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20 Ways to Make Your Picnic Healthy and Delicious

It wouldn’t be summer if you didn’t enjoy a picnic or two. Class up traditional outdoor fare with these healthy picnic foods.

 

Summer is the perfect time to break out the checkered blanket, pack up some delicious picnic foods, and head for the grass.

And there are definitely right and wrong ways to do the picnic thing.

You can let the pressure to pack portable finger foods lead you down the path of temptation to processed, prepackaged junk.

Or you can try out these healthy picnic food ideas, which are designed with outdoor eating in mind.

These easy recipes travel well and can be enjoyed straight out of the container whenever you reach your outdoor destination.

And they’re perfect for any occasion, from a large gathering of friends to a romantic picnic for two.

Trust me, you’ll be glad to ditch the Lunchables and pack these delectable dishes into the cooler instead.

Enjoy!

Caprese Quesadilla

Serves 2

Take your Caprese salad to-go by turning it into a quesadilla. You won’t need a fork to enjoy fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil together.

And there’s no salad dressing either. Bring the chopped balsamic tomatoes for a topping, or just grab a pico de gallo or red salsa, which you can also share around with tortilla chips.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

541

Calories

23 g

Protein

54 g

Carbs

29 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 whole-wheat tortillas

8 oz. fresh mozzarella

12 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

5 Roma tomatoes

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. butter, for frying

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Cupcake Tin Stout Pies

Serves 12

Muffins and cupcakes are great to bring to a picnic, but you can use that baking tin to make other single-serving eats too.

Instead of having to haul a whole dish, bake mini picnic pies, which can be sweet or savory. Then bring along just enough to feed the crowd – whether that’s double the recipe, or just a couple as part of a romantic picnic for two.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

303

Calories

13 g

Protein

23 g

Carbs

16 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 parsnip, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. flour

1 cup stout (or porter)

1 Tbsp. curry powder

2 shortcrust pastry sheets

1 large egg, beaten

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Curried Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

A quinoa salad is awesome for a picnic lunch – or any kind of lunch – because it’s a balanced meal all on its own. The fresh herbs, nuts, and fruit don’t hurt.

Yet it’s the quinoa itself that provides a foundation for great nutrition, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, complex carbs, and plant-based protein. And for an even more substantial quinoa salad, mix in shredded chicken breast or turkey.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

426

Calories

10 g

Protein

49 g

Carbs

22 g

Fat

Ingredients

Quinoa Salad:

1 cup dry quinoa

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup dried mulberries (or raisins)

1 small blood orange, chopped

 

Dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. curry powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Apple Slaw

Serves 4

Whole apples might seem like a great idea for a picnic, but they tend to get bruised in the bag on the trek to a sunny spot in the park. And when you eat them whole, you have to toss the core somewhere.

You may as well prep them ahead of time for a salad or slaw. The trick to making sure pre-cut apples don’t turn brown is to toss them in citrus juice, so this is one time where you’ll want to add the dressing immediately instead of waiting until it’s served.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

160

Calories

1 g

Protein

26 g

Carbs

7 g

Fat

Ingredients

Slaw:

2 cups red cabbage

1 cup green cabbage (or shredded lettuce)

1 1/2 apples

2 carrots (about 1 cup)

3 green onions

Handful of fresh cilantro

 

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. salad oil

2 Tbsp. pure honey

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp.)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dash of ground cayenne

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Sweet Potato & Millet Falafel

Serves 6

Falafel probably doesn’t rank high on the list of cold picnic foods. However, it can be eaten at any temperature, and that also means you can prepare it ahead of time and just grab it out of the fridge on the way there.

It’ll be great to have with hummus, which is a snack dip with pita chips, but turns into a whole meal when you add falafel.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

325

Calories

12 g

Protein

57 g

Carbs

6 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours

1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium)

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic, quartered

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground cayenne

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cooked millet, room temp.

Grapeseed oil for frying

1 Tbsp. chickpea flour (more if needed)

1/4 tsp. baking soda

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Broccoli Salad with Sweet Lime Chili Dressing

Serves 4

This superfood salad is great anytime with broccoli, mangoes, and red bell pepper. It’s one to remember when you’re getting sick of green salads and need something new in the mix.

Using broccoli instead of lettuce also makes it a welcome addition to any picnic spread because it won’t wilt in the sun. Actually none of the ingredients in this salad will go bad even if you spend half the day in the park before bringing home leftovers – if you even have any.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

415

Calories

10 g

Protein

60 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

Broccoli Salad:

2 heads broccoli (about 1 lb.)

2 mangoes (about 1 lb.)

1 large red bell pepper

1 cup cashews, toasted

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Dressing:

1 Tbsp. sambal chili paste

1/4 cup pure honey (or maple syrup)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup avocado oil

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Cream Cheese-Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

Serves 12

This easy appetizer combines stuffed peppers with stuffed mushrooms for an irresistible snack. Bite-sized baby bell peppers can be turned into picnic finger food when you slice them in half, fill with cream cheese, and roast in the oven. They’re great to eat when warm or cold.

