather than laying it out on a platter. Also little cans of Rose, of course. ;-)

  115. RU says...

    No/Minimum cooking but still filling food options for picnic:

    Cowboy Caviar+ Chips

    Corn on Cob (wih chili+lime/Butter/Pesto/Caso cheese)

    also easy to carry guacamole ingredients separately and mix only when ready to eat
    No browning!

    Fresh fruit
    (watermelon wedges ,strawberries/clementines)

    A travel pitcher with cold home made lemonade

  116. Capucine says...

    Burritos! From a taqueria. Neat, self contained, kid-pleasing.

    Or, a baguette with Boursin, Dubliner, cornichons, and butter. With arugala for the adults. Not as tidy as burritos but the crowd favorite.

    One of those two. We live at the beach so this is kind of a constant grind, beach food. Because, kids. These are the ones that take the least space and will truly get eaten, and my schlepping mother self can do them with my eyes closed.

  117. Anne says...

    I’m not usually nostalgic, but this topic is sending me back down memory lane! When I was little, my mom found this brand of flavored fruit straws, basically like blueberry and green apple-flavored Twizzlers, that were a special treat for the beach. When I was a teenager and could drive to the shore with my friends, it was all about the Wawa sandwiches!! Now, I’m in my 20s and my fiancé lives just a minute’s walk from the beach, and I’m collecting memories of homemade margaritas at sunset, or quiet cups of tea at sunrise.

    • Shan says...

      Wawa sandwiches! Thank you for making me nostalgic now!

    • Meghan says...

      okay, what’s a wawa sandwich?

    • Brielle says...

      I second Wawa sandwiches! And their soft pretzels.

    • Anne says...

      Meghan, Wawa is a convenience store / gas station in the NJ and PA area, which makes it sound way trashier than it is. They make really good hoagies :)

    • Emma says...

      The Wawa next to my work closed last year and I still miss being able to run out for their sandwiches at lunch time!

  118. Elise says...

    Looking forward to the ideas here! Most nights in the summer, when we get home from work/camp, I take my boys (1 and 4) outside to eat a picnic in the backyard with a blanket on the grass – they love it! Last night I put out tofu/cauliflower rice (TJ!)/asparagus leftovers that I thought were delicious. They were not impressed. Fortunately, I had peanut butter and jelly on hand as a backup and the picnic was saved.

  119. spark says...

    We live on the western coast of Australia where Summer temps can get quite hot, especially when you have little ones. We often have a breakfast picnic, loads of fruit and bacon, egg and HP sauce on bread. Make them at home, wrap in foil and utterly delicious at the beach. On the mornings where I am not so organised with ingredients, a quick stop at the local French bakery is even better. Coffee, croissants and the Indian Ocean is a pretty good combination. You can have a look at my little piece of heaven on the local surf cam…http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Cottesloe-Beach/webcams/latest

  120. Ooh, we have a picnic tradition, both at the beach and on Friday evenings in the city. We hit up Trader Joe’s and get a baguette, triple cream brie (swoon, that stuff is amazing), ginger beer, maybe some cookie butter and gingersnaps, hummus, olives, sometimes fruit, and those crunchy little cucumbers. It’s perfection, and all stuff we can eat without prep.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Rachel, this sounds so delicious!! Definitely buying triple cream brie tonight now.