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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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
And don't forget your swim suit.
What do you bring to the beach? Tell us in the comments below!