How to Pack the Perfect Healthy Picnic

As summer approaches and we venture out in this new era, we’re re-learning how to be social after a year of social distancing. When it’s time to gather up your friends for bites and good company – without much cooking prep or clean-up – nothing beats a good old-fashioned picnic.

Picnics can be super simple: Just you, some friends and some ready-to-eat healthy snacks — starting with Holiday® grapes, once they’re in season come September. But if you’re feeling creative, don’t hold back! Here are some fun and simple ideas for popular picnic occasions, plus a few pro tips to make your picnic a real walk in the park.

June 18 is International Picnic Day, so grab a basket and start planning now.

Playdate at the park

Playing hard works up quite the appetite. When the food comes after a whole lot of fun, keep it simple and go with the classics — starting with Holiday grapes when they’re in season. (And do remember to pack wipes for cleaning hands before digging in!)

Pack PB&Js, apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon, pretzels and kid-friendly veggies with hummus, and cheese sticks or cubes. Give bigger kids their own bunch of grapes for dessert (slice them up to keep little ones safe). Introducing healthy foods when friends are around might entice your picky eater to give new foods a chance from the first bite! Check out this blog for more tips on introducing kids to healthy food.

Romantic date for two

A picnic in your favorite park is a classic warm-weather date. You’ll need your sweetie and some snacks, along with a cozy blanket big enough for snuggling close.

Pack both of your favorite sandwiches (or pick them up from your corner deli to save time), plus a few sides to share. For salty, go with really good potato chips, spiced nuts, herbed olives or pickled vegetables. On the sweet side, go with grapes — especially when super-sweet, extra-large Holiday grapes are in season — along with a dark chocolate bar or a cupcake to split.

Add a fun and festive drink, but skip the glassware and opt for lightweight (and less-breakable) plastic cups or cans instead.

Al fresco group meetings

Summertime socializing is so much more fun outdoors. Gather your book club and head to the park for a change of scenery.

If you prefer that everyone brings a dish, make your contribution these Grape Caprese Salad Hors D’Oeuvres. They’re elegant yet easy to assemble and perfectly portioned so everyone can have a nibble (or a few).

When friends ask what they can bring, suggest a studier salad. Consider dishes like a three-bean salad, grain bowls with chewy farro or barley, fresh cabbage slaw with vinegar, or the French classic of shredded carrots tossed with a mustard-y vinaigrette that will hold up well.

Hosting in your backyard? Pack individual Plant-Based Party Plates in bento boxes so everyone can nosh and nibble without having to crowd into one space or continually pass platters.

Pro tips for the perfect picnic

  • Want to keep drinks ice cold — without watering them down? Freeze grapes and use them in place of ice cubes. As a bonus, you can eat them when you finish your drink!
  • Food safety should always come first. Pick zesty vinaigrettes over mayo-based and creamy dressings (since they’ll spoil faster). Save the BBQ chicken for the grill and pack cured meats like salami or pepperoni, which don’t need to be kept cold.
  • Use a soft-side cooler or insulated grocery bag instead of a traditional picnic basket to store foods safely without adding too much weight.
  • Keep things green: Stash sandwiches in beeswax wrap or parchment paper instead of plastic baggies. Use silicone bags for your grapes and other snacks. And use a stainless steel bento box to hold small bites separately (olives, cheese cubes, salami chunks, pickled vegetables, etc.).
  • If you’re hosting a crowd, ask everyone to BYO place settings (a plate, silverware and cup) to avoid using disposables. Or choose compostable ones if that’s a disposal option where you live!
  • No matter who’s on the guest list and where you decide to meet up, a picnic is the ultimate low-stress party. And once Holiday grapes are back in season, your menu planning is even easier!