Get out the picnic blanket. Tag your significant other or BFF. Pick the perfect spot. Bring a picnic basket. It's a date! Invite your besties or a special someone, or plan a solo date al fresco picnic at the park. Check out this list of picnic foods for date night and recipes for a great outdoor meal.
The best picnics are the ones you don't have to think about — a few go-to recipes, a good loaf of bread, and a little bit of preparation go a long way. If you're interested in historical picnic inspiration, check out this documentary from 1944!
Plan the Perfect Picnic Date
The best thing about picnics is that they're typically laid-back, easy, and don't require much forethought. But if you want your picnic date to be a well-oiled machine that leaves both of you relaxed and satisfied (there's something about picnicking that makes us feel absolute satisfaction), there are a few things to keep in mind.
When packing for a picnic, there are two things to remember: the food and the gear. Both need to be considered because if it's not thought out ahead
of time and packed with care, your date could quickly go wrong—and who wants that? So you want everything to be as effortless as possible.
While these ideas will be helpful when planning a romantic picnic for two or more, feel free to check these out if you're hosting family or bringing the kids along.
Plan your day ahead of time
Make sure you're prepared and bring everything you need ahead of your date. If you have time, shop for food a day or two ahead of time. Pack your picnic in advance so all you have to do is unpack and enjoy.
Pack everything separately so it's easy to find what you need when setting up your food and drinks. Use small containers and bags so nothing spills or gets lost in the bottom of your basket or bag. And make sure everything is sturdy enough to survive being squashed under other things during transit!
Plan your menu carefully
Think about what types of food will go together well in terms of taste and texture (e.g., meat with vegetables). This will help ensure everyone enjoys their meal without getting too full too quickly! Also, consider how easy each dish is to prepare — some take longer than others, so leave.
Picnic Food Ideas to Try
There are many options for great picnic lunch or dinner. Of course, you could go with sandwiches or salads, but these ideas are only to get you started. Here are some easy picnic food suggestions to make your date stand out.
Potato Salad: Potato salad is the quintessential picnic food. It's easy to pack and travels well even if you don't have a cooler. If you're concerned about keeping mayonnaise-based salads cool, why not off for a warm potato salad instead?
Fruit Salad: A fresh fruit salad is another healthy option for picnics. If you're going with tradition, try adding a few different fruits like strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries to your favorite Jell-O mix. Also, you can mix some grapes or melon to make it more interesting.
Charcuterie Board: A charcuterie board is great for a picnic because it gives people something interesting to snack on. You can find pre-made charcuterie boards at most grocery stores today, but if you're ambitious, try making your own with cheese, crusty bread, and cured meat like Salami, Prosciutto, Capicola cheeses, Cheddar, and Gouda.
Flavorful vegetables like carrots and cucumbers make an excellent picnic snack. You can bring them raw and eat them straight from the bag or box.
Egg salad is another delicious option for picnics. It's easy to make and will keep you full until your next meal.
Finger foods are fun for your guests to eat without utensils, so plan to bring some potato chips or other snacks that can be eaten without plates or bowls.
Hard-boiled eggs are delicious and a great picnic option because you can make them ahead; they travel well and are great cold. You can also add mayo or mustard for extra flavor.
Pantry Picnic Ideas
From water bottles and juice boxes to wine bottles and beer cans, there are plenty of options for picnicking beverages to pair with your meal.
Cold pasta salad: Pasta salad is another great picnic food because it's easy to make ahead of time and can be served at room temperature. Make a basil pesto dressing or sun-dried tomatoes to your pasta salad for an Italian twist. For extra flavor and texture, add olives, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes.
Best Picnic Drinks
Non-alcoholic beverage option: a spirit-free drink option is great because it will keep you hydrated but gives an option to not drink!
Fresh squeezed lemonade to me, is the perfect drink for a picnic because it's easy to transport and serve in bottles or cups without worrying about spills.
In warmer weather, fruit juice and seltzer are easy, refreshing options. When the temps get cooler, some warm apple cider in a thermos will hit the spot.
White wine is great for picnics because it goes well with various foods, including cheese and other creamy dishes.
Alcoholic drinks are great for picnics because they help keep everyone happy and relaxed while they enjoy the outdoors and each other's company! If you're serving alcohol, make sure to have plenty of glasses available for people to share.
Bottle of Wine: A bottle of wine makes an excellent way to relax while enjoying your picnic. Make sure to bring a bottle opener and drinking vessels that won't easily break.
Picnic Date Gear
If you're trying to plan a picnic on a budget, starting with your pantry will help you lower costs! Here are some ideas where you'll eat well and eat cheap!
The following items will be a good start on having the best time and a stress-free date.
Bottle opener. Have a bottle opener on hand if you plan on bringing any beer bottles! This will ensure that everyone can enjoy their drinks without worrying about manually opening them up.
Picnic basket or bag: You'll need something to carry your food in. You could go for a classic picnic basket, but if you're going on a long hike, you may want to bring a backpack instead of something that will weigh down your arms or shoulders too much.
Blanket or tablecloth: Depending on where you're going to have your picnic, a table cover may not be necessary. But if you'll be outside with no shelter from the sun or rain, bring one along so that you can cover yourself up when needed. A good picnic blanket is a must. Not only does it protect your clothes from getting dirty, but it also helps keep you warm in case it gets cold during your trip.
Plates and utensils: even if you're using finger foods, plan your tableware ahead of your meal. Make sure everyone has their own knives and containers to enjoy their meal without getting their hands dirty.
A cutting board can be handy when preparing food or setting up the picnic area. A cutting board also helps keep everything organized and clean.
Ice packs help keep food cool longer, which means less time sitting around waiting for things to cool down before eating them! You can store these freezer packs in the cooler or wrap them around bottles of wine to keep them chilled.
A cozy blanket is essential for keeping warm when it gets chilly out! It's also helpful to spread some snacks across your blanket so that everyone isn't reaching.
Trash bags. Plastic bags can come in handy if you don't want things like cigarette butts and other debris littering your space.
Meal Planning Ideas
There's more to packing a picnic than just throwing some food in a basket. Sometimes you have to plan for the weather, diners with different dietary restrictions, or well...ants! Here are some ideas for crafting a menu.
- What will the weather be like? If it's going to be warm, ensure you don't bring anything that can spoil easily (like meat or dairy products). If it will be cold, think about items that can be served at room temperature or even warm up quickly (such as soup).
- Are there any dietary restrictions? Consider making sure options are available for those who might be vegan or gluten-free. Or try bringing something everyone can enjoy together — like fruit salad or brownies!
Ideas for Picnic Activities
It's good to plan for an activity for your date, like a game of badminton or some Frisbee tossing. You never know if that will be what you end up doing—it's always good to bring it along just in case.
Don't feel you need to ensure that's what you do the whole time, either. Be open to whatever might pop up! Here are some romantic picnic date ideas and activities to make your date special.
Card games: Cards are great for picnics because they don't take up much space, can be played with just two people, and have many different card games. Bring a deck or two of your favorite cards and some snacks.
Outdoor concerts: Many cities have free outdoor concerts during the summer months at local parks and lakes. It's a great way to spend a warm evening listening to music while enjoying nature together!
Badminton: If you're bringing this along with you, be sure it comes with a net and two sets of rackets. A nice thing about badminton is that it doesn't take up much space and is easy to set up when you get there—unfold the net and put out the rackets.
Frisbee: Another fun outdoor game is Frisbee golf or ultimate frisbee (if there's enough open space). Just make sure to have enough discs!