The Best, Most Comprehensive Guide to Beach Eating–All the Tips and Tricks

People eating at the beach, unaware that danger lurks in the sunshine. (DAVID HANCOCK/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s summertime and everybody is going to the beach, which I despise. Not only do I hate taking my shirt off, but sand gets everywhere—especially the food.

The beach is no place for anything truly delicious; catastrophe can happen at any moment. I’d rather drink soup from a thermos on a 100-degree day at the beach before I risk destroying a perfectly good rotisserie chicken there.

I think Bob Dylan put it best:

How many roasts must be destroyed, on a child’s sprint through the sand?/ How many fries does the grey gull steal, from an unsuspecting hand?/ Yes, ‘n how much mayo has gone bad in the sun, while the owner goes to tan?

The answer, my friend, is too much to frickin’ count.

In order to get the most out of your meal, here are some helpful tips for safe beach eating:

Wash your hands like you’re about to do surgery

This is less about—actually not at all about—cleanliness, and more about the fact that a couple loose grains of sand, no matter how small, can ruin an entire meal. Heck, if you want to wear a hazmat suit, know you have my full support.  

Don’t bring chips, grapes, or anything in a big bag

Sand always seems to show up uninvited–the proverbial inlaws of the mineral family. You walk home one day, and they’re sitting 90s sitcom style in your living room, and then they stay for weeks, nagging your every move. The next time I go to the beach I’m bringing one of those TV trays to eat off of, to keep my food high and away from the ground.

Keep your food locked down

Get a cooler with a lid seal, or maybe even one with a lock. If you need to rope off an eight-square-foot buffer around it to deter people from getting too close, nobody will judge you. In fact, I’ll even recommend this stanchion and red velvet rope set. “It’s so expensive!” you may say. I say: too many coolers have been kicked over by kids running to and from the water to risk it. What happens when some jerk walks by with his nose in his phone and knocks all your meticulously prepared BLTs into the sand? Get the damn rope.

The most prepared man at this beach. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By the way, invest in a good cooler

Mayonnaise is in everything, and few things are grosser than hot mayo. Don’t go overboard with the ice in the cooler, though, since the only thing worse than hot mayo is soggy bread. You need to achieve absolute balance with this step. Some people do yoga to align their chakras and whatnot. I find inner peace by obtaining the perfect cooler temperature.  

Always, always, always eat before you go in the water

I remember hanging out at my friend’s pool when I was a young lad. I hopped out of the water to eat a couple crackers, and before I could cannonball back in, his mom set an egg timer for 30 minutes and told me to sit in a chair so I didn’t drown from the stomach cramps. So, in an attempt to spread my spite for her throughout the entire world, I recommend you just get in there.  

Very Important Special Section About Seagulls

Sand might be annoying, but it doesn’t come close to the flying pestilences that are seagulls. The dirty thieves are the worst of all food ruiners because they seem so pleasant at first, like a bully who knows a teacher is near. They sit and hang out calmly for a minute. Then, as soon as you get used to their presence, they start grabbing food out of your goddamn hand, usually right in front of one of those “don’t feed the seagulls” signs.

A true monster. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The worst part is gulls keep the same cold, unblinking, expression the entire time they’re fleecing you. They are the Botox people of the animal kingdom. You can’t tell if they’re excited to be eating, or if stealing your food is fulfilling some sort of obligation they have to Satan.

Luckily for all of us, I have spent years studying this unholy foe, and have come up with some foolproof ways to combat them:

  1.     Have one person keep guard while everybody else eats. Ideally, the guard will be wearing Hulk Hands, screaming and flailing wildly at passing gulls. You do not need to hit them, just cause a commotion. The downside is this might just cause more sand issues.
  2.     Bang two trash can lids together for the duration of your meal. If people get annoyed, gently remind them that you’re doing the entire beach a favor. It might be a good idea to bring some safety earmuffs like people who go to drag races put on their babies. 
  3.     Get some decoy food to put near somebody else while you eat in safety. A couple slices of subpar pizza should work.
  4.     You might think bringing a scarecrow would get the job done, but a) gulls would probably just perch on it to get a better angle for their dives, and b) they’re not scared of people, so they’re not going to be scared of a fake person. Which means you can always just…
  5.     Eat in the bathroom—it’s almost like giving up, but not quite.

Honestly though, skip the beach and go to a movie or something. Hang out in the AC and have a real meal. Movie theaters have those now!

The Best, Most Comprehensive Guide to Beach Eating–All the Tips and Tricks