Whether lounging at the beach or grilling in your own backyard, we’re sharing the 411 to Build A Better Cooler! We’re taking you through our favorite (travel-proof) foods and drinks made for all your summer adventures.

Packing your cooler with a variety of fresh, frozen, and dried fruits and veggies gives variety and options for all palates!

Tasty, portable snacks are a MUST! That said, knowing what to pack for the beach (or backyard) can be tricky when space is limited. We’re breaking down our favorite sweet, salty, and family-friendly options to keep everyone fed and happy. Here’s our guide to Build A Better Cooler:

Smart Snacks

Fresh fruits and veggies are outdoor snack staples! Summertime favorites like watermelon, cucumbers, berries, peppers, and peaches, are comprised of 90% or more water, making them perfect, hydrating choices. In addition to their high water content, fruits and vegetables also contain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to fuel your activity. Not to mention, they are delicious and fun to eat!

Slice, chop, and prep fresh produce the night before and pop into reusable storage containers. Easy to peel and scoop options like mandarins and kiwifruit make other easy options. If traveling with babies or toddlers, consider creating a separate container with smaller pieces just for them. 100% fruit and/or veggie children’s pouches can make another mess-free and convenient option for little ones.

Pack tasty dips like hummus, salsa, and salad dressing to add flavor! And remember to pack silverware or toothpicks, in the case of sandy hands!

For fun: create fruit and veggie kabobs! Enlist the family’s help building them and enjoy on beach day for a fun and mess-free beach snack!

Staying Hydrated

Water reigns king when it comes to staying hydrated but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Infusing water with sliced fruit and herbs can be an easy and delicious way to upgrade your beverage. Start with simple combinations like basil and strawberry or raspberry and lime and then experiment to find your favorite mix!

Like some bubbles? There are so many great brands making infused sparkling water these days! Enjoy on their own or use as a base for your infused water creations. If you like a touch of sweet, add a few splashes of 100% juice to the mix as well!

Don’t forget the pops! Popsicles can be another fun, cool, and tasty way to stay hydrated. Look for varieties made from fruit and water or you can even make your own!

Infused water is easy to make and fun to drink! Add your favorite fruits and herbs to regular or sparkling water for delicious hydration!

Dried Fruits & Veggies

Dried and freeze-dried fruits and veggies are fun, convenient, and travel well! Options like prunes, dates, and raisins provide potassium, fiber, and quick energy for little, moving bodies. Prunes in particular contain sun-protective phytochemicals, which may help prevent sun damage!

If you’ve got extra berries on hand, you can even make your own fruit leather!

For those who like a little crunch, freeze-dried strawberries and bananas can offer a sweet snack while dried carrots and peas can satisfy the savory. Of course, we can’t forget about popcorn – one of our all-time favorites and totally beach-friendly!

Portable Proteins

Arguably one of the more challenging foods to make beach-friendly, are proteins! We opt for primarily plant-based options like nuts, nut butters, seeds, and crispy chickpeas which don’t require refrigeration or reheating. Lentil, chickpea, and whole grain pastas are great alternatives that also offer more protein and fiber than traditional pasta. We love making a big batch of pasta salad with bell peppers, pepperoncinis, olives, mozzarella, and a zesty vinaigrette for a quick and tasty beach lunch.

String cheese, homemade turkey jerky, and rotisserie chicken are other easy proteins that make easy snacks or additions to wraps or sandwiches.

Building Memories

While food is fun (and certainly, one of our FAVORITE things to talk about), it’s important to remember what the day is all about! Beyond the perfectly curated coolers and Instagram-worthy snacks, it all comes down to time together as a family.

In full disclosure, on our recent (and socially distant) beach day, I FORGOT TO PACK our large tupperware of pasta salad! As in, our lunch for the day, left, sitting in our fridge, at home. But you know what? The day was still perfect! We shared blueberries and half-melted popsicles on sandy beach towels, built sandcastles, crashed the Tahoe waves together, and made memories to last a lifetime.

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