When thinking about beach safety, it’s not often that people think about the food they take to the beach, but it is something you should keep in mind!
While, at home, we’re probably quite fastidious about food safety and keeping things in the fridge, the minute the sun’s out we throw some food into a bag and away we go to the beach – but, what’s in that bag might be things you shouldn’t really store outside of the fridge for any considerable amount of time.
Pack that beach bag at, say, 8am, then leave it on the sand in the sun all day, and some of those foods might simply not be something that you should be eating unless you’re a risk taker!
For beach safe foods, unless you’re actually going to lug an entire cool box to the beach with you, it’s probably best to avoid most meats. The meats you can safely take would be those which are packaged and sold in supermarkets from shelves, not from the coolers. Tinned meats are going to be fine (but choose the ring pull meats, else you’ll find you’ve forgotten the tin opener!). Having said tinned meats, you then have to think about the weight of all that, alongside your swimming gear, your little beach tent, some reading material, sunscreen … and so it goes on!
Alternatively, you can simply take some beach safe side dishes with you – and use the opportunity of visiting the beach to sample some local produce as the main event! There’s a beach in Cornwall that’ll prepare crab for you to collect at a pre-set time, so you order your crab when you arrive at the beach, then collect it later! In that case you’d just need to take some nice breads and a side salad with you!
So here’s a list of 12 Beach Safe Foods you can grab and go.
- Mixed salad: Make up a mixed salad of your favourite leaves, tomatoes, cucumber etc. I use lightweight noodle bowls to make these and transport them; intended as microwave cookware, they’re perfect to use for beach food. If you’ve no lidded plasticware, then you can use a sandwich bag to make up individual portions. Eat from the bag and there’s no washing up – but take your rubbish home with you! The great thing about using my noodle bowls is that I can add further ingredients into the bowl at the beach, e.g. a small can of tuna, to produce a beach safe tuna salad!
- Cheddar cheese: Cut the cheese up into cubes before you leave home – and you’ve got a great nibble, or filling for sandwiches. Grated cheese is another option, which can be turned into sandwiches. If you are planning on making your own sandwiches at the beach, on demand, then at least butter the bread before you leave home. You can’t take butter to the beach as it’ll melt – and trying to butter bread with a knife on a sandy beach is a big No No!
- Tomato Sandwiches: I have to add this one as tomato sandwiches were the backbone of our beach feasts when I was growing up. Mum’d make up simple tomato sandwiches and pack them into a Tupperware box – the tomato would seep into the bread and the resulting Squashed Tomato Sandwiches as I used to call them was gorgeous. The bread soaks up all those tomato juices and squidges down to be a great treat (to me, my sibling HATED them!). Certainly any form of simple Salad sandwiches of salad leaves/lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, spring onions would be beach safe food.
- Individual cans of flavoured tuna, with the ring pull. Sold in little tins, typical products include John West Spreadables Tuna Mayo Sweetcorn, or Coronation Tuna. Coronation Tuna’s like Coronation Chicken, but it uses Tuna. With these cans, they’re small, so you can open them when you need them, knowing that nothing’s “gone off”. Once opened, use them as sandwich fillers, or mix them through pasta to produce a tasty pasta salad. For those on a diet, there are Weight Watcher tinned tuna ranges that include Coronation Tuna, Tomato & Herb and Sweetcorn May – serve with a salad bowl.
- Pizza Breads & Flatbreads: You can cook up some quick pizza breads, or buy some, keeping to simple flavours of just cheese/tomato, or cheese/onion. Again, if you’re buying these, then think about where you’re picking the packet up from. Some breads are sold in supermarkets in the chiller cabinet – you need to buy those that are sold on the bread shelves, without any chilling. You can make your own and then either wrap them in foil, or put them in a Tupperware style box. I often take a couple of my pizza baguettes with me, often made the night before, cooled then wrapped in foil.
- Potato salad: Using mayonnaise sold in the supermarkets on the regular grocer shelves (so, not in the chiller), potato salad is easy to make and a great beach picnic filler. Simply cube/cook potatoes until they’re edible, but not soft, then mix through some mayonnaise and/or mixed herbs. Additionally, add chopped raw onion (red or white). You can use tinned potatoes to make potato salad too!
- Veggie meatballs: These make for a great beach nibble. Veggie meatballs are entirely beach safe as there’s no meat in them. Make them small, you can toss them in with a pasta salad, or you can make them large and make them a food item in their own right.
- Veggie Scotch Eggs: Fancy a scotch egg at the beach? Made traditionally of pork, pork’s a meat that shouldn’t be left out in the hot sun all day, then eaten 8 hours later! But you can substitute sausagemeat with a veggie alternative and either make your own veggie scotch eggs, or search out the ready made Quorn variety in your local supermarket. Indeed, there are quite a few emerging Quorn products perfect for a beach picnic, including ready-cooked sausages. Personally, I like to make my felafel scotch eggs!
- Couscous: This is a great little beach treat – couscous is entirely safe and you don’t even have to make it up before you go! One “beach tip” is that if you simply add any liquid to couscous it’ll plump up – using cold liquids just means it takes a little longer. Again, my noodle bowls are good for this as they’ve a click n lock lid. Simply tip couscous into a pot with a sealable lid (thinking here of sand not being allowed to get in) – pour in liquid, whether that’s plain water, or water with a crumbled stock cube/spices, or even a small carton of fruit juice – and wait. Why not try: couscous, orange juice, walnuts & sultanas.
- Pasta Salad: Pasta’s entirely beach safe – you can make up a full pasta salad before you leave home, or take plain cooked pasta with you and add a variety of extras to it at the beach to turn it into a more inviting pasta salad. You can mix the pasta through with either a squirt of mayonnaise (use shop-bought mayonnaise from the regular grocery shelves), a sprinkling of herbs, maybe add grated cheese to it, or open a tiny ring-top pull tin of tuna!
- Jellies and Tinned Fruit: If you can pick up the small tins of pineapple with ring-pulls, these can be a great standby. You can eat the pineapple straight from the tin – don’t forget a spoon!. Also, you can either buy, or make, jelly pots containing tinned fruit. If you’re making your own, you can use the Lock N Lock (or Click N Lock) style mini boxes to make individual portions! Plastic is lightweight – and with secure lidded pots you can make them ahead of time and they’re then easy to store/pack.
- Fresh Fruit: All fruit will be safe, so all you need to think about is how portable is it and how messy – you have to think about sand getting into the food and ruining it. Bananas are great, apples, grapes and plums! Oranges are a little harder as you’re using sandy hands to pick away at the outer skin. Just keep the fruit simple!
Above all, it should be easy. You need to think about the combinations of food you can take/make on a whim – and how heavy it’ll be. Don’t turn a great day out into a chore! On the other hand, you don’t want to be sitting on your rock on the beach with plain cheese sandwiches, envying what those around you are eating!
Some days I’ll just grab some potato salad, a mixed salad in a noodle bowl, a couple of tins of flavoured tuna in sauce and a couple of my own baguette pizzas – and I’m good to go! Bike, beach tent, cheery beach towel, food! Off to the beach, keep it simple.