10 Do and Don’t Foods for a Family Picnic

10 Do and Don’t Foods for a Family Picnic - by Little Spoons and Spice

The idea of a family picnic at the beach or the park sounds exciting, right? But are you a little panicked by what foods to pack in your picnic basket?  These types of family outings can create lasting memories.  Hopefully happy ones! Keep your family safe on your next picnic by following these tips:

1. DON’T take dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt)

Dairy products spoil easily when not held at the appropriate temperature.  Summer afternoons can get quite hot, which is bad news for dairy products.

2. DO take fresh fruits

Fresh fruit is always a great option.  It’s healthy and refreshing!  Remember to cut up your fruit before you leave.  It not only makes it easier to serve, its safer too.  The outside of melon rinds pose a risk for carrying harmful bacteria, which is why it’s so important to scrub melons thoroughly before cutting.   Remember to keep all cut fruit in a cooler and out of direct sunlight.

3. DON’T use mayo based products

Salads with mayonnaise as an ingredient can be quickly perishable.  This includes potato salad, pasta salads, deviled eggs, etc.  Its crucial to keep these products below 41℉ to prevent a risk of food-borne illness.  Keeping foods out too long, and storing without a cooler, or in one that doesn’t hold at the appropriate temperature, are common mistakes.   It’s not worth the gamble, especially with young children.

4. DO take fresh vegetables

Fresh veggies are an easy, portable snack that is also nutritious.

5. DON’T pack sugary drinks (such as fruit juice and soda)

Stay away from sugar-loaded drinks like fruit juice, soda and flavored water.  They are known for attract unwelcomed guests, such as ants, bees and other annoying bugs.  Stick with water.  It’s not only sugar free, but will rehydrate the kids better.

6. DO take trail mixes and dried fruits

Trail mixes and dried fruits are perfect for outdoor eating.  They’re quick, simple to pack, and super easy for kids to eat.

7. DON’T pack desserts

If you can avoid it, skip the desserts.  Everyone loves them, but so do bugs!

8. DO pack peanut- or nut-based sandwiches on a whole grain

These sandwiches are perfect, you don’t need a cooler and they’re ready when you need them.

9.DON’T take raw meats for grilling (such as poultry, red meat)

When transporting raw meats (potentially hazardous), you are putting everyone at risk for food borne illness.  Even if you cook food properly, you still have a risk of cross contamination in your cooler AND limited access to running water and soap to wash your hands, utensils and anything you used to prep the meat with.    

10. DO grill corn on the cob

If you have the urge to grill on a picnic, try corn on the cob. It’s safe to transport and super easy to grill.  Just keep the corn in the husk until after you’re done grilling.

Additional Tips:

  • Wash everyone’s hands before anyone handles the food.
  • Place your cooler in the shade, out of direct sunlight. Limit the number of times you open the cooler.  Use a separate cooler for drinks.
  • Finger foods are easy, and will keep your picnic simple.
  • Always keep cold food cold. Use ice packs and multiple coolers if needed.  Cold food should be kept below 41℉.

Family picnics are memorable. Think of the ones you had as a child.  And we often associate traditions with what our parents did with us.  By keeping your family picnics food-safe and healthy, your children may remember those same foods when they’re older… making them part of their own family’s picnics.  And if food safety wasn’t a part of your past, its never too late to start some new traditions. We do as we know and our children know what we teach them.

10 Do and Don’t Foods for a Family Picnic - by Little Spoons and Spice

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