Picnic outside the Jimmy Buffet concert

Our family (well, mostly me and my oldest daughter) LOVE to go on picnics.  Depending on our goals for the trips, we have several different menu plans that we gravitate toward.

Take out

The easiest picnic menu by far is take out.   We were on our way home from downstate a few weeks ago and realized that the kids napped the whole. way. home.  Almost 4 hours.   We skipped dinner (they were sleeping) and it was still 85 at 7pm.   We ordered pizza on the drive home and headed straight to the beach.   Instead of our normal cheapest-pizza-ever routine, we got the whole shebang — 2 pizzas, breadsticks, dessert and a 2L of pop.  They provided plates and napkins, we had kiddy cups in the car  and beach-side picnic feast was had by all!

You could use whatever take out appeals to your crew — chinese, subs, fried chicken, burger joint, taco’s, whatever!   Or even better, if there are several options on the way to your picnic destination, stop at a couple of them and have a buffet!

Deli Bounty

This is the next easiest.   Hubby loves fried chicken.  I’ve finally found a recipe that’s good (thanks Pioneer Woman!), but its a LOT of work.   And if he wants it at 4:30pm, he’s SOL.   Luckily, the Glen’s nearby has THE best fried chicken since The Coop went out of business (sniff).   We will often grab a bucket of deli chicken, some potato salad or chips, some cut fruit, maybe some dessert and a jug of Simply Lemonade and go to our favorite park (the non-swimming one).

Not a fried chicken fan?  Grocery store delis make some amazing food these days.  At Meijer, you can even get sushi!  I’ve also seen awesome salads, subs, or you could even go the french route and get some melt-in-your-mouth meat, a good cheese or two, a loaf of french bread and whatever beverage is calling your name.

Make It and Run

Sometimes hubby will call and want me to be ready to pack up and head out — usually to a beach (do you see a pattern here?).    Many times we prepare an impromptu picnic with whatever we have on hand.   Most times, I make sandwiches — PB&J is the most common since I nearly always have that on hand, but we do regular lunchmeat, too.   Unless I REALLY need to go to the grocery store, I can almost always find fruit and some crackers or pretzels.   If I’ve been baking lately, I might have some cookies on hand.   If the kids are lucky, there might be juice :).   I pack up individual lunches for everyone and we head on out.

You might try warming up some hot dogs super hot, if your destination is close.   Add some chips or leftover salads and you’ve got a feast.  If you have some leftovers that are good cold, that’s a great choice too.   Burrito’s are another great choice…they hold their heat pretty well!


Where we live, many parks have charcoal grills.   This one requires a little more thought than the rest because not only will you be eating there, but you will be cooking there, too!

First, establish the meat course.  Brats & dogs are easy.  Burgers are best pre-formed/mixed at home.   Chicken or pork should probably be marinated.   Kabobs should be ready to throw on the grill and fish should be prepped and in pouches.  Remember to bring spices, grilling implements, charcoal & lighter fluid and don’t forget clean containers for leftovers.

Add any side dishes and keep all of it on plenty of ice.   For safety, try to cook the food as soon as you arrive and avoid leftovers if possible.   Don’t forget drinks and dessert — things like cookies. brownies and cupcakes work best.


What is your favorite picnic fare?

Jen S.

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