Everything You Need to Have the Perfect Beach Day

July 11, 2014

Beach Party Collection

A day at the beach is wonderful -- until it's not.

You've built up the trip in your head, so after a long drive, you slam the car door and sprint into the water. You fall asleep on the sand at 11 AM, and when you wake up, you're sunburnt and hungry. The only food in sight is overpriced, barely edible, or both. It's only then that you realize you've been stung by a jellyfish. 

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That scenario may be a little extreme, but it's true that a beach day can sometimes be more stressful than relaxing. That's where we come to the rescue: We've gathered the necessary recipes and supplies that will make your day at the shore as easy-going as possible.

First thing's first: Make sure you have blankets and towels. 

There's nothing more disconcerting than taking a bite of potato salad only to crunch down on sand instead. Pick a blanket that will act as a barrier between you and the elements; we like this nautical beach towel because it's tough enough for the ground, yet soft and elegant enough to hang in our bathrooms, too. For extra precaution, use net food covers to protect your precious salads against invaders.

More: Turn your beach day into a beach party.

  Net food covers 

Stock up on snacks for the road (and for the afternoon).
For those of us who aren't lucky enough to live walking distance from an ocean, lake, or river, it might take a while to get to the water. So pack snacks that will support you through a long car trip: Mix your own trail mix and grab a bag of fruit gummies before you leave.

  Trail mix

Make sandwiches, drinks, and desserts to take with you.

You need hearty salads that won't wilt or lose their oomph. You need salads that will survive for hours in the hot sun. You need salads that will still be alive when you return from yet another trip into the water.

And you need to hydrate. Don't rely on water alone: Make drinks that are fruity, refreshing, and, preferably, colorful. Keep your salads happy and your drinks cold by storing them with plenty of icepacks. For sweetness, bring no-hassle cookies and bars that will retain their texture and shape.

Here are the dishes we like to take with us:

Peanut Soba Noodle Salad by Nicki

Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

Southwestern Quinoa Salad, By Way of the Pantry
by Nicholas Day

Southwestern Quinoa Salad


Wheatberry Salad with Radishes, Asparagus, Walnuts, and Spring Onions by Gena Hamshaw

Wheatberry Salad with Asparagus, Walnuts, and Spring Onions


My Mother's Potato Salad by Kenzi Wilbur

Potato Salad


Louisa Shafia's Watermelon, Mint, and Cider Vinegar Tonic by Genius Recipes

Louisa Shafia's Watermelon, Mint, and Cider Vinegar Tonic

Fig and Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies by fiveandspice

Fig and Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies


Quick Peanut Butter and Chocolate Squares by divasparkle

Peanut Butter Squares

Coconut Chow Mein Butterscotch Cookies by Bob Vivant

Coconut Chow Mein Butterscotch Cookies


Granola Peanut Butter Icebox Bars with Oatmeal Cocoa Streusel by Kristin Irani Myruski

Granola Peanut Butter Icebox Bars with Oatmeal Cocoa Streusel

Pack up your salads, desserts, and drinks in no-spill, reusable containers.
The same jars you use in your pantry to store nuts and dried fruits are great for packing small portions of salads or sides, and an airtight storage container will come in handy even after beach season ends. Use it for potlucks, picnics, and office lunches, too.

Weck jars  Airtight storage containers  Weck juice jars

Make sure you have the right bags and baskets for your goods.
If you were ambitious (read: silly) enough to make a pie for the beach, a PieBox is the only way to guarantee it arrives to the shore safely. For a lower-risk dessert, turn to hand pies or slab pie instead. Stow your food away in a picnic basket, and fit your towels, your sunscreen, and a good book into a versatile tote.

Canvas and burlap tote Picnic basket  PieBox

You'll need disposable tableware.
Imagine getting to the beach and not having any forks to eat your salads with. Don't let this happen to you. You'll need plates (these ones are collapsible and will save room in your bag), a flatware set, and cups. Or go the other route and only bring foods you can eat with your hands.

Kraft Ripple Cups   

And don't forget your swim suit.

What do you bring to the beach? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • kimikoftokyo
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


kimikoftokyo July 13, 2014
Ok let's see I'm going to the beach soon so this is a great question. I have a versitle tote. I'm bringing drinks also something like above but they have a sealed lid that clamps down. ( wish I knew the name) it was an old wine bottle. Food, well I was thinking soba noodles rice balls and sweets. Oh I have the state of the art beach blanket. Everyone has their own bottles I just make the drinks. I have all the booze lol oh and my swimsuit and water to drink ! Sparkling for myself.
Sarah J. July 13, 2014
I knew I forgot something on the list -- alcohol! And soba noodles sound like a great beach food.
kimikoftokyo July 13, 2014
lol thats the first thing on our list lol. and yes all Asian cold noodles i think are great. and bean buns. thats my freinds new addition to the menu.