Basic criteria for anything that you would want to have at a picnic is something that is either easy to assemble at the venue, or something that travels well. It is also a very good idea to include as many non-perishable food items as possible. Another piece of advice is to put things on the menu that taste great, but are simple to make. You are trying to have a fun day, after all, so the stress should be as minimal as possible. Here is a list of my favorite picnic recipes.
Bean Nacho dip:
1 can of honey baked beans
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup of cream cheese
1 bag of nachos
This is something that a friend of mine taught me how to make during my birthday party. In a plastic microwaveable container, pour the beans into the bottom of the container, and then spoon a layer of cream cheese on top. Microwave uncovered for 20 seconds, then sprinkle the dip with the cheddar cheese and microwave for 30 seconds or until cheese has melted. Let the dip cool for a minute, then seal the container with its top. Serve with nachos. Since this is a dish that has dairy in it, it is advisable to serve it immediately upon arriving at your destination so that the heat won’t spoil it. This also applies to the cheese and meat platter.
Cheese and cracker platter:
Cubed cheese (something hard like cheddar and Swiss)
Meat of your choice (such as slices of pepperoni, salami, and ham)
Fruit (likes grapes and strawberries)
This is a very simple and obvious plate, which means less work and more fun. All you have to do is put the meat and cheese in the cooler and when you get to your picnic spot, arrange all of the ingredients nicely on a platter so that the picnic celebrants can pick and choose what they want.
1 can chickpeas
½ cup black, pitted olives
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
paprika and salt to taste
Serve with pita bread
Put the chickpeas, olives, olive oil, and lemon juice into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour into a plastic container and sprinkle with paprika and salt according to your liking. This can be served either hot or cold.
Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad :
1 bag of lettuce
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup croutons
1 bottle of strawberry vinaigrette (found in most supermarkets like Harris Teeter and Keyfood)
Here’s the trick to making a picnic salad: keep the vegetables in a container separate from the dressing until they’re ready to serve, otherwise the leaves will wilt and if you have croutons in there they’ll get all soggy. My advice is to use vinaigrette since vinegar-based dressing does not need to be stored in cold temperature. It also helps that my favorite salad dressing is strawberry vinaigrette, which is named so not because it contains strawberries, but because it tastes amazing drizzled on them. You could include quartered strawberries in your salad, but I prefer them on their own with said dressing. Even though this is my favorite salad, it works well as a summer picnic recipe because all of the ingredients can stand heat.
S’mores trail mix:
1 box of golden grahams
2 cups of mini chocolate chips
2 cups of mini marshmallows
This is another one of those simple picnic recipes, but who doesn’t love s’mores and what is an outdoor adventure without some trail mix? You can get the best of both worlds by mixing the ingredients and storing them in a large zip-loc bag.
Pack the perishable ingredients (meat and cheese) into a cooler. If you want to save space, freeze the drinks you plan on bringing an hour or two before you get going. Cans and juice boxes will save space in the cooler if you plan on freezing them. That way, these drinks will also serve as ice packs.