This summer, pack picnic food for lunch or dinner. Read on for delicious recipes you can use to create on-the-go meal plans, feeding happy people, and keeping the kitchen clean.
It's summertime. That means eating outside, and while watermelon and snacks go a long way, sometimes you still need a meal. Picnic recipes need to be crowd-pleasing and easy to grill or pack. I also require quick prep for my picnic menu because when six people need sunscreen applied, my cooking time is limited.
Read on for some easy picnic food ideas for the pool, beach, park, or even backyard.
The name of the game is simplicity. You don't want something you'll have to hear up, nor anything that needs to stay icy cold. You don't want anything with a delicate construction (think tacos). That being said, salads, sandwiches, and one-dish meals are going to be your best friend. Chicken salad, lunch meat roll-ups, egg salad, and dry snack foods are all good options.
Salads are easy to prep and transport. While potato salad, egg salad, and fruit salad all make great sides, the right salad can be the main course. Especially if it's loaded with tasty vegetables and proteins. Here are some of my picnic favorites.
Shauna posted about this easy-to-make recipe on her Facebook page years ago, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. Raw corn! Finally! Here's all you need: 6 ears of raw corn cut off the cob, halved grape tomatoes, crumbled feta, cut cucumber, minced red onion, salt, and pepper.
Yes. That's IT: perfect picnic menu item, make-ahead, family-friendly, and a colorful crowd-pleaser. You didn't even have to cook the corn.
This picnic pasta salad does double-time as the main dish, as it includes everything you could need for any meal, ever. Use this picnic idea for the kid who just wants to load up on cheese balls. Eat this first, and then let him loose. It's summer!
This is a yummy and light recipe that can be easily modified for picky eaters!
a few seconds
macaroni (or pasta of choice) (cooked according to package directions and cooled)
sharp cheddar cheese
thawed frozen peas
pitted black olives
diced dill pickle
salt and pepper (to taste)
Picnic Pasta Salad
Combine pasta, cheese, salami, peas, olives, celery, onion, and pickles in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir into pasta mixture, then cover.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until served.
Chickpeas are full of protein and perfect for a light, summer salad to take along with you. These hearty beans are versatile, tasty, and easy to prep. This chopped Greek chickpea salad recipe comes together in 20 minutes or less. Its packed with Mediterranean flavors, chickpeas, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives, and a light lemon juice dressing. Chickpea salad is great on picnic sandwiches, too!
Berries are a great addition to a summer salad, especially when they're fresh and in season. Try a power berry spinach salad loaded with delicious sweet berries, baby spinach, sliced almonds, and crumbles of feta or blue cheese. Then toss it with a homemade sweet and tangy raspberry vinaigrette! Yum!
You have to please the masses, and sometimes those masses are picky. Here are some kid-friendly picnic food recipes that your kiddos will enjoy.
Pizza isn't the easiest to transport, but if you pack these ingredients, the kids can construct them themselves when they get to the picnic. I love a gross motor activity combined with a no-cook meal. That means more time I get to relax and sip my iced tea. Bring along a container filled with cherry tomatoes, sticks of string cheese cut in three sections, pepperoni slices, and Sabra pizza hummus singles for dipping. If your kid is adventurous and likes more variety in pizza toppings (like olives) pack those, too!
Most kids love old-fashioned corndogs, and what's not to love? These bit-size mini-muffin versions are so much easier to transport. While you can make the batter from scratch, you can just as easily use a box mix like Jiffy. After pouring your batter into the muffin pan, put one-inch pieces of lil' smokies into the center of each muffin and bake.
Do your kids love tacos, but struggle with the inevitable taco collapse that happens mid-bite? With these adorable mini hand pies, they get all the same flavors in a much more picnic-friendly way. Use a boxed pie crust, cut into 3-inch circles, fill with black beans, cooked meat, and cheese, then top with another circle. Press the edges with a fork to seal, brush with an egg wash, then bake!
So...you're planning a romantic meal al fresco, huh? Skip the fried chicken and bbq baby back ribs, your sweetheart will appreciate it. Start with a big picnic basket, a soft blanket (that you are able to wash in case of spills), a cooler or ice to keep your food or beverages chilled, and all the right cutlery and utensils. Don't forget some wet wipes, too, so you can tidy up after your outdoor meal.
If you're looking for picnic food ideas, pick something light, but filling. Try charcuterie with an array of meats, crackers, dried fruit, cheeses, bread, and antipasto bite-sized appetizers. Bring fruits like grapes or strawberries. Have popcorn or a baguette to share. Bring sparkling wine for some refreshment, too!
Want to grill but tired of burgers? Kabobs are easy to prep and pack. Wholesome Foodie Mom on the Street Amy Rains recently posted a new twist on classic kabobs, using the delightful summertime taste blend of pineapple and shrimp.
And wait - what's this? Is this even possible? These Loaded Picnic Waffle Fries could be enough to bring all the joy to Summer 2020. You cook this miracle on a grill in an aluminum pan. Once the pan is licked clean, you toss it. Dinner and clean-up done. Happiness achieved.
But if you want to arrive at the picnic or pool with grab-and-go finger food, try a wrap or sandwich recipe. This cobb salad wrap sandwich is a winner for all the picnic food groups.
Chicken avocado roll-ups use a mayo-free chicken salad for a pre-made, pre-wrapped, one-handed dinner.
But if your dinner crew is one of the highest culinary tastes...give them homemade uncrustables. Peanut butter and jelly hits the spot in the summer, and you can do your own ahead of time, freeze, and with less sugar. So they are primed for the popsicles.
Fruits and Veggies are a must for every meal. So how do we make them more festive for an outside event? One magic word: dip. As in this Farm Stand Fruit Dip, gluten-free, made with cream cheese and marshmallow cream. Keep the fruit coming!
Dessert outside in the summer can be as easy as fudge pops. (And really, what is better?) But if you want to make a sweet-it's-summer statement, go for the Dirt Cake. People just don't make this enough. And it's so thrilling when it appears. Let's, together, make More Dirt Cake a goal.
Poolside Party Fluff had me at the name. There are a million ways you can vary this recipe to please your Fluff Eaters, i.e., more chocolate, less coconut, all the fun.
Summertime is time to be out - out of the kitchen, house, and out of the water just long enough to grab some yummy food. Hot dogs and potato salad are only the beginning. Get creative with what you pack in the cooler! Enjoy the flavors of pools and summer picnics all season long.