With the warm weather finally here, it’s hard not to want to consume all meals, drinks and snacks outside on a patio or in a park! For that same reason, packing picnic food and eating outdoors make for fantastic Summer date ideas because they cost you peanuts to put together, you get full control over the menu, and they inevitably always feel super romantic.
The key to a successful picnic, however, is making sure you know how to pack your picnic food (don’t want to get out to the park without any cutlery) and of course, prepping lots of delicious easy to eat food
While a cute picnic basket for your picnic food always sets the tone, a basic cooler or large lunch bag will do the trick too. As for dishware, I prefer to use eco-friendly products like washable cloth napkins and plates and cutlery so that nothing blows away outdoors. You’ll also need a picnic blanket, some bug spray, sunscreen (because sun burns are not cute), colourful straws so you look sophisticated while day drinking and a reusable water bottles frozen into an ice-pack. These are great for keeping your food cool and safe while they’re frozen, and when they melt, you’ll have a icy cold drink to keep you hydrated while you drink vodka outside.
As for the edibles, the possibilities are endless, but I always recommend recipes that don’t make a huge mess, are easily packed, and ideally don’t require a lot of knife action.
Picnic Food 101
First, picnic food requires salad, and I love packing mine up in cute mason jars like with my Middle Eastern Inspired recipe below. There is a formula to mason jars and it all comes down to the layers. Here’s the order of ingredients you should aim to follow from first to last layer:
1. Salad Dressing
2. Hard Veggies and Fruit (like carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, corn, apple, beans, asparagus etc.)
3. Grains, Beans & Pasta
4. Cheese and Proteins
5. Softer Veg and Fruit (like avocado, berries, tomatoes, cooked squash etc.) – tomatoes, olives
6. Nuts, Seeds & Spices
7. Delicate Greens
Next, picnic food screams for a sandwich. The key to lightening things up is to hollow out your bun (you don’t need all those extra carbs), avoiding the mayo in favour of lower fat spreads or sauces (like balsamic vinegar!), and sticking to poultry with the skin removed. My Chicken and Fig Sandwich is really a show-stopping winner.
Finally, you need a cocktail to go with your picnic food because it’s Summer and you’re on a date – if it goes down hill, at least you’ll be self-entertained. My Tea Infused Vodka Lemonade is the perfect Summer sipper starting with my go-to vodka, Wyborowa (pronounced Vee-bo-ro-va). Wybo (pronounced Vee-bo) is made of pure rye grain and is super smooth on the rocks or in a cocktail like this.
This a great vodka for those with celiac or gluten intolerance because not only is it 100% GMO, it’s also naturally gluten free. This recipe make a full bottle of the tea-infused vodka, so you’ll have plenty to enjoy all summer long. It also pairs beautifully with picnic food so yaaaaah, day drinking!
More of a visual person? Check out my new Youtube video here on my favourite picnic food ideas!
What are your go-to Summer Picnic Food ideas? Leave me a message below on what you would love to see in your picnic basket and I’ll try whipping up my healthy version.
Tea Vodka with Lemonade
- 750 ml bottle of Wyborowa Vodka
- 1 black tea bag
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups ice cold water
- 1 cup lemon juice
- slices Lemon
- Add a tea bag to the 750 ml bottle of Wyborowa vodka and let it sit for at least 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, to make the lemonade, mix 1/2 cup honey with 1 cup water in a saucepan and simmer until dissolved. Then fill a large pitcher with 3 cups of ice cold water, and mix in 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and the dissolved honey mixture.
- To make a drink, top 1 oz of the steeped tea vodka with lemonade in a mason jar or glass along with a few slices of lemon.
Lightened Up Chicken And Fig Sandwhich
- 6 inch piece of whole grain banguette
- 1/3 cup baby spinach
- 2-3 oz roasted chicken breasts skin removed
- 1 fig sliced
- 1/2 oz chevre crumbled
- Hollow out the bread on each side to remove a chunk of excess carbs.
- Lay down some spinach, the roasted chicken breast with the skin, sliced ripe figs, and chevre. Finish with a drizzle of the Balsamic reduction.
Middle Eastern Mason Jar Salad
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustarg
- 1 tsp honey
- pinch salt and pepper pinch of each
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper finely diced
- 1/4 cup cucumber finely diced
- 1/2 cup canned chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 oz feta cheese crumbled
- 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 2 tbsp olives minced
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 1/2 tsp za'atar
- 1 cup spinach
- Layer into a 1 L mason jar and enjoy!
Disclaimer: The preceding video and blog post was created in paid partnership with Wyborowa Vodka, however, as always, all opinions are genuine.
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.