Meeting someone for a special occasion or gathering to eat with a group of friend at the park calls for finger foods, skewers, and pita pockets.
Throw in some wine or chilled cocktails, and you have a party.

Picnic food is very diverse and extremely fun to put together. There are so many dishes, cuisines, and themes you can use to help you organise the picnic you wish.

Holders and containers

Most picnic food goes in a bowl, other food, sandwich box, or bag. The rest often goes on something like a hot dog stick or corn cob holders. Toothpicks are one of the easiest things to pack in a picnic basket because you can pick up 50 or 100 and use them as silverware if you want. Tortilla shells, pitas, bread bowls, and vegetables are excellent for putting food into to serve.

Typical picnic foods

  • Beverages
  • Salads – potato, pasta, and vegetable
  • Frozen treats
  • Wraps
  • Desserts
  • Fruit or bread bowls
  • Cheese and meat trays
  • Vegetable skewers
  • Wine and cocktails
  • Muffins and cupcakes
  • Finger sandwiches
  • Soups and sauces

How do you choose a few things with so many ideas?

One of the quickest ways to choose what to make for your picnic is to go with a theme. For example, vegetarian, classic American, French, fresh picnic foods, or pair your selections with the beverages you want to bring. For instance, dark wines go better with dark meat and earthy foods, so opt for steak wraps, baked beans, chocolate desserts, and fruits like cherry, raspberry, and strawberry. If you are planning a party for a holiday, then the easiest picnic foods are the traditional items people love.

Holiday example-Fourth of July

  • Fried chicken
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Potato or three bean salad
  • Apple pie
  • Beer or frozen cocktails
  • Homemade moonpies
  • Smores
  • Blueberry and strawberries on yellow cake topped with whipped cream
  • Watermelon

Select picnic foods according to daily activities

What are you planning to do before and after your picnic? If you are planning something active, you may not want a heavy meal with breaded chicken and potatoes topped with mayonnaise. Instead, you could assemble easy picnic foods that include fresh fruits and veggies with lean meat on skewers or stuffed pita pockets with lots of spinach and turkey.

Make ahead menu options

There are wonderful salads with fruit or vegetables that you can assemble earlier in the day and refrigerate until time to leave. For example, a three bean or taco salad tastes much better after the flavors spend a little time marinating in the refrigerator. Pudding and creme pies, jello, yogurt, and ice cream all need to stay cold. You can make these foods up a day or two early to save time on picnic day. Veggie kabobs, quiche muffins, trail mix, lean meat sandwiches on whole grain buns, and fruit cups are wonderful things to have for picnics. You can opt for flavored water or diet sodas to keep the calorie count low.

Best choices for romantic dates

  • Wine and chocolate are tied at number one
  • Veggies and ranch dressing
  • Meat and cheese trays with crackers an Triscuits
  • Caramel brownies
  • Cheese biscuits
  • Cheesecake
  • Chocolate cake
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Ice cream treats
  • Finger sandwiches-Italian, pizza, or meatball

How to choose foods for a group

When four or more people are attending a picnic, it is easiest to plan the menu on the heavy side. Everyone has a different appetite, so it is better to have more than enough than to run short. Choose the pasta salads, cream pies, and sweet cocktails and pick your entree accordingly. Throw in tons of appetizers like pretzels, fruit and veggie trays, whole watermelons, and finger sandwiches.

The simplest foods to make for a picnic

  • Sandwiches-BLT, Italian, Club, Peanut butter and jelly, egg salad, tuna salad
  • Fruit salads-Bananas, apples, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, or strawberries
  • Veggie trays with plenty of dips and tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, olives, carrots, celery, and cucumbers
  • Store bought pies
  • Deli meats and cheeses with a loaf of Italian or French Bread
  • Chocolate cream pie made with instant pudding and Cool Whip
  • Turkey or ham roll-ups on tortilla shells
  • Jello with berries and whipped topping
  • Salads in mason jars
  • Chicken tenders and dip
  • Potato chips, pretzels, and Oreos paired with finger sandwiches for a no cook meal
  • Fruit, yogurt, and granola bars
  • Popcorn

Least messy ways to tote your picnic foods

My favorite way to pack a picnic basket, or two or three depending on my guest list, is to use mason jars. You can put almost anything in the little jars, and you never have to worry about spills. Make a strawberry smoothie, mix up a batch of your mom’s potato salad, or create a stunning layered dessert. You can also use plastic storage containers and bags, but remember to use a food safe marker so you can figure out what is what when you get to the park. Butter bowls, aluminum foil, and paper lunch bags work in a pinch and on a budget.

Picnic food is meant to be fun and easy. Using mason jars minimises spills and gives you a way to store food in advance. Pack a comfortable blanket, some napkins and silverware, a soothing playlist, and a camera for a day filled with good food and fun. The goal is to make sure everyone can relax, including the host or hostess.