A Southerner Wouldn't Head to the Beach Without These Groceries
A beach trip calls for food that's as easy and breezy as the setting. Because even if you're staying somewhere with a fully stocked kitchen, you don't want to spend any more time inside than necessary. There's relaxing to be done!
For my family, lunch at the beach usually looks like packing a picnic or running up to the house for a quick bite of leftovers. And though we love cooking (even on vacation), no one ever wants to leave the beach early to fix dinner, as that would mean missing out on our favorite time of day there—the early evening when the crowd heads out and it finally starts to quiet down. We've solved this problem with quick dinners like pasta night or tacos. (If you're driving, don't underestimate the power of make-ahead-and-freeze dishes. We always love a lasagna or enchiladas to pop in the oven.) From easy suppers to all the sandwich fixings, this grocery list full of Southern staples will keep your kitchen stocked and your barefoot beachgoers well fed—without cutting into precious time on the sand.
All the Sandwich Fixings
Whether you're heading inside for a little AC or packing a lunch cooler, it's hard to go wrong with a sandwich. Be sure to add your favorite ingredients to your shopping list. If you're checking mine, it would include a few loaves of bread (there's something about a sub on the beach for me), turkey or ham, a variety of cheeses, lettuce, pickles, chicken salad, peanut butter & jelly, and bacon for BLT's.
Fresh Fruits & Veggies
It's practically a Southern tradition to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies from a roadside stand on your way to the coast. Fill your bag with sweet corn for salsa, summer squash for grilled veggie kabobs, and juicy tomatoes for BLTs. And you can't drive away without a bucket of ripe peaches.
It tastes as good hot as it does cold, and it doesn't require any utensils. Deli fried chicken (we're partial to Publix fried chicken with its crispy, craggy skin and juicy meat) makes a perfect hand-held beach snack. Grab a container of potato salad and a bag of those sweet, squishy Hawaiian rolls, and you've got dinner covered too.
There's no finer (or easier) cocktail-hour snack than a bowl of boiled peanuts, but when you're on vacation, even boiling water seems like a lot of effort. Most Southern supermarkets carry bags of boiled peanuts in the produce section. Or better yet, hit up a roadside stand for a few freshly boiled pounds.
This might be the first item on your grocery list, and rightfully so. No beach trip is complete without some sort of cheese-and-cracker combination, and you can't do much better than a tub of pimiento cheese and a few sleeves of Saltines (or Club crackers, if you're into something more buttery).
Having something crunchy to snack on is of the upmost importance, and our cart never leaves the store without a least five chip varieties: Try Miss Vickie's jalapeño chips for a kick, salt & vinegar for a punch, and plain Lay's for a classic crunch. And don't forget tortilla chips to go with the salsa!
You'll always keep a hungry beach crowd happy with a few dips on hand. Add hummus (and carrots), salsa, and French onion dip to the grocery list. Or whip up a fresh batch of Texas Caviar with your farm-stand produce.
Summer is watermelon season, and Southern-grown watermelons always taste sweeter. Keep your eyes peeled for fresh-from-the-farm varieties at roadside stands, or save time and grab some pre-cut at the store.
They may not garner as much fanfare as watermelon and peaches, but grapes still deserve a spot in your beach cooler. Pop them in the freezer for an extra-cold snack on a hot summer afternoon.
For a refreshing drink or a fizzy cocktail mixer, don't forget to snag a few cases of Topo Chico or La Croix. You'll be ready to make a Texas ranch water when 5 o'clock (or noon... we're at the beach, after all!) rolls around.
Good, Cold Beer
Grab your favorite beer in an aluminum bottle. The tops screw back on to prevent spills, plus you can pack them in the cooler for your beach day (many places have ordinances that outlaw glass on the beach). Or skip your usual and buy a 6-pack of a craft brew to sample the local flavor.
Sweet Tea and Lemonade
It's as essential as bottled water and maybe even more refreshing. Grab a jug of each—Milo's if they have it. For happy hour, try a Spiked Arnold Palmer.
Cookies and Ice Cream
Ice cream sandwiches aren't a Southern thing, per se, but no beach trip would be complete without some sort of frozen treat. Pick up a pint of your favorite Ben & Jerry's or Blue Bell flavor and soft cookies from the local bakery, and build homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert. It's a fun summertime tradition you'll want to repeat back home.
We're not sure if popsicles at the beach are a bigger hit with the kids or the adults, but you'll want to stock the freezer and the cooler with them. They're a good way to chill out (and keep the little ones happy) during a long afternoon in the sand.
We've cracked the code: Paper plates and disposable cups might be the key to a hassle-free vacation. Aside from making cleanup quick and painless, they have the nostalgia factor too: There's something about a paper plate meal that just feels like summer.