Realistic and Healthy Beach Snacks & Lunches: For You and the Kids!

Some of my best childhood memories were spending long days at the beach! Little did I know how much WORK it takes from a parents/caregivers perspective. SO. MUCH. TO. PACK! In addition to all the essentials (towels, sunscreen, chairs, buckets, shovels etc.) you need to pack meals and snacks for the day. Moreover putting together healthy beach snacks that both you and the kids will love can seem like a daunting task on top of the above mentioned. I have put together a list of healthy beach snacks and lunch ideas to make it easy for you! And these lists work great for trips to the lake, pond, pool or a day out on the boat too!

Tips for making the day/morning of easier!

  • Plan ahead: The day before decide what meals and snacks you are going to bring and grab anything you don’t have at home. The night before portion out any meals and snacks into containers or snack bags. You will have the right portion sizes and also keep those sandy fingers from diving into everyone’s food!
  • Bring a cooler: on hot summer days you want to keep the refrigerated foods cold to prevent spoilage and food-borne illness. Plus, cold drinks and snacks feels so good on a hot day! Fill with ice or reusable ice packs.
  • Pick balanced snacks and meals: the kids will be running around and swimming (and you chasing after them!) burning tons of energy. To make your beach snacks healthy, pair protein, fat, carbs and snacks so that you stay full and energize.
  • Pack beverages: Lastly make sure you pack plenty of drinks (and reusable cups) for everyone. Also, pack some clean ice for your drinks!
Healthy beach snacks fruit skewers

Healthy Beach Snacks Suggestions

  • Nuts and fruit or try nut butter for dipping with a banana or apple
  • Whole wheat crackers with cheese cubes/sticks
  • Veggies (peppers, carrots, cucumber) and hummus
  • Yogurt and granola (if you need dairy-free yogurt check out comparison here!)
  • Veggie sticks with Greek yogurt dip: Add powdered ranch dip mix to plain Greek yogurt for a delicious, high protein dip
  • Fruit (grapes, clementine, cherries) and a string cheese
  • Granola bars or protein bars: look for a good amount of protein and fiber, low in ADDED sugar
  • Whole grain tortilla chips with black bean dip and/or salsa.
  • Fruit skewers: berries, grapes, melon cubes will taste great and will be easy to eat with sandy fingers! Pair with a yogurt dip or cheese stick.
  • Whole grain crackers with guacamole (pre-made, homemade or just a mashed avocado) and sliced tomato
  • Ants on a log! Celery, nut butter and raisins or dried cranberries.
  • Protein energy balls- bring frozen and let defrost
Healthy beach snacks and lunches

Beach Picnic Lunch Ideas

  • Sandwiches: These tend to be the easiest travel friendly lunch and can also be easily customized for picky kids or made more adult friendly! Choose whole grain bread to get in the fiber and nutrients!
  • Tuna/chicken/egg/chickpea salad sandwiches: great choice full of protein and healthy fats. You can easily make it the night before. Keep the mayo light (trying subbing out some Greek yogurt) and add some texture/crunch with celery, onion, pickles, grapes, walnuts, dried cranberries.
  • Deli meat sandwiches: Turkey, ham or roast beef can be an ok option, opt for a low sodium version and choose cold cuts that are cooked fresh at the butcher/deli. Processed meals like salami, bologna high in fat (the unhealthy kind), sodium and all sorts of chemicals. Leave those behind and stick to the nitrate free, low sodium meats.
  • Hummus and Veggie wrap: filling, full of veggies and will keep better in the cooler than the above mentioned deli meats.
  • Ol’ favorite PB&J: peanut butter (or any nut butter!) and jelly is such a comfort food, right?! Bring the classic or switch it up with a nut butter and sliced bananas.
  • Salads: pasta salad, garden salad, potato salad are all great ways to get some veggies in. Add peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes. If it’s a lettuce based salad, bring a vinaigrette on the side. Keep the mayo or cream based dressings low, they don’t love the heat. Top with some protein like leftover chicken or chickpeas for a balanced meal.
  • Bring leftovers: if you have leftovers from the night before that your kids (and you loved) bring those! The night before package up your leftovers in single serving containers to make it easy the next morning.
  • Make a meal out of the snacks: Don’t worry about making it a standard meal. Pair some of the healthy beach snacks listed above for a fun meal. Make a fruit and veggie platter with fun dips. Or make a “lunchables” style bento box.
child eating healthy beach snacks watermelon

Tips for Staying Hydrated

On hot sunny days (no matter where you are!) staying hydrate is equally important. Make sure your cooler has plenty of drinks to keep you and your kids hydrated. Don’t wait for the signs of dehydration to start drinking. Keep yourself and the kids drinking throughout the day. You both may need the reminder!

  • Water: Water will always be the top recommended choice. Bring a few reusable containers of water (with ice) from home. Ditch the plastic bottles they have unwanted chemicals, the water will heat up faster and they create more trash to clean up!
  • Make plain water more fun: add fruits like lemon or orange slices. Freeze berries in ice cube trays for some flavorful ice! Try cucumber and mint for a super refreshing combo!
  • Carbonated water:  Sparkling water or seltzer water is another great option which come in what seems like a million different varieties now.
  • Get water from fruits and veggies: Pack high water content fruits and veggies (watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe, celery, cucumbers etc.) and get some added water in with your snacks!

Healthy Beach Snacks Tips for Toddlers

Lastly, if you have some younger kids coming along prep ahead! Cut everything into the appropriate bite size pieces. Bring along the spill-free snack cups to they don’t dump everything into the sand (been there, watched that!). This is also a great time to utilize pouches. Yogurt, fruit and veggie combos they are all great beach friendly for the little ones. Make sure to have enough water and milk (keep ice cold!) in sippy or straw top cups for them as well.

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