It’s one of the first things they teach you in Islander 101.
I’ve grown up on the beach my entire life. Therefore, I get to rightfully judge the oceanfront meals people try to produce from their overstuffed Igloo coolers. Or YETI coolers if they’re members of the bourgeoisie.
When you plan your trip, are you a PB&J person? A regular deli meat sandwich person? Or do you go for a chips and dip kind of vibe? Do you brave the wind and flex your portable grilling skills? Or are you like my father and choose to eat lunch before the beach in order to prevent unwanted sand in your sandwich?
Because I’ve spent most of my 22 years on earth by the ocean, I’ve experienced it all. From grilling up fajitas on the beach with my mom for the Fourth of July to taking a bucket of Food Lion fried chicken out for a beachfront dinner. You name it, I’ve done it.
In my not-so-humble opinion, the best way to prepare your beach snacks is to K.I.S.S.
KEEP. IT. SIMPLE. STUPID.
It’s just a little phrase we regularly reference in the ad industry and something I have come to live by.
If you’re thinking about packing that large Italian sub with all the onions, peppers, and drippy Italian dressing: rethink it. Sure it’ll be good but you’ll waste more time searching for napkins or wiping your face on your towel than actually enjoying it. And again, think about sand being a contributing factor to the messiness.
My ultimate go-to beach lunch is a no-fuss bologna sandwich. Just bologna, mustard, a Kraft cheese single, and classic white bread. Easy to eat and won’t weigh you, or your cooler, down.
But sometimes I like to mix it up. Now that I’m back home on the beach and slowing down to “island time” I have a little more time to think about what I want to take for my seaside snack. And going to the beach by yourself makes you want to put a little something special in there, just for you.
So this “different kind of beach sandwich” focuses on the thing you almost always seem to have in the fridge. Leftovers.
Today it was one sad little BBQ chicken thigh from dinner the other night. I took that little guy off the bone, took off his skin, and shredded him up in a little bowl.
Sorry didn’t mean for that to turn graphic there.
I thought about adding a little more sauce, but then I remembered my own crucial rule: Keep it simple stupid.
So I had my (slightly) dry shredded BBQ chicken along with one standard hamburger bun and a couple of thin slices of red onion. I was definitely channeling BBQ pizza flavors at this point.
Now just because I didn’t want to add any more Sweet Baby Ray’s to my sandwich, that didn’t mean I wanted something flavorless. I grabbed some Southern Butter (Duke’s Mayonaise) and some grainy deli mustard for a little something-something and slapped those two on each side of my buns.
Oh, now I’m getting a little raunchy.
I added a slice of mild cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of pepper and zipped it up in a ziplock bag.
Also: I’m currently looking for a good reusable plastic bag alternative if you have any suggestions!
So because I am the Sally Albright of pickles, ALWAYS on the side, I sliced up a fat deli pickle and threw a couple of slices in my cooler. Although I may or may not have made a game-time decision and thrown a couple of slices on my sandwich when I got the beach, just to add an extra crunch. 10/10 recommend doing this.
Ready for the beach I grabbed my water bottle, seltzer water (current fave: good & gather strawberry-mango), and some Trader Joe’s rolled chili-lime tortilla chips, a couple of ice packs to keep everything chilled and a cheeky Bud Light Lime as a treat.
Now do not come for me all you IPA craft beer sons-of-bitches. I’m one of you, I just really really love the taste of a Buddy Lime.
But my thoughts on beach libations will have to be its own post in the future. Along with what I think you should pack to accompany your beach food and drink. Hint: Pringle’s are the ultimate beach chip.
But I digress.
So with my current favorite playlist playing on my Bluetooth speaker, the August issue of Bon Appétit on my lap, and a GOOD amount of distance between me and the annoying families on either side of me, I’m able to enjoy a pretty peaceful beach day and a delicious beach sandwich.