As we head into the summer months here in Myrtle Beach, I know our family is going to be doing a lot of our eating outdoors. From grilling out to casual dinners on the porch, summer in the south is the perfect time to take meals outside. One of favorite ways to take advantage of the beautiful beach destination we call home is to pack a picnic for the beach. Before children, my husband and I enjoyed a more ‘upscale’ beach picnic experience. We’d take our fancy picnic basket, complete with cheese board and formal utensils, for an oceanfront dinner. In fact, you can see what we used for our beach picnic dates in this video.

But picnicking looks a little different these days. More goldfish crackers and less time for plated food but still just as much fun. Whether you’re planning a picnic as a date with your significant other or a family picnic, here are a few things you’re going to want to keep in mind:

Have the Right Gear

When picnicking with just my husband, I always bring our basket. There isn’t anyone to distract us from our meal (so we can eat fairly quickly once we get set up) and therefore we aren’t as worried about cooler insulation. If we’re going with my extended family, we always pack a full size cooler with lots of space for food and freezer packs to keep things cold. If I’m headed to the beach with just the boys, usually an insulated cooler bag is best to bring along and plenty big. Packing everything in the right gear makes everything so much easier! Also some things you won’t want to forget: extra utensils, extra cups, sturdy paper plates and plenty of napkins. Also lots of frozen cooler packs, as you can never be too careful.

Have the Right Food

Obviously we can’t tell you what you like to eat, but we can share from experience a few things that work best for a beach picnic. If picnicking with children in tow, the answer is handheld food. Sandwiches, fruit, chips, cookies… if you can eat it without utensils, you will have made your life easier. When we picnic without kids in tow, we get a little more creative. We love pasta salads, quiche, and wraps or pita pockets when we’re on our own. Also, food that needs to be kept very hot or very cold is probably best kept at home.

Have the Right Attitude

Sometimes drinks leak. Sometimes sandwiches get smushed. And if you’re picnicking on the beach, there will most definitely be sand making its way into some of the food. Eating outdoors means accepting that there will be a lot of variables you wouldn’t encounter if you stayed home. But you don’t have a view of the ocean from home, either.

Play it Safe

You’ll want to make sure that whatever you’re packing has cooled before you pack it up. Also remember you can’t have too many freezer packs on hand. Things warm up more quickly in South Carolina sunshine that you might imagine, and you’ll want to toss out anything prepared that hasn’t been eaten within two hours to avoid any food poisoning possibilities.

Lastly, maybe think about taking your picnic somewhere off the beach as well. The Myrtle Beach area is home to a number of parks and places perfect for picnics: Myrtle Beach State Park, Huntington Beach State Park, the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, Brookgreen Gardens and The Market Common all have great picnic spots. Bon appetit!