Make the most of your next day at the beach by having the food already taken care of. Here are a few of our favorite ways to prep beach-ready meals that deliver sand-free satisfaction for the whole family.
Falafel Pita Sliders

Between the sun, sand, surf, and sunscreen reapplications, you’re pretty much guaranteed to build up quite an appetite after a few hours on the beach. Given that “island time” tends to effortlessly slip away, you’ll want to think ahead to avoid being stranded with an empty stomach. Before venturing out, prep a few simple dishes ahead of time to save time, stress, and money (because really, who’s trying to carry cash to the beach?) on a desperate dash to the nearest beach grub shack. Instead, load up your cooler(s) filled with beach-friendly foods that you can grab virtually anytime—no need to pack up your blanket/umbrella set-up.

A couple of general tips to keep in mind when it comes to planning your surfside picnic: Foods that can be eaten with your hands or directly out of the container it’s packed in is best for the beach. Also, a high-quality cooler, like Coleman or Yeti, is suggested to keep drinks and food chilled for the entire day. Finally, try to pack more bottles of water than beer, hydration is crucial if you’re planning to spend a few hours out there. When I head to the beach, here are a few dishes I like the make ahead and tote with me.

Grain Salads: Farro Salad with Peas, Pancetta, and Radishes

Farro Salad with Peas, Pancetta, and Radishes
Credit: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Linda Hirst

Grain salads are hearty and keep well when prepared ahead of time since they can be eaten room temperature or cold. Farro is sturdy and offers a delightful chewy texture and equally delightful nutty flavor. Red radishes add a pop of color and crunch to the salad. You get a kick of salt and crispness with rendered pancetta and a finish of freshness with the mint. Fill pint containers with the salad for equal portioning. Top the containers with the arugula, instead of mixing it in the salad, to keep the greens from wilting. Eat right out of the container for ease.

Pitas: Falafel Pita Sliders

Falafel Pita Sliders

Pita flatbreads are a great alternative to sliced bread because they’re compact and hold your stuffings in with minimal risk of anything falling out and into the sand. Pre-stuff the pita with the falafel patty (or even a salmon patty) and vegetables. Separate each one into plastic zip-top baggies for easy distribution. Bring the yogurt mixture is a separate container to smear over your pita when you reach the beach—no one wants a soggy pocket.

Wraps: Spinach, Hummus, and Bell Pepper Wraps

Spinach, Hummus, and Bell Pepper Wraps
Credit: Victor Protasio

Wraps are another satisfying, handheld, no-fuss item to bring to the beach. Roll up your favorite veggies and deli cuts in flatbreads . Swap mayo for hummus for a thick and creamy, protein-packed condiment. Crumbly feta cheese adds a touch of tang and salt to offset the peppery sweetness of the bell peppers. Dark greens such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens fill the wrap with an extra nutritious crunch. To change things up for the kiddos, you could make pinwheels for a fun and snackable finger food to munch on throughout the afternoon.

Quick Pickles: Zucchini-and-Squash Pickles

Zucchini-and-Squash Pickles
Credit: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Vingerary vegetables make for light and easy snacking beach snacking on their own, but can also be used to spruce up your sandwiches and wraps. A quick pickling of zucchini and squash ribbons is complete in just about 2 hours. Prep them the night before and store in a mason jar, and you’re ready to pack them into the cooler the next morning. Carrots, Brussels sprouts, and string beans are also good options for simple quick pickling.

Dessert: Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Pies

Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Pies
Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Pies
| Credit: Jamie Vespa

Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Pies Jamie Vespa

These vegan, no- bake, mini pies are perfect to pop in your mouth and won’t melt in your hand. Buttery walnuts and almonds form the crust that is glued together with sweet, sticky dates. Silken tofu with peanut butter combine for an extra smooth and fluffy filling. We also have a strawberry version of this treat if you want a more fruity dessert. Just be sure to keep pack these in a plastic container at the bottom of your cooler, and keep them in the cooler until you’re ready to eat.

By Briana Riddock and Briana Riddock