National Picnic Week – Picnic Ideas for the Family

It’s officially summer time. Have we missed it being inside? Summer is an ideal time for many things…including PICNICS! I love having a picnic with Raffy, although he definitely gets more distracted eating outside! Anyone else? Anyway, whether we’re in lockdown or not, a picnic is something that can add a bit of fun to anyone’s mealtimes. You don’t have to go to the park – your garden or even your living room will do just fine.

This week it’s National Picnic Week – who knew!! So to celebrate I’m writing this blog to share some of my favourite picnic ideas and recipes with you all. I’ll also try to do more recipe posts for perfect ideas to take out with you across social!

Why picnic?

Picnics can be a really great way to inject a new bit of FUN into mealtimes. Especially if you, like everyone else on the planet right now, has got a bit fed up with being stuck indoors feeding the kids every day!

Picnics are a good way to change up the mealtime environment, give little ones something to look forward to or just add a little something new to your eating occasion – this in turn can often impact on how much they eat too. Picnics are also great to encourage the social aspect of eating – sitting together in the sun (we can hope!) and sharing foods whilst we chat. I also love the fact that picnics are often packed with variety – lots of different options for people to pick and choose from – this hands over some of the responsibility to your little ones, and allows them more independence over their food choices.

So get out your blanket, pack up a cool bag and picnic away this week for National Picnic Week.

What do you need?

Ultimately you don’t need anything other than food, especially if you’re at home picnicking or in your garden. However, if you’re out and about, there are a few things that might be helpful.

  • A large blanket to sit everyone on
  • A large cooler bag for the food, hopefully stocked with re-useable ice packs
  • Re-useable water bottles for everyone – freezing these the night before means you don’t even need ice packs!
  • Cutlery – I usually just shove a handful of standard knives, forks and teaspoons into the food bag!
  • Lunchboxes with lids for the foods.
  • Plates – If you’ve got some re-useable or recyclable ones that are easy to carry, these are ideal!
  • Napkins – for the inevitable clean up
  • Bags for waste – something to take your food and packaging waste home with you.

I may well have forgotten many things, I’m not the most organised of people so for me picnics tend to be a bit bish bash bosh and I simply shove what I can in a cooler bag!

Healthy Picnics?

You can easily still make your picnic lunches balanced and nutrient rich, if you want too. They don’t have to be all about crisps, cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks et al.

Try thinking about the different Food Groups and see if you can include a balance, so that your fun meal out still offers plenty in the way of nutrients and the variety that your little one needs. For example:

  • Starchy foods – breads, rolls, pittas, pasta salads, couscous dishes, potato salads (maybe not mayo ones!)
  • Fruit and Veggies – berries, veggie sticks, whole fruits, fresh fruit salads, stuffed peppers, veggie dips
  • Proteins – hummus, bean salads, fish sandwiches, sliced meat, chicken strips, peanut butter dips or spreads
  • Dairy or alternatives – cheese, yogurt (if you can keep it cool enough), cartons of milk or milk alternatives

Food ideas perfect for Picnics:

Here are some of my FAVOURITE ideas for a picnic. Don’t worry if you are a sandwich and piece of fruit picnic person either. That’s ABSOLUTELY OK. These are just some additional options if you want to make a bit more of your picnicking occasion!

  • Sandwiches with a variety of fillings:
    • Marmite
    • Peanut butter
    • Cheese salad
    • Tuna, salmon and meat such as chicken can go well
    • Don’t forget you can vary your bread type too – sliced, sourdough, rolls, pittas, wraps, English muffins, fruit bread – you name it!
  • Pasta salads with a variety of fillings. I love using pesto pasta and taking an avocado along to serve. However, tuna, chicken and tomato will work well too.
  • Fishcakes could be a winner, again as long as you can keep them nice and cool. Try my mini, fuss free options and serve with some veggie sticks and hummus dip for a little extra balance!
  • A quick frittata or pancakes can be helpful, especially if you have some stored in your freezer. Again you can take a yogurt/hummus dip for them or spread some nut butters on the top.
  • Crackers and Oatcakes are also great with a little cream cheese or peanut butter spread on top. You could also take some veggie dips and dip them in, like crisps!
  • Veggie Muffins are also perfect for out and about, try my recipe here
  • Baby scones are ideal for a picnic with some strawberries and cream – very British!
  • Summer Curry could even be a winner if you can keep it nice and cool in the cool bag
  • Mini Summer rollsthese are super simple to make in advance and are perfect to add some colour and variety to your picnic! Ideal for babies who have teeth and confident with finger foods
  • Pitta Pizzas are a great option too – make in advance and eat them cold –a perfect way to use up leftovers as toppings!
  • Banana bread – a filling and satisfying option and a perfect picnic finger food!

Below are some pictures of some of picnics with Raffy in the past to give you some inspiration

Food safety:

Finally, you might be wondering about food safety when taking food out and about. I’ve got a blog on food safety and reheating food, so if you’re unsure, check these out first. Wash your fruits and vegetables before packing them and ensure you’ve got plenty of ice packs to keep foods cool – and pack them back in once you’ve finished eating!

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