Packing for the Pool and Beach: Top Tips for Cooler-Friendly Foods

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

Cooler Packing Tips

Summer means lunches by the pool, snacks on the sand, dinner on a blanket by the lake, and usually, lots of hungry mouths to feed. Although it’s fun and convenient to buy food at the beach or pool, it can be expensive, and it’s often hard to find healthy options. With some planning, you can spare your wallet and your waistline by packing some healthy snacks or meals in advance of heading out the door.

An insulated cooler is necessary; however, ice cubes can melt quickly. One suggestion is to freeze plastic bottles of water and individual 100 percent juice pouches. They will help keep your food cool, preventing spoilage, and they will provide chilled drinks to stay hydrated!

Even when you have a cooler, some foods hold up better than others. Of course, you can always pack the basics, like crackers, chips, nuts, and dried fruit in your pool bag, but when you plan to spend the day, it’s good to have something a little more substantial.

Here are some suggestions that hold up well:

Wraps -- I always opt for wraps over regular sandwiches when packing lunch for a day at the pool or beach. For one, it’s just fun to coil things up in a tortilla. But more importantly, when the fillings are tucked away on the inside, they’re better protected — plus wraps are easy to eat with one hand. Here’s a favorite of mine: https://bit.ly/2M6TNDU

Skewers -- Because food on skewers is always more fun! Whether you go for fruit, veggies, or meat, kabobs make great beach and pool fare. This is a hands-off (read, sand-free!) meal that’s utensil-free and easy to eat, with even easier cleanup. https://bit.ly/2QgRxID

Couscous or pasta salad -- I’ve had a lot of experience with both of these, and they tend to hold up well in the heat. https://bit.ly/2FZ4vaw

Lettuce wraps -- I love this suggestion in lieu of a salad. Wrap up some chopped vegetables or other components in big, oversized leaves of iceberg lettuce. Then wrap in foil, so you can just peel it back and eat. Kids love dipping these in ranch dressing!

Hard boiled eggs -- Keep them cool, and it will be a perfect protein pick-me-up when the kids start getting groggy.

Whole fruit/ applesauce -- These are extra yummy when kept cold.  

String Cheese -- These are great because they are individually wrapped, providing perfect portion control.

Cookies -- Don’t forget dessert! Cookies are a simple finger food to curb your post-lunch sweet tooth. You won’t hear me say this often, but it’s probably best to skip anything chocolate to avoid a melty mess.

Packing healthy food that does well in coolers for the beach and pool will keep everyone satisfied, will provide energy, and will contribute to a fun day. Don’t forget the hand wipes and sun screen!



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