HOW TO PLAN A FUN AND ECO-FRIENDLY BEACH BBQ
SUN, SAND, THE SEA BREEZE, AND THE SMOKY SMELL OF MEAT SIZZLING ON THE GRILL – ARE YOU READY FOR THE PERFECT SUMMER DAY?
When you live in San Diego, some of the best summer memories happen on the beach. And one of the best ways to have a fun beach day is to plan a beach barbecue. But did you know that a typical barbecue for four people emits more greenhouse gas than an 80-mile car trip? Luckily, with a little bit of planning, you can still have an awesome beach barbecue and minimize your impact on the environment. From packing your supplies to cleaning up at the end of the day, we’ll walk you through everything you need to consider. Get ready to make fun summer memories!
SMART TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL, SUSTAINABLE BEACH BBQ
1. WHEN CHOOSING A BEACH, DO YOUR RESEARCH
The first step in planning a beach barbecue is to decide where to have it. Different beaches can offer unique experiences. For instance, Mission Bay is very family-friendly with playgrounds and picnic areas, while Windansea Beach in La Jolla has powerful waves that are great for surfing. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the regulations for barbecuing at your chosen beach. Each beach may have unique policies. It’s important to double check the rules, even if you think they might be the same between beaches. It’s also a good idea to stay up to date on the weather forecast. If you plan on going in the water, check the swimming conditions in advance. Most beaches have a website where they keep this information updated.
2. CREATE A BBQ GRAB BAG
“Let’s go to the beach!” Living in San Diego, it’s easy to find yourself in a moment where you decide to have a spontaneous beach day. This is when it comes in handy to have a grab bag, pre-prepared with all of your beach barbecue essentials. Creating a grab bag is a good way to make sure you keep your barbecue waste-free.
ECO-FRIENDLY BBQ GRAB BAG SUPPLIES:
- The Grill (think portable with a lid – consider sustainable options such as a gas grill or solar-powered cooker)
- Plant-based Charcoal or Firelogs (compared to regular wood logs, firelogs produce less emissions)
- Beach Blanket
- Reusable Plates and Utensils (such as wooden plates and lightweight silverware)
- Cloth Napkins (instead of paper)
- Water (in a stainless steel container to cut back on plastic bottles)
- Biodegradable Sunscreen
- Hand Sanitizer
- Tin Foil
- BBQ Tongs
- Grill Brush (for cleaning the grill)
- Meat Thermometer
- Stainless Steel Kabobs (for grilling produce or making s’mores!)
- Mini Sauces
- Bucket (for cooling the BBQ and transporting dirty reusables home)
- Swimsuits (if you want to swim)
Consider visiting your favorite Goodwill store to see what grab bag supplies you can find for less! After grabbing your bag, grab food and prepare a cooler for meats and/or cold foods. I suggest making sure you always have a good supply of ice in your freezer. You can fill your cooler with ice from home, instead of buying big plastic bags of ice from the store. You’ll save money, and reduce waste.
3. KEEP YOUR MENU SIMPLE
When at the beach, it’s best to avoid grilling foods that will be messy or time-consuming. Kabobs are a good option because they’re fast and easy to cook. Consider investing in a set of stainless steel skewers for grilling produce such as potatoes, zucchini, onions, and peppers. You’ll use the skewers again and again. Kids can have fun helping with the assembly of food on the skewers, and even in the cooking process. Fish is a good, quick option. It can be easy to overcook, so just keep in mind that it takes less time than burgers or sausage. Overall, try your best to avoid foods that come in plastic packaging. For both types of meat and produce, you can check out your local farmer’s market for healthier, low-cost options with better flavor. For meats and cold foods, make sure you’re keeping them in the cooler with plenty of ice until it’s time to cook. The last thing you want is to spoil your beach day with food poisoning!
4. PLAN AHEAD FOR BEACH GAMES
My personal favorite is the time spent playing games with family and friends. Especially if you have kids, you’ll want to think ahead about what games they might enjoy and plan accordingly. I’ve always been a big fan of frisbee golf. For this game, you’ll need a few frisbees (one for each player) and various targets. The targets can be items you brought to the beach (such as towels or buckets). Players will attempt to throw their frisbees as close to the targets as they can. Another fun game is limbo. Two people will hold the ends of a limbo stick (you might use a pool noodle). Each player will try to bend under the stick with their backs facing the sand. The bar is lowered with each round. Other classic beach games include beach volleyball, parachute games, or hopscotch in the sand. The most important thing is to make sure everyone is having fun and taking a break when needed!
5. CLEAN UP NICELY
When it’s time to pack up and go home, make sure to leave the beach how you found it. If you used a grill, wipe off the grate with a grill brush. Make sure it cools down before transporting it. If you had a fire pit, douse the flames and make sure your coals or fire logs have cooled before disposing of them. Never leave coals sitting in the sand because it holds in heat, and you wouldn’t want someone to accidentally step on your coals. One advantage of reusable utensils is you won’t have to pick up so much trash when the barbecue is over. You can simply put all of your reusables in a bucket to take home. Once you’re home, fill the bucket with water to easily wash the residue off all utensils. Having them all in one bucket also makes the dish-washing process easier.
HAVE FUN THIS SUMMER AND TAKE CARE OF THE EARTH
The beach is a special place where you can make memories to last a lifetime. In order to enjoy the beauty of the beach, it’s up to us to play a positive role in taking care of our planet. We hope you enjoy a beach day filled with sun, sand, and amazing food!