Those of you who know me, know that I live in Malta; an island blessed with sun and sea. I am a sun worshiper and certainly try to make the most of my summer. Days spent at the beach call for picnic food and today I thought I’d share some ideas to help make it easy for you, especially if you have young kids.
San Blas Gozo (Malta)
Ideas for beach picnic food
As many of you know, the Maltese summers can get very hot and it is no surprise if temperatures climb close to 40C and beyond. In such high temperatures, I prefer keeping things simple and like to avoid foods (such as meats) which spoil easily in the heat.
The Maltese ftira is typical of picnic food in Malta. It is quick and easy to make and keeps nice and fresh. I prefer opening the canned tuna at the beach and adding it to the ftira, just before serving. Once canned tuna is open, it should not be left to stand in the heat for a long time.
2. Rice / pasta / quinoa salad
Another very quick and easy option is salads. I opt for cold pasta, rice or quinoa-based salads cause they keep better than leaf salads in the heat. They can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge overnight, making life easy in the morning. Again, if you are adding tuna to your salad, I would suggest adding it just before serving. Add the dressing when you’re ready to serve your salad.
One quick and healthy snacking option is cutting up veg into sticks and serving them with hummus. I would avoid cheese or tuna dips at the beach.
4. Raw or roasted nuts
Nuts are very nutritious and make an excellent snack at the beach. However, if you have little children, I can never over-emphasise how careful you have to be.
5. Fresh fruit
Cool, fresh fruit is very refreshing at the beach. Keep the fruit whole, so that it keeps its shape and does not lose its juices. Opt for smaller fruit, such as plums, apples, peaches or nectarines. If you would like to take a chilled melon or water melon, cut it up at the beach.
Tips to remember
1. A picnic cooler is a must in hot weather. Ideally, you have one cooler for drinks and another for your food. The drinks bag is likely to be opened frequently, letting in warm air which may spoil your food.
2. Pack your cooler correctly. Remember, cold air sinks. For your food to keep cool, put your ice packs on top of your lunch boxes.
3. Pack your food in individual containers to make your life easier at the beach. It is easier for you to hand out a lunch box and disposable cutlery (if necessary) than having to dish out food at the beach. Sandy beaches are fun but you will not be happy if you end up with sand in your food and drink!
4. Freeze bottles of water overnight so you have a supply of cool water throughout the day. Keeping well hydrated in very hot temperatures is key.
5. Last but not least, I would like to suggest you take a little plastic bag to collect all your rubbish and tip it in the bins before you leave the beach or once you get home. If the rubbish bin is a track away from where you are, you do not want to keep coming and going.
I hope you find some of these tips and ideas useful. If you have suggestions of your own, which you’d like to share, please leave a comment.
Enjoy your summer and keep safe …