A beach picnic always sounds delightful but, unless you want soggy sandwiches and a mouthful of sand, some planning is required. After a life of living near the coast, I have developed a successful strategy for keeping sand out of my food and mouth.
Photo by Rich Brooks.
Since sandy hands are the enemy, this strategy is two fold:
- Clean your damn hands before touching the food.
- Un-package and pre-portion your food before taking it to the beach.
The first part is the easiest. Get some wipes and use them to wipe off your hands before even opening your cooler or picnic basket. Having wipes definitely cuts down on sand contamination but, even if you provide them, there is no guarantee that your family and friends will use them because, as I have discovered, people don’t like being told what do when they’re trying to have chill afternoon at the beach.
This is where the second part comes in, and why taking food out of its original packaging is so important. If you leave everything in plastic wrappers, bags, or boxes, sandy hands have to reach into that packaging to extract the food. If the food isn’t bite-sized, it either has to be portioned up at the beach (horror) or held in the hand an gnawed upon, which is fine if you’re alone but not conducive to sharing.
Taking food out of its original packaging, cutting it up into bite-sized pieces (think stuff that will fit on toothpicks), and then storing them in easy-open, high-walled containers makes your beach lunch easy to eat while keeping it sand-free (or as sand-free as possible). Make sure to provide toothpicks, so people don’t reach in with their beachy fingers.
Some of my favourite toothpick-able snacks are:
- Slices of good salami, cheese cubes, and fresh chunks of pineapple
- Peach slices wrapped in prosciutto
- Little mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and pepperoni
- Brownie bites with strawberries
- Sliced cucumber with chunks of feta and Kalamata olives
- Grilled and chilled vegetables with cut up cooked chicken
- Grapes with Dubliner cheese (Trust me, this is a good combo.)
If you really want to maximise the distance between hand and food, you can skip the toothpicks and use skewers. Forks are also and option (I guess), but there’s something very fun about making little kabobs while sitting on a beach blanket. Chopsticks can be fun too.