Summer is the time to take lunch (or dinner) on the road! Whether you’re heading to the park, spending the day on the lake, or taking the whole weekend for camping, a picnic basket or cooler full of nutritious, energy-fueling food is essential. Try these ideas for fun (and quick) foods plus picnic packing hacks to keep everyone happy and well fed.
Picnic Food That's Easy to Assemble and Pack.
Sandwiches have always been the go-to for a picnic but sandwich wraps are actually easier to pack and keep from getting squished and soggy. Anything goes with a wrap – just a layer it in like this to avoid soggy, slipping ingredients:
Layer #1 (obviously): a large tortilla – choose whole grain or try spinach or roasted tomato
Layer #2: Greens – cover the entire tortilla with this layer (it keeps the sauce from soaking into the tortilla).
Layer #3: Sauce – go with traditional mayo or spice it up with horseradish, Sriracha, or chimichurri. Spread thinly over the greens.
Layer #4: Extras – here’s where you add your special touch. Anything goes! Try chopped onions, olives, peppers, pickled veggies, cheese, luncheon meat, or even berries.
Roll it all up tightly and wrap or tie. Once they’re all made, place together in a container or bag for a layer of protection. You can also slice each roll-up on the diagonal and serve on a plate.
Now Add Side Dishes.
If you load up on the veggies in your rollup, you get to add chips and goodies as extras! Try some tasty chips or premade potato salad or coleslaw. Cut up fresh fruit, berries, or grapes and package in a separate container. Don’t forget dessert! Try cookies or slices of pound cake with fresh fruit or smores if you’re able to cook out.
Load up on beverages and bottled water and you’re ready for a day away.
Pack an Environmentally Friendly Picnic
Avoid single-use plastic utensils and plates or bowls. Try to pack paper products that can be recycled or, better yet, buy an inexpensive camp set of metal dishes that can be washed and reused over and over. Look for reusable beeswax wrappers and cloth sandwich bags (sold at most whole food stores).
You know you must keep your food cool! You can do double duty by planning ahead – just freeze water bottles filled with fresh water. They’ll cool everything down and as it thaws; you’ll have cold drinking water. Throw in a few powdered drink mixers for flavor. Frozen bottles are also nice because they can be positioned throughout the cooler to keep everything cools and as the ice melts, it won’t seep into your food.
For an extra layer of protection from melting ice: put a cookie cooling rack over the bottom layer of ice (or frozen water bottles) and then lay your food on the rack. It holds them up off the bottom as the water pools.
Bring along something to cover your eating surface – a picnic blanket, a tablecloth, or if picnicking somewhere with tables, a fitted Twin sheet usually covers most tables (and won’t blow away in the wind),
Of course, handwashing is always important. Try this easy idea we’ve been using for camping. Take an empty laundry detergent container with spout and rinse it out (it’s okay if some soap residue is left). Refill it with water and set in the sun (or your warm car). Attach a roll of paper towel to the top with bungee cords; bring along hand soap, use some of your melted water for rinsing, and you have a portable handwashing station.
If you can find them these days, hand sanitizer and baby wipes also work well. Use hook-and-loop sticky strips to attach to the inside lid of your cooler. These strips also work well for a plastic bag filled with utensils, napkins, or bug spray.
Make an inner second lid that keeps food extra cool. Use an insulated windshield sun protector and cut it to fit the top of your cooler. Just lay on top of the filled cooler and when opened, you only need to peel back half, keeping the cool in the other half. For this to work, remember to pack your cooler in zones – food on one half, drinks on the other so you know which side to look in and can quickly access the contents. Just like the fridge, staring into a cooler with the lid open lets out all the cold air.
Of course, we have the snacks to fill out your picnic! Browse our Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Dairy-Free Options here.