Picnic Tips

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What are some cheap and easy foods to bring to the beach?

Beach Foods on the Cheap

A glance at food prices quickly reveals that, pound for pound, snack foods are the most expensive items in the grocery store. So, what do you do if you want some fun and easy snacks to take to the beach, but you don't have a lot of money to spend? Make your own!

Start with cheap, refillable containers and pack them with bulk items like peanuts, candies or dried fruit. Grapes, cherries or carrot sticks are good choices, too. Pop your own popcorn for a cheap and tasty alternative to potato chips. Finish your picnic with homemade cookies and water in refillable water containers, and you will have everything you need for a fun and delicious snack without having spent a small fortune.

   
What kind of food should I provide?

Throw a winter beach party.

A novel picnic is the winter beach party, and the first thing that comes to mind upon hearing those words is probably a blazing fire. If you are planning to have a bonfire at your winter beach party, be sure to check whether it is allowed, and how to get permission. The warmth of the bonfire is fundamental to a fun winter beach party, and other than that, you'll just need some friends and some food. Plan to have foods that you can cook over an open fire, such as meats and potatoes and - for dessert - marshmallows. With the fire already raging, just wrap food you plan to eat in cooking foil or put it on dampened sticks, and roast it in or over the coals. Keep it simple and stick with meals that are easy to eat once cooked through, such as small roast cuts of meat, fish, and chicken. Try marinating them first for extra flavor. And don't forget the potatoes - they're always a favorite, and s'mores (roasted marshmallows sandwiched with chocolate between graham crackers) are a throwback to childhood.

   
What should I pack for lunch?

Keep your beach plan in mind when you pack a lunch.

Packing a picnic lunch seems pretty straightforward, but there are a few things you should keep in mind in order for your lunch to be healthy, delicious and safe. When packing your lunch, think about how long you plan to be at the beach and when you plan to eat. If you will be at the beach all day, you may want to bring snacks as well as a lunch. Consider packing some fruit, celery sticks, carrots or pieces of melon to snack on. Avoid salty snacks, since they tend to dehydrate you, or be sure to pack plenty of water to offset the effects of the potato chips and pretzels if you cannot resist. Pack sandwiches, but hold the mayonnaise, since it spoils easily. Other condiments can make your sandwich bread soggy, so get some restaurant-sized packs of ketchup, mustard, and relish, and apply them just before eating. Make sure you include ice packs if your sandwiches contain meat or dairy to keep them from spoiling, also. Pack plenty of drinks - especially water and juices - and if you bring along items such

   
What if my kids get thirsty?

Pack plenty of fluids to keep your kids hydrated.

It's normal, healthy and wise to give kids plenty to drink at the beach. Prepare ahead. Freeze containers of water, cordial or juice the night before a planned trip to the beach or picnic. You'll have more than enough on hand when they're thirsty and you'll prevent any risk of dehydration.

   
How can I ensure a safe place to hold a beach party?

Clean up your picnic area before and after your beach party.

Planning and having a beach party is a lot of fun, but it comes with a responsibility to your guests, to fellow beach-goers, and to the environment. When selecting a time and place for your beach party, think about its accessibility for your guests. Unlike a day at the beach that may only require a towel, a book and a bottle of water, you and your guests will probably be bringing in several coolers, chairs and game equipment that you probably do not want to lug long distances. Also, survey potential locations at around the time of day that you plan to have your party. That way, you will know what conditions to expect. If you have your picnic at the end of the day, be prepared to clean up seaweed, stones, and litter that accumulated during the day (since most beaches are cleaned in the morning). This way, you will have created a safe area for your fun and games, and you can literally kick off your shoes and enjoy yourselves. After your party, make sure that you remove any remaining food, litter, beach c

   
How can I keep food safe in summer?

Make careful food choices and practice safe food handling for a beach picnic.

Picnics on the beach are one of the wonders of summer. They are simple to prepare, but you have to plan carefully to avoid turning a simple pleasure into an uncomfortable and dangerous bout of food poisoning. Food safety is all in the preparation and storage of your food. Hot foods, such as cooked chicken and other meats, are best cooled completely before being refrigerated or stashed in your cooler. Otherwise, these foods can become host to many bacteria that will reproduce in warm, moist conditions. Likewise, food products containing eggs, such as mayonnaise, are likely to spoil or even create a bacteria-friendly environment when allowed to warm up. Summer heat intensifies the risks, so be extra careful about what picnic food you choose and how you store it while there. With a little planning and caution, you and your family can rest assured and enjoy your picnic on the beach.

   
Do I need permission first?

Check whether you need permission to have a beach party.

You've got your heart set on a beach party! But wait just one minute: many beaches are protected or governed by a local council, and may have laws and statutes limiting their use. Even if it is legal to have a beach party, you might need a permit or to pay a fee. Ask the local government authority whether picnics and beach parties are allowed, and what you need to do to have one on the up-and-up.

   
How can I hold a sun-safe beach party?

Create plenty of shade during a beach party or beach outing.

The potential for sunburn can often put a damper on a picnic or beach party. To help make your children's beach party safe and enjoyable, provide as much shade as possible. If funds won't cover hiring a large enough tent or shade-cloth, ask other parents to bring extra beach umbrellas. In fact, plan to have more umbrellas than you're likely to need. Mark out an area for games and stake enough umbrellas to provide a shaded area as respite from time spent in the sun. Umbrellas are versatile, and you can tilt them in the direction of the sun to provide maximum shade throughout the day by. Remember that sunburn causes more damage than a few days of pink skin and pain - it is a contributor to wrinkling, discolorations and a variety of skin cancers. Studies have shown that more sun damage occurs during childhood than any other time in our lives, so protect your kids from future problems while still letting them enjoy being outdoors.

   
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Heidi Splete