Healthy and Fun Picnic Ideas

Family eating watermelon at an outdoor picnic.

The sun is out, the grass is green, and the flowers are bursting with vibrant purples, pinks, reds and yellows. Spring and summer are the best time of year to celebrate the joys of being outside playing, eating and spending time on a family picnic!

Filling Your Picnic Basket

Bringing tasty and nourishing foods can sometimes be a difficult task when trying to please all family members and friends. Therefore, flavor and advance food prep are key components to a successful outing. Following are some great tips and tricks to make your picnic a breeze!

  • Pack veggie sticks and a side of hummus for dipping.
    Tip: Store veggies in a food container to reduce bruising.
  • Prepare a hearty and filling Tuscan Bean and Pasta Salad.
    Tip: For ease, make the salad the night before because it won't wilt.
  • Make whole-wheat tortilla wraps stuffed with your favorite filling (peanut butter and jam, turkey and cheese).
    Tip: Cut wraps into small rounds and pack in a large food container.
  • For dessert, make fruit skewers with Popsicle sticks. Grapes, tangerines, strawberries and melon stay fresh longest.
    Tip: Store these in a quart-sized bag and place on top to avoid bruising.
  • Fill your thermos. It helps keep cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot.
    Tip: Always bring fresh water!

Keeping your Food Safe

Picnics can be fun and safe, if food safety is kept in mind. Bringing a small cooler for perishable items is the best place to start. Below are some general guidelines to ensure your picnic remains safe for the entire family:

  • Prepare for your picnic. Place all your refrigerated food items into a cooler with plenty of ice just prior to leaving.
  • Wash hands before eating. If a water source is not available, use chemical-free hand sanitizer.
  • Don't leave foods out in the sun. Try to keep your cooler in the shade. On days hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, perishable foods should not sit out longer than one hour.

Keep Exercise Fun

Picnic outings are a great way to stay active as a family. With everything from beaches to playgrounds, visiting city, state or national parks can be a great way to stay active outside. Also, remember to bring some of your favorite toys, such as Frisbees and kites, for some added fun.

For more information on children's health and nutrition, make an appointment at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, where Well-Child Visits cost $20 for children under 18 in July-August 2015.

— By Selva Wohlgemuth, MS (‘14), Bastyr University 2014-15 dietetic intern

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