Photo: James River Media

On Snackle Boxes

There’s something magical about eating grapes and cheese on a checkered blanket. After all, a picnic is just a casual meal…with a view! Portability is key when packing food for a day at the beach or on the boat, and divided food containers are a versatile and convenient way to prepare and enjoy your snacks. They are designed to compartmentalize and carry different food items conveniently. For your next day on the lake, go all-in on the theme and offer your companions a treat from a “snackle box.” 

What is a snackle box?
What started as a “parenting hack” for serving Goldfish® crackers and Teddy Grahams® to backseat riders in a minivan has now become an adult’s portable gourmet snacking smorgasbord. Inspired by Bento® boxes — traditional Japanese food boxes with various compartments that allow different types of food to be neatly separated within the same container — creators on Pinterest and TikTok have figured out a way to make charcuterie to-go by packing a fishing-tackle box. But, instead of holding hooks, lures and bobbers, they fill them with cheese, crackers and other easy-to-eat treats. Search online for the hashtag #SnackleBox, and you’ll find endless recipes, suggestions and recommendations for customizing your own. 

How to create a snackle box
While the idea is certainly clever and visually appealing, there are concerns about packing food in a container intended to organize fishing gear. Chief among these concerns: 

  • Is the plastic food-safe? 
  • What’s the best way to keep the food properly chilled? 
  • How do you clean a snackle box? 

Rather than taking a literal interpretation of the snackle box idea and shopping for your portable food container in the sporting goods aisle, your best bet is to use a stainless steel or food-grade plastic or silicone divided container (because “glass” and “outside” don’t always work well together). How can you tell if a plastic container is food-safe? Flip it over and check the recycling numbers. The safest plastic containers for food will show the numbers 1, 2, 4 or 5. This indicates the plastic is “BPA-free.” Soft, flexible and cloudy plastic containers are less likely to contain BPA, an industrial chemical that can seep into your food and beverages. 

Keep your snackle box in an insulated, ice-filled cooler to further enhance food safety. 

As for washing up afterward, look for containers that have removable dividers. They will allow more flexibility in customizing the nooks for different shaped and sized goodies, and it will be so much easier to clean! And, of course, good food safety includes washing your hands and using utensils for shared foods. So, pack some hand sanitizing wipes and consider making smaller, individual snack boxes for each person in your party. 

Photos: James River Media

Treats to reel in your guests
After formulating a plan to keep your goodie boxes properly chilled and out of the sun, it’s time to prepare some bite-sized noshes. Balance your food offerings and try to include fruits, veggies, proteins, whole grains and some sweet treats. Here are a few ways to tackle the job and lure your companions in to enjoy an afternoon snack: 

  • Classic Charcuterie: Cheese, crackers, nuts, dried fruits, cornichon pickles and dried meats like salami and pepperoni 
  • Mediterranean Munchies: Hummus and veggies: carrots, cucumbers, celery, baby bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and olives 
  • Sliders and Pinwheels: Avoid using mayo on these mini-sandwiches. 
  • Veggie Sushi Rolls: Cucumbers and carrots hold up well, but the avocado might turn slightly brown. It will still be tasty, though! 
  • Trail Mix: Nuts, dried fruits, yogurt-covered raisins and granola 
  • Ants on a Log: Pretzel rods or celery stuffed with peanut butter and dotted with raisins or chocolate chips are old-fashioned lunch box staples. 
  • Fan-favorite Fruits: Apples and grapes won’t get as mushy as fragile fruits like bananas, berries and peaches. To keep apple slices from turning brown, soak them in lemon or orange juice or a citrusy soda pop for a few minutes. Melon chunks are a summertime staple but prone to making a watery mess. It’s probably best to give them their own container. 

With an eye on portion control and convenience, plus the ability to customize for dietary needs, a snackle box is a clever way to organize your snacks for an outdoor day. Whether spending a day on the boat or road-tripping across America, divided food containers offer versatility and visual appeal for your traveling treats.