One of my favorite items I registered for when we got married was a gorgeous picnic basket filled with enamelware dishes and all the basic necessities for a picnic for four. It remains among one of my most treasured gifts, and I love to dust it off when the warm weather hits for a day at the park with my family.
Living in a small town means there aren’t a lot of great kid-friendly destinations to keep the young’uns busy, and I try to keep our excursions to a limited budget anyway. What we do have, though, are loads of parks to discover and a large picnic basket to fill for a fun day together.
A few years ago, we began a family tradition to take a picnic—weather permitting—on the last day of school to toast the beginning of a new summer together. I love to build traditions around food and family, and a lovely picnic with my favorite kiddos has been a really special one to share.
Whether you’re building a tradition or just hunting for a fun outdoor activity to do with your kids, here are a few ideas to make your picnic outing a success! And don’t fret if you don’t have a pretty picnic basket on hand. Just toss some of your family’s favorite healthy snacks in a sack and get outside!
1. Find a Great Destination
We love to hit our local parks when we go on a picnic, but last year we decided to broaden our horizons by finding new places to play. If you’re on the hunt for a new park to try out, search FindYourPark.com
for a park location near you. We discovered we had some really incredible parks in our neighboring town. Getting out of our rut really increased the fun for our family picnics.
I also discovered our library has membership passes that can be checked out to a variety of local attractions, giving our family free admission to destinations that would normally be rather pricey. For example, the library has a membership pass to our local botanical garden, which is accessible to community members to check out for 24 hours. With their pass, we experienced a beautiful new location for our picnic without breaking the bank.
2. Pack a Delicious Meal
To me, picnics aren’t elaborate affairs; rather, they involve throwing some simple foods into a basket that can be enjoyed snack-style while I flip through a book and the kids run around like a couple of crazies on the playground.
I love to roll up Land O’Frost lunch meats and serve it with cubed cheese and tons of easy-to-pop fruits and veggies. I have also found salads (fruit, veggie or quinoa) are perfectly portable in mason jars for a picnic lunch. Here is one of my favorite tried-and-true recipes for a picnic in jar. If you want to increase the protein in this salad, just add a layer of Land O’Frost lunch meat or rotisserie chicken to each jar.
Quinoa Salad in a Jar
1 pound spinach
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups cooked quinoa (follow the instructions for preparation on the packaging)
Salt and pepper
- Prepare quinoa as directed on package (it’s just like cooking rice—1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid ratio. Veggie broth, chicken broth or water all work in this one). Season with salt and pepper.
- Halve grape or cherry tomatoes with a paring knife and add them to the mixing bowl.
- Once the quinoa is done, scoop equal amounts into four jars. Squirt the juice of your lemons over the quinoa and add a light drizzle of olive oil to each jar. Allow these to cool fully before adding the rest of your ingredients.
- Layer tomatoes and spinach on top of quinoa mixture.
- Lid your jar and store in your fridge for up to five days. Eat directly out of the jar or pour into a bowl for an easy picnic feast!
3. Don't forget the essentials!
A waterproof blanket for sitting on, a bag or two for gathering up trash and dirty dishes, sunblock, bug spray, wet wipes, a small first aid kit for the inevitable injury and paper towels are just a few of the things I always keep handy. I’ve found keeping a small bag of items like this in our garage for easy grabbing helps cut down on the time spent packing to get our crew out the door.