A picnic is a great way to spend a summer day outside with friends, family, and food. See our suggestions for fun, delicious, and easy picnic food ideas here.
A picnic is an affordable, easy, and fun way to spend some time outside with the family. Packing a picnic lunch just takes a few minutes, and with our guidance, we can make sure you pack the best foods for your al fresco meal! Let’s get packing.
What are the best picnic foods?
The best picnic foods are, in our opinion, foods that don’t require forks or other utensils. It just makes packing a picnic so much simpler and saves a lot of space in the cooler.
However, we won’t deny that we love a good pasta salad. Just remember to pack small dishes and utensils to serve up whatever might need them. Or, pack individual servings in small mason jars. Then, all you have to do is pop off the lids and grab a fork or spoon!
What should I not bring on a picnic?
In general, you don’t want to pack anything that requires a lot of assembly, like tacos, or that needs to be served hot, like tuna casserole. Super messy dishes aren’t ideal, either.
If you are packing in a cooler or insulated basket, you have a lot of flexibility with what you pack. But if your picnic basket isn’t insulated, avoid foods that will melt in the heat (like chocolate) or that could become unsafe if they get too warm too fast (looking at you, egg salad).
How to pack a perfect picnic
Skip the basket.
Picnic baskets look adorable, but they do nothing for keeping your food cold. Plus, they can be clunky and unorganized. Instead, try a basket-style cooler. We use one that is insulated, easy to carry, and collapses flat when not in use.
Keep it clean.
Nobody wants to eat directly off the ground, so remember to bring a picnic blanket to lay out the food spread and to sit on. If you know that picnic tables will be available, you may want to pack a waterproof tablecloth.
Keep it simple.
You don’t need to pack anything fancy for a picnic. Simple finger foods and snacks combine to make a perfectly satisfying and tasty picnic. But if you want to bring plates and utensils, we have ideas for pasta salads and other fork-requiring foods below too!
Don’t forget the drinks!
Whether you just want to grab a water bottle for each person, or step it up with something fancier, don’t forget to bring something to drink.
Don’t forget to pick up after yourself at the end! Pack a small plastic grocery bag to gather wrappers, napkins, and other trash when you’re done, in case there isn’t a trash can around.
What are some good picnic food ideas?
Best Picnic Food Ideas
A picnic is a great way to spend a summer day outside with friends, family, and food. See our suggestions of fun, delicious, and easy picnic food ideas here.
Sandwiches are a picnic classic for good reason—they are portable, utensils-free, and endlessly customizable. Peanut butter, ham, tuna salad...you have so many options when it comes to sandwiches! This beginner-friendly sandwich bread recipe is so easy, anyone can do it!
This Avocado Tuna Salad with creamy avocado, crunchy cucumbers and heart-healthy fish provides a delicious, satisfying lunch. If you're packing this up for a picnic, treat the avocado with lemon or lime juice to keep it from oxidizing.
This Mediterranean Lentil Salad gets better as it sits in the fridge and the flavors meld, making it perfect for meal prepping. Leave out the feta if you don't do dairy, and it will still be just as delicious!
Want to take your summer picnic to the next level? Fill up some mason jar with this simple strawberry lemonade, screw on the lid tight, and stash them in your picnic basket or cooler. Now you’ve got yourself the most refreshing picnic beverage on the planet!
Cassie is a holistic nutritionist, cookbook author, and all-around food lover. She grew up cooking dinner with her parents every evening, and her passion for home cooking has been strong ever since. Cassie is the author of two published cookbooks (Cooking with Greek Yogurt and Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My!) and dozens of recipes published in major magazines and newspapers. Cassie has been sharing her award-winning recipes on Wholefully since 2010. She loves dark chocolate, homegrown tomatoes, motorsports, and anything that sparkles. She lives in Indiana with her family on a small homestead.