How to Pack the Perfect Summer Picnic Basket

summer picnic

Warm summer weather means it’s the perfect time to take your meals outdoors. We’re big fans of dining al fresco, and we’ve got some tips and recipes to make your next picnic more delicious and healthful.

1. Choose Travel-Friendly Salads and Sandwiches

Make your salads with hearty greens like kale or collards, or with crunchy veggies like cabbage or bok choy. You can dress these salads the day prior, and they’ll be less likely to wilt after sitting overnight:

Assemble sandwiches and wraps the day of your picnic so they don’t get soggy. To save time, you can make the fillings in advance.

2. Make Your Own Dips

Making homemade dips is easier than you’d think. And your homemade version will likely have less sodium than the store-bought kind. Pair these healthy dips with sliced veggies like bell peppers and cucumbers, or with whole grain chips:

3. Lighten-Up Your Potato and Pasta Salads

You can make flavorful and healthier versions of these traditional picnic salads with no mayo required. This way, you can enjoy your potato and pasta salads with less fat and fewer calories.

  • Herbed French Potato Salad uses a vinaigrette packed with fresh herbs like parsley and thyme.
  • Creamy Dijon-Dill Potato Salad If creamy salad is what you're after, this recipes uses yogurt instead of mayo for more protein.  Just make sure to keep it in a cooler to make it food-safe!

Use whole wheat pasta in your pasta salad for an easy way to bump up its fiber content. Our favorite mayo-free pasta salads:

4. Keep Your Food Safe

When you’re prepping your picnic recipes, be sure to cool all the food before refrigerating it. Take your foods straight from the fridge to an insulated cooler. Here’s a space-saving trick to keep your cooler cold: use a frozen water bottle instead of an ice pack. It’ll keep your picnic basket cool, and you can drink the water once it melts.

Once foods heat up to more than 40ºF, they’re inclined to grow bacteria quickly. To avoid the risk of your food spoiling, enjoy perishables like meats and dairy first. In general, avoid perishable foods that have been left out for more than two hours.

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