The purpose of going on a picnic and bringing picnic foods is to enjoy a day away from home.
It’s about bringing the indoors outside under the sun and perhaps near the beach or other body of water.
Heck, even a splash pad works for a day of splashing and picnic foods to finish up the excursion.
We’ve packed picnic foods numerous times while attending splash pads around our city.
You don’t have to bring big pots and burners to make pasta, lobster and other posh foods.
Picnic foods should be simple and delicious comfort food paired with healthy snacks.
Some Of The Best Picnic Foods Are Homemade
During the heat of summer if you spot a picnic area you’ll likely uncover a trendy food truck with delicious and unique foods that are hard to resist even if the costs are more than you budgeted for.
Fresh smells of summer foods are everywhere so you either pay for your meals on the go or save money and pack simple picnic food to get you by for the day.
Although I’m a fan of food truck creations some of the best picnic food dishes will be homemade and fit nicely into your grocery budget.
Chicken recipes are popular picnic foods such as;
Growing up picnic foods included chicken or fish recipe that was simple for my mum to make.
Chicken has long since been the go-to picnic food because it’s inexpensive compared to beef and it’s delicious eaten hot or cold.
Two Canadian Budget Binder readers share their favourite Picnic Foods.
Christine W– I just take salads like potato and macaroni in a cooler with ice packs…cookies of some sort. Lots of drinks in the heat!!
Pat C– I like veggies and dip, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, pickles, crackers, sunflower/pumpkin seeds and fruit. Lots of flavored water. My favorite is cucumber mint.
Family Beach Time
My wife recalls going on many trips with her family to the beach in the summer from a young age.
Her family would always eat picnic foods pre-made at home and dad brought the charcoal grill.
She explained to me that, “It was a cheap staycation away from home in the same city for us to relax”.
Packing Up The Truck
Her father was in charge of the flame so he would load the charcoal BBQ on the back of the truck, bag of charcoal, and starter fluid along with any other outdoor necessities.
Into the truck went the fold-out lawn chairs, picnic blanket, beach ball, swimming gear, towels, and other necessities for the beach.
It was an exciting time for her family as they didn’t have a pool in their backyard and camping was never part of their family getaways.
This was like a trip away from home even though the beach was just down the road from their house.
A Day Of Picnic Foods and Fun Without Technology
There were no technology distractions just family fun whether it be swimming, finding seashells, building sandcastles, burying each other, looking for treasures and, making memories.
Related: This is cool learn How to make charcoal and how it works. It’s all about the Science.
Her mother would be busy in the kitchen washing out the big blue Coleman cooler and preparing juicy steaks in marinade, sandwiches, salads, snacks, and other cultural side dishes.
As well, in a separate cooler, she would pack juice and lots of water for an entire day at the beach.
Since their beach trip a full-day event that also meant she needed a picnic lunch and a picnic dinner.
Of all the picnic food ideas I will share there is one that probably wouldn’t stand the cooler and that’s ice cream.
However, if you plan to eat freezies or ice-cream in an hour or two and have lots of packed ice you could still get away with it.
If my wife’s parents splurged at the beach food counter it would always be for ice cream or fresh-cut French fries.
You can enjoy the food vibes of the beach when you are having a picnic but unless you want to spend the day eating food from vendors and trucks.
Packing your own picnic foods is ideal and economical for anyone on a budget or tight on cash.
As the sun went down a large bag of marshmallows came out with long skewers to roast on the grill with what was left of the sparkling charcoal.
“It was always a memorable time for us and I smile just thinking about it”, says Mrs.CBB who wants to create the same memories for our little family.
Picnic Foods And Recipes 101
Depending on the occasion you can also ask guests to bring certain foods that they’ve made at home.
What lots of people do is create a picnic food pot-luck perhaps with a theme which is a great idea.
Apart from food, you’ll need something to drink and lots of it for a hot, sunny day.
