Healthy Picnic Ideas for Your Next Summer Outing


The sun is out, the red and white checkered tablecloth is washed, and the cooler is packed. Ah, picnic season, how we have longed for your return! Have you ever noticed how much better food tastes when eaten outside with friends and family? Maybe that’s why we have so much joy planning our food for camping trips, outdoor festivals, or even a neighbourhood picnic at the park. Half of the experience is the delicious food that makes the scenery so enjoyable and the event so memorable.

The challenge of picnics

Unfortunately, many picnic foods are calorie laden, sugar-bombs and it can be hard to pack a plate that is both healthy and delicious. On top of that, many healthy foods don’t keep very well under anything less than strict refrigeration (we’re talking about you, eggs!) If you are looking for portable, fresh, and still healthy picnic ideas for your next summer outing, you’re in the right place. Here are some tips for making the most of your outdoor meals:


1. Use the rule of fours

Decrease your chances of food borne illness by using the rule of fours. Any recipe containing meat, dairy or eggs falls in this category. The rule of fours states that if a food is between 40-144 Degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours, it should be thrown out. Remember this for packing string cheese, turkey sandwiches, and potato salads (or anything containing Mayonnaise for that matter). These foods need to be kept in a cooler below 40 Degrees or eaten before 4 hours in order to keep from developing food borne illness.


2. Think outside the cookie/brownie/cake box

There are much healthier alternatives. Fruit is the most portable of all snacks, apples, oranges, peaches, pears…they all come in their own natural (sometimes even edible) wrapper and can be left in a picnic basket for hours on end without spoiling. As summer progresses look for cherries, berries, and other nutritious delights that are nature’s candy.


3. Make your own snack mixes for the road

Outdoor activities almost always involve snacking, weather in the car, on a boat, around a game table, or at the park. Instead of grabbing snacks made with sugars, processed fats, and weird ingredients like foods colourings, preservatives or other chemicals, make your own!

Raw, mixed nuts are a delicious, filling snack. Paired with sugar-free dried fruits like pineapple, mango, coconut chips, or cranberries add a delicious, but healthy sweetness. Mixing in a few sunflower, or pumpkin seeds takes the nutrition even higher.

For a savoury mix, try throwing in some air popped popcorn tossed with a little coconut oil and nutritional yeast flakes. Add some cayenne pepper for a little heat and you’ve got yourself a portable, all-natural snack complete with whole grains, protein, and healthy fats.

Bottom line

Once you’ve tried these tips, and you need some more recipes to take out on your picnics, try these listed below!

Lemon and Herb Quinoa Salad

3 Bean Salad

Carrot Cake Cookies

Chocolate Banana Popsicles

Or browse for more ideas in our healthy recipes section!

Hayley is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist, a part-time yoga teacher, and full-time mother. She is passionate about health, nature, and empowering others to reach their full health potential. She works as a health coach, nutrition writer, recipe developer and group fitness instructor. She is energetic and passionate about delicious food and promoting health of the body, mind, and spirit. She hopes to inspire others to eat closely to the way that nature intended, capitalizing on the amazing benefits of whole, unprocessed foods. Follow her posts for nutrition advice and delicious recipes!

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