Depending on what flavors you prefer, this recipe is easily adaptable. You could mix in paprika, cayenne, and almonds. Or go with Cajun seasoning, pecans, and a dash of hot sauce.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

118

Calories

4 g

Protein

8 g

Carbs

7 g

Fat

Ingredients

12 baby bell peppers, cut lengthwise and deseeded

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese

2 green onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Sriracha (optional)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Make-Ahead Dagwood Sandwiches

Serves 12

When you’re making a sandwich for a picnic, it has to hit all the right notes. Otherwise you can’t rummage through the fridge to find more condiments or other toppings.

So be sure to use a flavorful bread, add enough pesto or other sauce to ensure the sandwich isn’t dry, and pile on multiple meats so everyone’s happy. This version uses smoked turkey and salami, or you can replace either one with sliced picnic ham.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

450

Calories

23 g

Protein

38 g

Carbs

24 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 loaves herb focaccia (or ciabatta)

1 container (6.5 oz.) garlic and herbs lite spreadable cheese

1 lb. thinly sliced smoked turkey

8 oz. sliced provolone cheese

8 oz. thinly sliced salami

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil

8 slices bacon, cooked

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings

3 small Roma tomatoes, sliced

4 cups arugula, lightly packed and torn

1/2 cup basil pesto

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Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Serves 6

Get everyone to eat their veggies with this chickpea salad. That’s because what looks like couscous is actually cauliflower. Just cut it into florets, put them in the food processor, and pulse until they get crumbly.

If you’d rather have this Mediterranean salad with a low-fat dressing, make one by blending together a can of chickpeas, the juice of one orange, and a few tablespoons of tahini. Add garlic powder and other seasonings to taste.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

266

Calories

8 g

Protein

23 g

Carbs

18 g

Fat

Ingredients

Chickpeas:

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. ground cayenne

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

 

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

Cauliflower Salad:

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, diced

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped

1 cucumber, finely chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Blueberry Peach Snack Cake

Serves 12

It’s tempting to bring cupcakes to a party until you realize how hard it is to move them without wrecking the frosting, or having them all topple over.

When you’re baking a picnic cake, keep it simple with fresh fruit, and you have to plan a topping at all. Simply slice into squares, and serve the lightly sweetened cake with a bottle of chilled white wine.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

136

Calories

2 g

Protein

21 g

Carbs

5 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp.

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or skim milk)

1 cup peaches, diced small

2 tsp. Turbinado sugar

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Asian Noodle Salad Jars

Serves 4

Instead of bringing a big bowl of salad to share around, make individual portions to pack.

You’ll still need a plate or bowl to dump the contents into so they have space to be mixed with the dressing, but overall going for the salad-in-a-jar method will be the cleaner and easier route.

There won’t be any need to pass around a big salad bowl and try to spoon it into smaller portions, and the ingredients will stay fresh until each person decides to dig in.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

376

Calories

12 g

Protein

39 g

Carbs

21 g

Fat

Ingredients

Salad:

4 oz. soba noodles

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup shelled edamame, cooked

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup crunchy rice noodles

 

Spicy Peanut Dressing:

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

4 tsp. sambal oelek

4 tsp. rice vinegar

4 tsp. soy sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

Serves 8

Put your picnic roast in a Crock Pot the day before, and you’ll have succulent pork in the fridge to grab and go.

Shredded meat is easier to serve outside since you won’t have to carve it. And it’s perfect to pair with a classic picnic dish: coleslaw.

Pile it high on hamburger buns, mix it into a corn salad, or use it to top crostini. Extras can go in the freezer for a quick meal later on.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

527

Calories

43 g

Protein

33 g

Carbs

25 g

Fat

Ingredients

Pork:

3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast

Pinch of garlic salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 can (15 oz.) pineapple tidbits, undrained

 

Pineapple Barbecue Sauce:

2 cups pineapple juice

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup ketchup

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. pure honey

1 Tbsp. molasses

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Tempeh & Cucumber Bites with Balsamic Reduction

Serves 4

Headed to a vegetarian picnic? You don’t have to bring a veggie tray or fruit salad – although they’re tasty too. These bite-sized skewers are fun to serve, easy to share, and simple to make.

Yet I’m betting nobody else is going to show up with these tempeh skewers. Not only are they clever, but these cucumber skewers are a cinch to make.

Mix together vinegar and brown sugar in a pot, and bring to a boil for a few minutes to thicken the dipping sauce. Then dice up the tempeh and cucumbers into cubes, or as close as you can get them, and assemble.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

208

Calories

16 g

Protein

19 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 cups diced tempeh

2 cups diced cucumbers

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Mini Frittatas in a Jar

Serves 6

Frittata is an Italian picnic classic, but taking a whole dish to the park isn’t that easy. You can slice it up into cubes and bring it in a lidded plastic container.

