Get Together: 4 Meal Ideas for the Perfect Picnic

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A picnic is the ideal way to celebrate a sunny day. Whether you’re gathering with friends, family, or planning a romantic date, there’s something about eating outside that makes everything taste better. 

So check the weather forecast, send out the invites, and get inspired with these four ideas for perfect picnic meals.

Southwestern Picnic

Scout out a desert-like location to spread your falsa or Pendleton blanket for this Southwestern-inspired picnic.
Salsa and guacamole with tortilla chips make a great snack to start with. Hearty burritos packed with chicken, peppers, rice, beans, corn, avocado, and seasoned with a tasty Tex-Mex blend, are quick to prep and easy to pack—just wrap them tight in cling wrap and aluminum foil. Add a fresh salad topped with feta, red onion, avocado, and crispy steak bacon, and you’ve got a meal.

Photo Credit: Godshall’s Quality Meats

Horchata, a healthy homemade beverage common in Mexico, is a refreshing rice and cinnamon–based drink. You can make your own from scratch, or pick up a version from a mix (find it at your local Mexican grocery). Pack a full thermos to keep it cool for serving. 

Afternoon Tea Picnic

Elegant and refined, an afternoon tea picnic is a wonderful way to spend the day. Prep a basket of finger sandwiches, scones, sweets, and a large thermos of your favorite tea, and set up in a public garden, by a stream, or even in your backyard. 

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Classics include egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese, curried chicken, and smoked salmon, but any sandwich can be a tea sandwich. Just make as usual, cut off the crusts, and slice into small triangles or fingers to serve.

To make things extra special, bring along some real teacups (packed in bubble wrap or tea towels for safety), and if you have one, a tiered tea tray to serve everything on. 

Cheese & Charcuterie Picnic

With no cooking required, a cheese and charcuterie picnic is the easiest way to make any special occasion memorable. This picnic style works well for lunch or dinner, but there is a certain magic in setting up at a viewpoint, with a few tealight candles in jars to provide light after the sun sets.

Shopping List:

  • Baguette (½–⅓ per person)
  • Crackers
  • Cheese (at least one variety per person, a mix of soft and hard)
  • Cured meats (at least one variety per person, ideally pre-sliced—salami, prosciutto, etc.)
  • Spreads for topping (honey, jelly, mustard, etc.)
  • Fresh fruit (look for varieties that don’t get crushed and are easy to share, like grapes and cherries)
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When you arrive, spread out your ingredients on a large wooden board for everyone to share. Cut a few slices of baguette to get started—but don’t pre-slice the bread, or it’ll get stale. Ensure you have enough knives and tongs for everyone to help themselves.

Classic Picnic

And of course, we have to pay tribute to classic American picnic fare. Whether you’re sharing an outdoor meal to celebrate the Fourth of July, a family reunion, or just a beautiful day, everyone loves a picnic of fried chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, and brownies. Pair with a slice of watermelon and a glass of ice-cold lemonade. Head to the beach, the park, or your friend’s backyard, spread out a red and white checkered picnic blanket (or whatever you have on hand), and soak up that sunshine. Life is good.

Photo Credit: Godshall’s Quality Meats

A fun theme helps take your picnic up to the next level—but of course, no matter what theme you choose, the best part is sharing delicious food with friends and family in a beautiful setting.

Little ones coming along on your picnic? Get inspired with these healthy (and fun) snack ideas for kids.