When asked what his ideal day outdoors would be, Ibraheem Basir hardly skips a beat: He dreams of the sun and surf, and time with the people he loves most.
“I live in Los Angeles with my wife and two young daughters, a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old,” he says. “A weekend at the beach is one of our common activities that we do together.”
Basir’s love of family is reflected in every aspect of A Dozen Cousins, the heat-and-eat food brand of which he’s both founder and CEO. The packages of seasoned and refried beans or bone-broth-cooked rice become a quick side dish or an easy main in about a minute, either heated over a camp stove or in the microwave. The recipes are inspired by the Creole, Latin American and Caribbean food that filled his childhood home, and the company aims to provide an easy way for busy families to enjoy affordable, high-quality, healthy meals without spending a fortune (or hours over a stove). He chose the company’s name as a nod to the 11 cousins his first daughter had when she was born, celebrating his cherished relatives and the significance that food has always had for them.
Beyond that, Basir is also looking out for a different kind of “family”: Every year, A Dozen Cousins awards an annual grant along with volunteer support to nonprofit organizations that are addressing the health disparities that exist across socioeconomic lines in the United States.
We recently asked Basir to show us what he always packs for family outings. Here, he shares some of the things he and his family can’t leave home without, along with gear recommendations for a beach picnic of your own.
In search of a sun shelter that’s both light to carry and easy to set up, Basir and his family use a pop-up shelter tent from Ikea. “You don’t need any poles or strings or anything. You just kind of throw it out, and it opens itself out,” he says. The family uses the tent as their beach basecamp, where they keep their bags, snacks and other gear. “The kids know where they can come back to if they go play in the sand or throw around a ball or whatever. They have that home base.”
Get Outside Like Ibraheem: A lightweight pop-up shelter is a must for super-sunny days, and it offers kids a visible landmark as well as a place to chill within eyeshot of the waves. Unzip the front door on the Veer Basecamp Shelter to let in a breeze, or snap on the rain fly to protect from drizzle. After the day’s fun is done, the Basecamp folds down and cinches up like an umbrella and is easily portable with its attached carrying strap. $189 Buy here.
Soft Cooler Bag
After setting up a sandy home base, the next logical thing to do is have a snack, of course. Basir packs his family’s favorites in a YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler. “It almost feels like magic, to be honest,” he says. “It keeps stuff hot very well but also very cold. I’ve used it in both contexts depending on what the menu was.” Basir says the YETI will hold everything from freshly cooked chicken and rice to ice-cold cans of juice, and it’s easy to tote along even with kids in tow. “We’re a small family, so we don’t usually have occasion for a full hard cooler, but this one is great because I can just throw it on my shoulder and kind of use it as I want. $350 Buy here.
Being close to the water doesn’t count as getting hydrated, so Basir packs plenty of H2O for his crew to drink during the day. “I love cold water. That’s like one of my—well, I don’t know if I’d call water a vice, but I don’t like room-temperature or warm water,” he says with a smile. “To me, an ice-cold glass of water is great.” He fills a half-gallon jug from the brand RTIC in the morning, and it carries him through the day or through his time outside. Everyone in his family has their own water bottle, and he likes one with a handle that’s easy to carry.
Get Outside Like Ibraheem: Whether you like water cool or icy, the half-gallon Stanley IceFlow vacuum water jug will be your go-to hydration station for a day outside. Its double-wall vacuum insulation can keep water cold for up to 14 hours and hold ice in water for a maximum of 2.5 days. Its body contains recycled plastic material from fishing nets and is free from BPA. Plus, a leakproof flip straw makes for easy sipping. $52 Buy here.
Durable Puffy Blanket
What’s a picnic without a blanket? Basir says the Buffy Puffer Blanket his family brings along for their picnic does double duty: “We sometimes put it in front of the tent so that my 1-year-old has a little more space to crawl and play without getting in the sand. She’s still at an age where she’ll eat the sand, so it’s good to have a little bit of buffer.”
Get Outside Like Ibraheem: The Rumpl Original Puffy blanket is the perfect puffer buffer for curious kiddos. Rather than getting stuck between the fibers on a beach towel, sand easily flies off a puffy blanket with a quick shake. It’s also weather-resistant and can be thrown into a front-loading washing machine—two big bonuses with kids. $125 Buy here.
The Perfect Snack
For Basir’s family, a beach picnic wouldn’t be complete without something delicious from A Dozen Cousins to snack on. Basir’s brand creates nutrition-packed, heat-and-eat plant-based proteins and rice following recipes that draw from Caribbean, Creole and Latin American foodways. Trini Chickpea Curry, Creole Red Beans or Bone Broth Rice easily become a meal, while Refried Black or Pinto Beans can be a quick dip for tortilla chips. “I warm it up in advance, put it in the YETI cooler bag and have it as a lunch that’s fully ready to go,” Basir says. $3.95 Buy here.