Some of my fondest childhood memories are the all-day beach days we would have during the summer while I was young. We'd spend hours collecting shells, playing in the waves and the rest of the world seemed to disappear. Of course there was plenty of snacking too.

So much has changed since that time, yet so much remains the same. I am thrilled to continue to spend most summer days at the beach. Now having a two year old (and one on the way), the amount of luggage that must accompany us to the beach is comical. Towels, sunscreen, sand toys, umbrellas, changes of clothes, hats, chairs, the list goes on and on. But, perhaps one of the most important things to remember to bring for my family is a variety of food and plenty of water.

I'm not sure about you, but the beaches near me leave something to be desired in terms of healthy food options, so packing a lunch and lots of snacks is a must. I think at 9 months pregnant, my toddler and I have a similar round-the-clock snacking schedule. We love our Keepin' Fresh bento boxes for packing up loads of nutritious food options for the beach. The stainless steel containers keep cold food chilled and the tight lids do double duty keeping sand and seagulls out of our lunch. I also find that kids seem to be more open to trying new foods when picnicking outside of the house, especially when busy and distracted by the mesmerizing bustle of the ocean and people-watching.

What a gift to be able to enjoy food, friends and family while listening to the crashing waves and digging in the sand. At the end of the day, we are happy to not leave any trash behind as we leave our special beach. As I lug all of the bags and toys home, I'm happy knowing that I've passed on a tradition of spending time outdoors, enjoying and respecting nature.

Photo: © via