Sunday, April 10, 2011

Easy Picnic Ideas

We had our first picnic today! It's so nice that picnic weather is finally starting to arrive. I love that food prep is minimal and clean up is simple. I keep a few things on hand at all times so that we can run to the park for a picnic whenever the mood strikes. I also know a few quick and easy places to get great, healthy picnic food.
Easy picnic ideas
My Easy Picnic Tips:
  • First, find something to designate as your picnic basket. It can be a real picnic basket, a big cooler bag, a canvas tote, basically anything that is big enough and easy to carry.
  • Then, keep that picnic basket stocked with the basics.
  • Designate a spot in the pantry for picnic grab and go items.
  • Make a list of favorite picnic menus to keep handy.
  • Make sure you have a small cooler available to carry cold items.
Easy picnic ideas
The Basics
  • Table clothe or throw
  • Reusable, nonbreakable tableware or paper products (plates, utensils, cups)
  • Napkins/paper towels
  • Straws
  • Hand wipes
  • A few Ziploc bags
  • Small trash bag
  • Sunscreen, bug spray
Easy picnic ideas

Grab and Go Items

easy picnic ideas
  • Variety of easy drinks- waters, juice boxes, milk boxes, bottled lemonades, teas, or sodas, easy open wine (only if we're walking to the destination), etc.
easy picnic ideas
  • Fun crackers (I like the Pepperidge Farm entertaining quartet or Carr's crackers). The kids like these by themselves or you can pair them with a favorite cheese.
  • Condiments-salt/pepper, ketchup, mustard, pickles, olives, etc.
  • Chips or other snacks

*Menu Ideas*-This is probably the one biggest thing that keeps picnics easy for me. If you ask me to throw a meal together quickly, I can, but I usually blank for a minute. Add that to the pressure of "kids tugging at your apron strings" and I'll arrive at the park with something along the lines of cheetos and water. I keep several menus written out and in the basket. The menus are meant to be healthy, fun, portable, and can come from one store.

 Breakfast with the Family-
  • Milk or juice boxes for the kids, Starbucks bottled coffee for mom and dad
  • Fresh strawberries or other fruit
  • Tube yogurts
  • Pastries (there is a bakery in our neighborhood, so I just swing in there)
  • Other options are assorted cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and homemade breakfast sandwiches.
Lunch at the Park-
Option 1- Raid the pantry and fridge (I usually have these items on hand)
  • Tuna fish or pb&j sandwiches
  • Pickles and olives
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Fresh fruit or veggies
  • Drinks
  • Ice
Option 2- Run into Whole Foods or stop by a sandwich shop
  • Fresh sliced fruit and veggies
  • Sandwich wraps or pinwheel sandwiches
  • Pasta salad
  • Pretzels or baked chips
  • Brownies or chocolate chip cookies
  • Assorted drinks
  • Ice
easy picnic ideas
Dinner at the Park-
Option 1
Believe it or not, pizza is a fun evening picnic idea for our family.  I just throw some drinks in our basket and pick up a pizza and salad from our local shop on the way to the park and I'm done. 

Option 2
Baked, grilled, or rotisserie Chicken
Caprese salad
Corn on the cob
Strawberry short cake
easy picnic ideas
Places to Have a Picnic
Your own backyard
Parks and playgrounds
The beach
Arboretums and botanical gardens
Scenic locations
Historic sites
Museum lawns

These lists are meant to be simple and quick tips for an impromptu picnic.  Certainly, you can up the quaintness factor by having some preplanning, flowers, candles, pretty tableware, chichi food etc.

Do you have any tips to add? 


Tanya said...

It's not quite picnic weather here yet, but I'm hoping to get the boys out for several picnic lunches at the park next month. Sounds so quaint and saves me some kitchen cleanup!

melody-mae said...

I am here from boost your blog and must say I love the idea of having the picnic all ready in the pantry like that. My daughters are all grown but I do babysit my grandson twice a week and when our weather here gets better, I love this idea of being ready!!! :) sweet blog.

abeachcottage said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing them. Love the menu ideas too!

Sherri said...

Great tips!
I absolutely love picnics...they are so fun...We turn everything into a I should plan a real one! =0

Mama Pea Pod said...

Great tips! Our family loves picnics (we had our first of the season about a month ago - froze our butts off, though!), and in the warmer seasons we often have them nearly every day at the playground. I love your idea of having everything pre-stocked and pre-packed in the picnic basket. Why hadn't I thought of that before?!

Raising a Happy Child said...

I love reading your blog - you have everything laid out so beautifully. We need to get more in the habit of bringing more than water and some dried fruit with us.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

This looks like an awesome picnic! The foods is amazing.

We have a gate at the top of the stairs to keep JDaniel from falling. I guess it keeps him upstairs too.

Brimful Curiosities said...

That's an excellent idea to keep menus handy in the picnic basket.

Harvey Yeldell said...

Don't forget to prepare some fun activities for the kids, too. They love playing games after eating, and it would be nice to bring your dog if you have. A water-based insect repellent is a must-have, too.

Hilary said...

Thank you for the menu ideas!!!! Choosing what to serve (that isn't the same old thing, but is easy to throw together) is the hardest part for me. I love your black and white picnic basket. For night time picnics I bring glow stick necklaces (available at the dollar spot at Target) and mini flashlights for the kids when the sun goes down.

Kelly said...

Thanks for the nice comments! I love all your ideas and tips too. Hillary, glow sticks are so fun. My kids have "expiration" times, so we're rarely out after dark, but I'm going to add them to the basket anyway! Harvey, my kids would love it if we had a dog to take on a picnic! One day...

Elle Belles Bows said...

Love this post!!

I am definitely read for a picnic! They have Shakespeare in the Park in our town and it is fun to pack a dinner, chill out, and let the little one run on the lawn.

Thanks for all the wonderful menu ideas! I have never tried a morning picnic but may give it a try now!


phasejumper said...

Fun! I need to plan to have picnics more often!

Messy Kids said...

Kids just love picnics! You've made it easy by including menu ideas and a checklist of things to take. Great post and thank you for sharing on It's Playtime!

Rachele @ Messy Kids

Rose said...

We love picnics too. A lot of our picnics happen in our back yard but we also enjoy going to the park. Great tips.

Rachel said...

My kids absolutely love picnics - thanks for a great go-to list of ideas. Found you through It's Playtime.

Bona Fide Mama said...

What a great post! We actually have last minute pot lucks with friends at the park pretty frequently. Also, yes, pizza is a great dinner at the park option for us as well :)

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

What a great list. We love picnics too and they are perfect for spending time outdoors as a family :)

Cathy James said...

We're heading to the beach tomorrow for a picnic - thanks for the ideas!

Cindy said...

Love the idea of keeping your menus with your picnic basket! And great menu selections too! Thanks for the inspiration! We love brunch picnics with muffins and fruit, and for the first time this week, we had an ice cream picnic at the park with waffle cone bowls, pints of ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, syrup and a can of whipped cream! It was fun to have an out of the ordinary picnic!