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Pack a lunch and head for the shore. A trip to the beach may not cost a thing, but the memories will be priceless.

Fun and free activities for Summer

Who says summer excitement has to be expensive? Take advantage of the warm weather to get outdoors for alfresco activities….

1. Bring a dish to the park
Get friends to pitch in and plan ahead so dishes aren’t duplicated. Line a cooler with plenty of ice packs to keep perishable foods chilled and safe to eat. If you’re bringing raw meat for barbecuing, transport it in its own plastic container (for extra flavour add marinade), placing it in the bottom of the cooler with a layer of ice packs above and below—then be sure not to reuse that container for the cooked food or anything else until you can wash it thoroughly with soap and hot water. Fill additional containers with sliced fresh veggies and fruit, prepared salads and store-bought pastries for dessert.

2. Catch a movie or a play in the great outdoors
Many communities offer movie screenings, concerts or live theatre performances in the park. Round up the kids (or hire a sitter and have a grownups’ night out), and bring a blanket. Because these performances often begin at nightfall, they tend to call for snacks, not dinner. Divide popcorn, chips, fruit or other snacks into single-serving plastic containers, so each person can enjoy his or her own.

3. Hit the beach
Summer just wouldn’t be complete without a day at the beach. A cooler full of chilled treats is just the solution for an afternoon in the hot sun and sand. Freeze some grapes and cubed watermelon the night before: place them in a single layer on plates, so the cubes don’t freeze together, then transfer into plastic containers the next morning. You’ll leave less waste behind if you bring drinks in refillable bottles. Pour in water—don’t fill to the top so it has room to expand—and freeze overnight with the lid off. Top it off with more water the next day. Stash sunscreen in the cooler too, so every touch -up is an opportunity to cool off.

4. Hike to a scenic picnic spot
Break out the hiking sandals and hit a nature trail. Your reward? Family fun and fitness, of course. Oh, and a yummy picnic with a beautiful view. Carry a lightweight cooler stocked with fuel for the trek—a loaf of crusty bread, and plastic containers filled with cold cuts, sliced fresh fruit, cheeses and roasted veggies (save time by buying them readymade at the deli). Smaller containers are the ideal size to hold savoury accoutrements like olives, cornichons, pâté or spreads like hummus. Each hiker can carry his or her own drinks in convenient chug bottles.

5. Camp out under the stars
Pitch a tent in the back yard for a no-travel camping adventure. For a truly authentic experience, prepare all of your “rations” ahead of time and avoid trips back and forth to the kitchen. A backyard fire pit can stand in for a traditional twigs and stones campfire.