Tips for Summer Picnics (Eat Well, Spend Less)

I love picnics!

Yes, the frugal part of me is why I am constantly saying "Hey, guys, let's just do a picnic."

That sounds more fun than saying "Since it's expensive to eat out, I'm going to pack some food for us." ;)

Whatever you call it, I love take-along food. It's a whole lot cheaper than eating out, plus being yummy, healthy, and on-demand. Here are some picnic tips that work for us!

Porch picnic

Bring enough food, but not too much. This is especially important if you're carrying your picnic with you while you sight-see on foot or hike. I ask the older family members how much food they want (how many sandwiches, pieces of fruit, etc.) and try to take just what we'll eat. The eliminates needing to tote around leftovers or keep them cold.

Re-usable dinnerware

Use disposable wrappings/plates if you're carrying everything; use re-usable containers if weight isn't an issue. I freely admit that I use plastic wrap, sandwich baggies, and paper napkins for an on-foot picnic! If we're packing a big cooler and driving somewhere in the van, then I'll use my normal re-usable containers and some washable plates. (I have extra plastic plates purchased for large crowds, bbqs, and picnics!)

Summer picnic walk

Take finger foods so you don't even need dinnerware! Our favorite picnics are finger foods like:

Veggie sticks
Pre-washed/cut fruit like grapes, apple slices, pear slices, or bananas
Cheese sticks or slices

I like to pack serving-size baggies of the veggies, fruits, or nuts so no little dirty hands are reaching into one big bag. ;)

And speaking of dirty...

Don't forget a clean tablecloth (if picnicking at a table) and some wet wipes or washcloths for dirty hands! :)

We also like to have at-home picnics on the deck or in the yard. Eating out in the sunshine and fresh air makes the kids (and me!) happy while keeping the kitchen floor clean. The benefit of an at-home picnic is that I can serve most anything -- like leftovers, even -- with no extra effort. :)

Eat Well, Spend Less series

This week, the Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers are writing about summer fun! Check out:

Eat Well, Spend Less During a Staycation from Life As Mom

Grilled Salads from Simple Bites

Sprouted Lentil Salad Recipe and Dressings from Kitchen Stewardship

Easy and Tasty Summertime Snacks from Kingdom First Mom

Eat Well, Spend Less During Your Insane Summer Schedule from Food for my Family

...and more to come from Denver Bargains and Good Life Eats!


When I was little, my family would stop for a picnic on the way to New York every summer. The part I remember best is the way my mother always packed a sliced cucumber wrapped in aluminum foil and miniature salt and pepper shakers so we could flavor our cucumbers! I think I looked forward to those little shakers (which we didn't use the rest of the year) more than anything else on that drive up.

We often picnic with just crackers, cheese and fruit which is always on hand.
Mama Bear

I love these ideas. I plan to use some of them as we are picnicking a lot this summer. Most of our picnics are transported by bicycle so that can be a challenge.

If you bring plastic zip bags for picnic food, do you throw them out, or bring the bags home to wash & reuse? Hardly any weight to carry home, and you can get several uses out of each bag.
I started doing this a few years ago when I realized I was a being a hippocrate for all of my recycling & composting, but not washing & reusing bags. Some still get tossed, but most get reused.

We LOVE packing our food. This is something we've really gotten into since we started thinking healthier. Eating at places we go (like the zoo) really loses it's novelty when you're thinking about getting the most nutritional bang for your buck. We splurge at times, but we feel so much better when we can pull out something better for us instead of having to resort to junk food. We do this sometimes when we know we'll be in town all day, too. I'm not thinking the whole time, "Man, I really want to go to McDonald's!" lol

We typically pack things like turkey sandwiches for hubby and daughter, turkey wrap for me (I love it with canola mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and jalapenos - yummy!), fruit, milk and water, whole grain chips or nut, yogurt and granola.

We're going on our big family "vacation" (it's a weekend) this week and we have all kinds of stuff ready to take with us.

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