Or, bake individual serving sizes in jars. When you’re worried about bugs or dirt getting in your food while you picnic, nothing beats a mason jar for keeping your meal clean and away from critters.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

388

Calories

27 g

Protein

9 g

Carbs

27 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 lb. asparagus

1/2 cup (about 4 oz.) diced pancetta (or mushrooms)

12 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup (about 1 oz.) shredded Parmesan

3/4 cup (abou3 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella

1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted

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Chopped Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Fresh Cheese & Mint

Serves 4

Snap peas are a great picnic snack because you can enjoy them whole and use almost any kind of savory dip, like hummus or creamy yogurt.

This recipe takes a different approach by slicing them up to be the greens in a salad. And this dressing is even easier than making homemade dip. All you need is garlic, lemon juice, and rice wine vinegar.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

183

Calories

7 g

Protein

10 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. unseasoned rice wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed and diagonally cut into 1” pieces

10 radishes, trimmed and quartered

2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh mint

4 oz. queso fresco (or fresh ricotta)

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Apricots with Basil-Goat Cheese & Almonds

Serves 40

Trail mix lovers will want to try this picnic-friendly snack. Spread goat cheese on a dried apricot, and top with an almond. It’s really that easy.

To make it extra-special, take the time to add fresh herbs like basil to the cheese. You can prepare and assemble everything ahead of time, or just take the goat cheese to the picnic along with a knife and other items like crackers to spread it on.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

36

Calories

1 g

Protein

5 g

Carbs

1 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 oz. fresh goat cheese, room temp.

2 tsp. milk

2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil

40 dried apricots

40 almonds

2 tsp. pure honey

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Spicy Lime Shrimp with Drunken Grapes

Serves 6

Take shrimp appetizers to go with this fun, refreshing bite. Although they look unassuming, like a couple basic ingredients threaded on a toothpick, these shrimp bites will wow everyone.

The secret that makes the flavor pop is soaking the grapes in white wine for a couple hours. It’ll pair perfectly with the honey ginger lime shrimp.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

233

Calories

18 g

Protein

10 g

Carbs

4 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh shrimp, washed, peeled, and deveined

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. lime zest

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tbsp. minced ginger

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

Dash of red pepper flakes

1 1/2 tsp. pure honey

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 bunch seedless grapes (red or green)

1 bottle (750 mL) light white wine

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Almond Coconut Bars

Serves 8

For an easy picnic dessert, choose a recipe that’s already portioned out, like cookies, brownies, or snack bars.

These require just four ingredients – five, if you want to include chocolate – and they can be quickly mixed together and baked anywhere from a couple days before the picnic to an hour before you head to the park.

Pick up The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking, for more simple-to-make recipes that help with healthy meal planning. It includes illustrated guides to making hummus, salsa, and more.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

196

Calories

5 g

Protein

17 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup coconut flakes

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup pure honey

1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

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The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking

By Jeanine Donofrio
Get the Book Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

Lemon Tuna & Artichoke Sandwiches

Serves 2

The best way to take tuna salad to-go is to spread it between two slices of bread. And although a lot of picnic foods contain mayonnaise, it’s better to leave it at home because it can’t sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours.

This recipe opts for artichoke hearts instead, and if you choose the canned tuna packed in oil, it’ll help to keep the tuna salad creamy and delicious.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

695

Calories

34 g

Protein

81 g

Carbs

23 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 jar (6.5 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, undrained

1 can (6 oz.) tuna in olive oil, undrained

2 tsp. lemon zest

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

12” baguette

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Smoked Salmon & Dill Tea Sandwiches

Serves 4

For a fancy picnic, make tea sandwiches – the simple kind that has the crusts cut off. They tend to have bare minimum fillings like jam, butter and pickles, or pears.

These delicate sandwiches don’t have to be sweet or light, though. Since cream cheese is a common filling, it only makes sense to add smoked salmon. And this same recipe can be used to make cucumber dill sandwiches; make them vegetarian by replacing the salmon.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

330

Calories

22 g

Protein

30 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 package (8 oz.) light cream cheese

2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill

1/2 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 loaf (8 slices) whole-wheat bread

8 oz. smoked salmon

1/2 red onion, minced

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OVER 100,000 PEOPLE HAVE USED MY COOKBOOK TO GET THE BODY THEY WANT EATING THE FOODS THEY LOVE. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

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In short, what if I told you that proper dieting--whether you want to maximize fat loss or muscle growth--is much simpler and more enjoyable than you’ve been led to believe?

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Well, I have good news.

All these “fantasies” can be a reality...if you know how to do a handful of “little” things correctly.

You see, when you know how to diet properly--and this doesn’t mean learning to eat boiled chicken and raw broccoli six times per day--getting lean and muscular becomes simple, convenient, and dare I say...enjoyable.

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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