No picnic is complete without a stocked ice cooler filled with juice, water, pop with beer, and wine is permitted.
Today I’m going to share with you some of the best picnic foods so you’re not paying a fortune eating out on park food.
Buckle up…here we go. Let’s start with dessert first!
Picnic Foods – Desserts
Right from the start, I’m going to say no picnic is ever complete without fudgy brownies.
Yes, you must pack homemade brownies for everyone, besides they are easy to travel with.
They are rich, creamy, and perfect to end a meal or snack on and you won’t need a plate.
Other picnic desserts that might grab your attention;
Picnic Foods For Kids
Not all kids like to eat steak, pork chops and seafood when at a picnic so it’s important to pack picnic foods for kids that appeal to them.
Make sure to have plenty of snack picnic foods such as;
- Juice boxes
- Water Cooler, Water Jug
- Flavoured Waters
- Water enhancers
- Frozen Yogurt Tubes make a great treat
- Cheese Strings
If your kids enjoy cultural foods that you make at home by all means pack those dishes as well.
In the UK the scotch egg is very popular because it’s easy to make and we grew up on them.
Packing scotch eggs would be a picnic food snack from my mum when we went to the sea for the day.
Healthy Picnic Foods
Eating healthy picnic foods keeps everyone fueled and awake for the day instead of sluggish.
The important thing to remember is to have balance in your diet.
Another thing to consider is that not everyone’s diet is the same, so some guests may bring food specifically for themselves.
Besides summer fresh picnic salads, you can also pack an antipasto tray known as a charcuterie board with deli meats, olives, cheese, peppers, and other pickled foods.
Check out this secret fruit salad but I’m not telling what the secret is. It sure looks delicious.
Fruity Picnic Foods
Packing your cooler with fresh fruits makes travel easier when transporting to a picnic site.
- Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, etc.
Simple Vegetable Picnic Foods To Pack
Every picnic should include a variety of cut-up vegetables that are healthy to snack on.
Typically we pre-wash and cut up vegetables and put them in a large Tupperware container.
Some of our favourite vegetables to pack for a picnic are from our garden, grocery store, or a local market in our community.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Cucumber slices
- Red peppers, Green Peppers and Yellow Peppers
- Whole Mushrooms
- Cauliflower Florets
- Broccoli Florets
Dips To Pack For A Picnic In The Park
- Garlic Avocado Dip
- Taco Dip Surprise made from homemade taco seasoning (it’s so easy to make)
- Walnut Basil Pesto Dip – Add Mayo
- Garlic Parmesan Bacon Dip
- Avocado Blue Cheese Dip
- Jalapeno Ranch Dressing or any other kind of dressing homemade or store-bought
- Roasted Garlic Hummus
- Queso Dip
- Easy Ranch Dressing
Keto Picnic Foods
Skip the rich desserts and pack homemade granola bars for a picnic dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you are on a special diet regime then bring along the foods that you enjoy.
This means to make them ahead of time, label them and ensure they are ready when you are.
Mrs. CBB is on a keto diet and her meals use specific ingredients so it would be important for her to plan her picnic foods accordingly.
Two of her favourite keto dessert recipes:
- Oopsie Bread which can be made into pizza or used for sandwiches
Picnic Snacks and Desserts
Just about everyone loads up on junk food snacks when they pack picnic foods.
- 5 ingredient peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
- Mixed Nuts, Raisins, Yogurt Drops, Craisins
- Zucchini Chips
- Pepperoni Chips
- Date Squares
- Key Lime Pie Dip with Graham Crackers – Shaken Together Life
Best Picnic Foods For A Light Lunch
- Yogurt cups
- Cottage cheese
- Cheddar Cheese or any other kind of cheese
- Pepperoni Sticks
- Sliced Kolbassa
- Olives – All Varieties
- Dill Pickles
- Crackers with peanut butter
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cold Cheesy Pizza Buns and Homemade Pizza
Personally, when time permits I like making homemade pita then cutting it into triangles and baking it a second time.
