Lunch on the Go: Summer Picnic Tips

With the Memorial Day being the unofficial start to summer and kids getting out of school, it means that it is time for family vacations, camps, plenty of time outdoors, and day trips. With us out an about much more, many times meals and snacks need to be eaten on the go. While I do pull into the Culver’s drive through occasionally, this is not a regular occurrence. Also, I realize that packing lunches isn’t much different than the school year except I thought about it a little more and realized that kids at school are eating lunch sitting at a table, indoors, and come home right after school to a snack. Also, when you have picky eaters and kids with allergies, nothing ruins what is supposed to be a fun time like a hungry or sick child.

In the summertime, day trips often call for multiple meals on the road as well as sometimes eating on a blanket outside or if it is raining in the back of the car. With that said, planning for meals away from home takes a little bit more planning.


Here are a few tips I’ve learned:

– When I’m meal planning for the week (you can read more about that here), I make sure to plan portable meals for the days we plan to be out of the house and make sure to add portable foods to our grocery list.
– I think finger foods are the way to go, the less utensils you need for the day the better.
– I hardly ever bring napkins when picnicking anymore. I bring an extra container of wipes. They clean sticky hands and faces better, and they can be used to wipe down picnic tables before eating.
– Some things are better prepackaged like yogurt tubes, applesauce cups, or juice boxes. Typically, I don’t like the extra expense and waste of pre-packaged foods, but when you are on the go, it really is easier to just throw things away than have a bunch of dirty tiny containers or sippy cups to clean when you get home.
– I always pack for the meals we will be out for plus one extra snack. You never know when you are going to get stuck in traffic, make a pit stop, or decide to stay where you are a little longer.
– For long trips, we have invested in an electric cooler like this. We bought it five years ago, and I have to say it was one of the best purchases we have ever made. It was perfect for pre made bottles, storing milk when I was breastfeeding, keeps drinks cold, allows us to pack things like yogurt and cheese, and holds more than a regular cooler because we don’t need ice. Ours comes with an AC adapter for the car. We plug it in the car and we are on our way. When we get to our destination, we use an outlet there.
– I always make sure to pack everyone’s water bottles, and periodically refill them throughout the day. Hydrated kids (and parents) are happy kids (and parents).
– I often free grapes, berries, and yogurt tubes. I put them in the cooler and they are a great cold treat for a hot day frozen or thawed.
– Everyone at our house has their own “picnic” container. I found them at Target last year. They are just divided reusable plastic container with lids. Sometimes, I even divide them further using paper muffin cups. This is perfect because everyone gets the meal or snack made to their needs or wants.



This past week, the weather was perfect for spending the day at the zoo. I packed up lunches, snacks, blankets, and sunscreen, and we headed out for the day. For the kids I packed some assorted berries, cut up cucumbers, cheese sticks, crackers, yogurt tubes, and Goldfish crackers.


For myself, I packed some berries, some Mexican Quinoa Salad I had made the night before, and some tortilla chips.


We had a wonderful day, and got stuck in traffic on the way home. Thank goodness I had snacks and water bottles to hold everyone over until we got home.

What is your favorite picnic food?



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