I absolutely LOVE the beach! My happiest place is sitting in the sand playing with my kids while listening to the waves roll in the background. Luckily I have three children that love it too. One thing that caught me off guard the first few times we went to the beach was how often someone asked for something to eat. The fresh air and extra activity took their already fast metabolisms off the charts! By trial and error, I have come up with a strategy that works really well. Here are my top tips.
- Start the day with a filling breakfast for everyone before leaving. This way everyone is nourished and ready for whatever the day may hold. I like to serve Peanut Butter Oatmeal or Avocado Toast and Eggs before a beach day.
- Plan ahead and pack lots of food the night before. I find that kids can be put into two categories…those with big appetites in the fresh air and those who are distracted by playing at the beach and eat very little. Be ready for both with healthy snacks for the car ride there and back, as well as lots of food for at the beach. Here are a few tips as you prepare:
- Focus on energy-rich and protein-rich foods so that they fill up on foods that will keep them full as long as possible.
- Remember to bring a cooler with ice packs to keep things cool. When serving food, try to prioritize serving the most perishable options first.
- Take an empty container for each child that you can portion their food into when they are ready to eat. Do so in small quantities though. That way if it gets dumped into the sand, you have not lost a whole meal.
Here are some ideas of food to pack:
- Whole apples or apple slices (these are best eaten earlier in the day before going brown)
- Fresh fruit medley: grapes (halved for anyone under three years age), strawberries (cut into bite size pieces), melon chunks, blueberries, and blackberries…these can all be together or have their own container.
- Wean Green with veggies in it: cucumber slices, pepper spears of chunks, baby carrots, snap peas, and baby tomatoes cut in half with a container of hummus for dipping
- Pita triangles (these can be whole grain pitas and/or breakfast pitas) and /or Bagel chunks (cut a bagel in half and then into 6 or 7 pieces)…these can both be dipped into hummus as well or into natural peanut or almond butter.
- Whole grain crackers
- Cheese strings or cheese chunks
- Yogurt tubes
- Smoothies put into the re-usable pouch or store bought fruit puree pouches
- Whole grain wraps spread with peanut butter, rolled, and cut into three of four pieces
- Sandwich fixings: wraps of bread on their own and small containers of mayo, mustard, leftover chicken or turkey, lettuce, diced tomato, etc. that you can assemble at the beach)
- Trail mix: dry cereal (ie. cheerios or shreddies) with dried fruit, and nuts / seeds
- Applesauce pouches
- Welo bars, FreeYumm bars, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars, MadeGood Bars, and Kashi Bars
3. Reduce the chance of food loss to the sand or the birds. I like to find a specific spot that food can be and insist that lids stay on all containers other than when the kids are ready to eat. I ask them to wipe their hands as best possible on the towel (this is hit or miss) and then offer small amounts in their container when they ask. As I mentioned above, this prevents you from losing your whole container of apples if they accidentally dump what they are eating into the sand. I also remind them to watch for birds and never feed the bird or throw food to the birds. Once a bird has been fed, it will likely not leave you alone. Wes had a bird take a piece of food from his hand one year, so since then, they have been pretty compliant with this request! But remember that no matter how prepared you are, things will happen. Such is life at the beach!
4. Remember when you are packing food for the day that you need to eat too! Pack enough that you can enjoy snacks throughout the day too. I know that my energy and patience level drop fast when I am hungry or thirsty…perhaps you can relate! So to make it a fun day for everyone, don’t forget to nourish yourself too!
5. Speaking of being thirsty….remember to take lots of water! Dehydration at the beach on a hot day can happen quite quickly as children may not think to ask for water. Ensure that each child (and you too) have a water bottle that is out and visible. Don’t be afraid to remind your children to take a drink every once in a while. Setting a timer can work well for this too.\
6. Have a healthy and easy supper that you can serve soon after getting home. Beach days are amazing, but take a toll on everyone’s energy level. You will likely all be hungry for supper when arriving home. Don’t feel that the evening meal needs to be elaborate. One of my favourite options is to have cooked chicken breasts already cooked in the fridge that I can dice up and serve on a salad plate with cut up veggies and pita wedges. This creates a complete and healthy supper and can be ready within minutes of walking in the door.
7. Last but not least…early to bed for all! Your kids could need up to an extra hour of sleep from a full day at the beach. Don’t be afraid to encourage an earlier bed time for them (and yourself too) to prevent tired melt downs that evening or the following day. Remember food offers children nourishment to grow, but most of the actual growing (both physically and mentally) happens when they are sleeping!
I hope this gives you some new ideas of ways for you and your kids to stay healthy and energized at the beach this summer. Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy August full of family fun!