Finger Picnic Foods
Everyone likes to pick at a picnic so having finger foods on the table for grazing is the best way to keep everyone entertained with food.
Some of our favourite picnic foods recipes at Canadian Budget Binder are;
- Sausage Rolls
- Twice Baked Potato Skins
- Spring Rolls
- Crustless Cheesy Quiche
- Scotch Eggs
- Pasta Frittata
- Cherry Tomato and Parmesan Galettes
Picnic Salads and Side-Dishes
You can also stretch chicken or fish to make large portion recipes of picnic foods for big groups by adding pasta, vegetables, and cheeses.
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Cucumber with Feta Cheese and Dill Salad
- Italian Tomato Salad
- Deviled-Egg Pasta Salad
- Creamy Bacon Tomato Salad
- Three Bean Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Cucumber and Radish Salad
I’m not a big fan of cold steak myself as I find it gets tough and chewy and not appetizing at all.
Good picnic foods can be eaten hot or cold and handle well in a cooler packed with ice for hours.
Side-Dish Picnic Foods Recipes
- Pineapple rice
- Caprese Salad Party Dish
- Potato Waffles
- Spanish Potato Tortilla
- Pasta Sausage Frittata
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Layer Salad – Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen
More people are choosing to eat healthier foods and making better choices and salads cut.
With salads, you can also pack the dressing separately however, if you plan to make dressing pack it in a mason jar, shake and dress the salad before you want to serve it.
Picnic Foods: Sandwich Recipes
Popcorn chicken salad lettuce wraps are easy to make and transport on the go to your picnic site.
We love bringing sandwich triangles to snack on in between swimming, kicking the soccer ball around, playing volleyball, lawn bowling, hide and seek, and running around the playground.
Keeping active when you are at a picnic or beach is a great way to build up an appetite.
Some of our favourite sandwich picnic foods are;
- Tuna sandwiches
- Vegan Hummus Sandwich
- Monte Cristo sandwiches
- Veggie Turkey and Cream Cheese Bagel Sandwich
- Prosciutto and Brie with roasted red pepper sandwiches
- Egg Salad sandwiches
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps
- Peanut Butter and Banana Monkey Wrap
Be Picnic Ready With The Essentials
Take some time to plan your picnic by preparing a picnic menu plan, a grocery shopping list, and all the picnic essentials.
Taste of Home has some awesome tips for the perfect picnic including how to pack picnic foods.
A quick trip to the dollar store or Amazon Canada will net you just about anything you need for a picnic.
Picnic Essentials List
- Beach Toys and gadgets
- Plastic Picnic Table Cloth
- Beach Towels
- Water Shoes
- Beach Chairs or Lounge Chairs
- Flip Flops
- Beach Tent or Umbrella
- Plastic cutlery
- Paper Plates
- Coleman 70L Cooler
- Picnic Basket
- Beach Blanket
- Sports – Volleyball, Football, Soccer Ball, Bocce Balls
- Containers to pack and store your picnic foods
- Plastic cups or reusable water bottles for drinks
- Metal Straws
- Bug Spray
- Sunscreen for kids and adults
- Plastic large bowls with lids
- Condiments such as ketchup and mustard and relish (Homemade relish is good too as is sweet corn relish)
- BBQ Essentials such as tongs, metal spatula, beer can chicken rack, BBQ fluid, Charcoal, lighter
- Apron for the BBQ Chef
- Hand Sanitizer
- Baby Wipes or other wipes
- Paper Towel or Tea towels
- Large Garbage bag just in case the picnic area does not have a garbage bin available
- Toilet Paper (you never know)
- Extra Clothing
- Swimming essentials such as bathing suits, goggles, and safety gear, etc.
Packing picnic foods and preparing for a day in the park or at a beach is a fun day away from home.
Discussion: What picnic foods do you like? If I missed a picnic essential comment below and I’ll add it to the list above.
Enjoy your picnic.