Picnic food, tips and advice!

Summer is drawing to a close but there is still time to take advantage of the long days and get out and about with your kids. Taking a healthy picnic has always been my preferred way to feed my kids when at the beach or the park or halfway up a mountain!

I love picnics for a couple of reasons :

  • because it means we are outside either in a park or at the beach or sometimes on the side of the road! But we are away from screens and the housework!

  • the kids can only eat what you bring - this is a key benefit for me. If your kids demand another option when you’re feeding them at home, then picnics are for you - as there is no other option! Picnics really feed into the “Division of Responsibility” in feeding theory (read more here) where the parent has responsibility for providing the food and it’s up to the child to eat it or not.

  • kids are often starving when they are out and about so they act as mini food hoovers. It’s a great opportunity to stuff them full of great food!

I love those magazines that show a beautiful picnic spread with co-ordinated blanket and crockery, mini quiches and salad, sparkling wine and gorgeous desserts. But my picnic reality is very different. The kids grab whatever food they can hold in their hands and they’re off again, no nice sitting around on a blanket sipping drinks and discussing the weather here!

So here are my favourite foods to bring on a picnic :

  • sandwiches like peanut butter, cheese and salad, tuna and sweetcorn, egg and sweetcorn, roasted chicken. Always on wholemeal bread or wraps and stored in tupperware or baking paper - we are a cling-film free house!

  • raw veggies like chopped carrots, cucumbers and peppers with or without hummus

  • hard boiled eggs and slices of cheese (not great if it’s very warm but this is Ireland so not much of a risk!)

  • fruit - either whole like apples and oranges or chopped like melon and pineapple

  • popcorn - a much healthier option than crisps. Sometimes I throw in a couple of dark chocolate chips to make a trail mix

  • water, water, water - I freeze the bottles in advance if I’m organised and it’s warm. Then the water stays cool all day. I also love these metal bottles at www.littleones.ie

  • if I’m super organised, I might have healthy baked goods like banana and apple muffins from Mummy Cooks or flapjacks. If I don’t have anything made, I’ll buy the kids an ice-cream or similar. I tend not to bring family packs of jellies or packets of biscuits or bars because once they are opened, it’s a free for all (with my lot anyway!) so I would rather they have an individual “treat” to keep portion sizes under control (she says laughing!).

And here’s some non-food essentials I’ll also pack:

  • talcum powder if going to the beach - great for getting sand off hands

  • a Kiddies Food Kutter for chopping cheese, apples etc

  • suncream, of course

  • paper towel for spills, drying hands, wrapping food etc. We don’t use baby wipes as they are not great for the environment.

So get your picnic basket (or shopping bag!) out, load it up and get out in nature to make the most of the last few days before school starts again.