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I love a great picnic! They bring a sense of intimacy to any day trip and are much more warm and inviting than going to a restaurant full of people….or worse a fast food joint.
In recent years, with our financial journey, we’ve used picnics as a way to have fun with the kids while still being able to save money.
When we go to a theme park, we pack a cooler with snacks, drinks, and lunch. We take an hour break from the rides and picnic by the car and reflect on our day so far.
Picnics are a great way to spend time with your family over a meal. Even more, you save a lot of money by packing your own food, since it’s one less thing you have to buy at your destination.
Here are some of my family’s favorite picnic food choices that we take along with us on a day out.
My kids always look forward to lunch and I look forward to more money saved.
1- Chicken or tuna salad
This is a simple recipe but is packed with flavor. I made the chicken salad version (literally you just substitute the tuna for chicken) for my daughter’s tea party themed birthday party and it was a huge hit. In fact, it was the first tea sandwich that was wiped out.
2- Submarine Sandwiches
How many people go to subway for a quick fill on a day trip? For my family, a Subway visit costs about $40 easily.
So, I make my own submarine sandwiches for less than $1 per sandwich. Each sandwich is about the size of a 6-inch sub at Subway. I pack some chips, granola bars and fruit, and we’re good to go.
Here is the breakdown of my $0.71 submarine sandwiches:
Bolillo rolls (found at any bakery)- $0.25 each, $1 for 4 rolls
Turkey deli meat (2 ounces per sandwich)- $3.69 per pound, $0.23 per ounce= $1.84 for 8 ounces
Roma tomato (1 tomato sliced and added to 3 sandwiches, one kid doesn’t like tomatoes)- $0.69 per pound, $0.08 per tomato
Iceberg Lettuce- $0.99 per head, using 1 leaf per sandwich, approximately 20 leaves per small head= approximately $0.20 for 4 leaves
Mayonnaise- $4.69 per 60 serving container (1 TBSP serving); using a TBSP for each sandwich, 4 TBSPs total= $0.31 for 4 TBSP
Kraft Singles Cheese- About $10 from Costco for 100 singles= $0.10 per single, $0.40 for 4 singles
Total for all 4 sandwiches= $2.83; Total per sandwich= $0.71
3. Breakfast to go
It sounds odd that you would eat breakfast at a picnic, but think of how fun that would be!
Make french toast fingers and pack the syrup in small containers for dipping. Have some egg sandwiches on english muffins with cheese and pack some coffee or tea in a thermos. Take some quiche or a frittata for added protein.
Be creative with your picnic meals, you don’t have to stick to the traditional cold cut sandwich and potato salad. Breakfast is a delicious meal to share with family or friends anytime. It’s a great way to eat on a picnic.
This is one of my absolute favorites. It is super simple to make and can be served cold or room temperature. Because it doesn’t contain mayonnaise, it can withstand being outdoors for several hours.
Besides its practicality, it’s absolutely delicious and filling. You can take it as a main dish or side dish. Either way, it makes for a great picnic option.
5. Bbq during the Picnic
Take marinated steak or kebabs to bbq AT the picnic! A small hibachi will do the job. Alongside the meat, pack pasta salad or greens. This is an excellent way to eat hot, fresh food that won’t spoil throughout the day.
6. Deviled Eggs
Eggs are easy to make, cheap to buy and yummy to eat. Deviled eggs are a great option for picnics because they store well in a cooler and they taste great cold or room temperature.
The protein will keep your family full and the creaminess makes them feel fancy and decadent.
7. Spinach dip with crackers
On Easter Sunday, when our entire 100-person family meets at the park, my cousin brings a foil tray full of spinach dip. She uses the Knorr recipe, which is simple and minimal in ingredients. It’s always one of my favorite things to eat. We use wheat thins for dipping. Yum!
Having leftovers at a picnic is a great way to enjoy food without having to put any additional effort into preparing or cooking. Have a picnic with your leftovers breathes a second wind into a meal.
If you want to slightly re-purpose the leftover, that will make it even better.
Shred some leftover meat or chicken and take taco toppings for an outdoor taco meal. Or take leftover casserole next to a salad. Re-purposing and eating up all your leftovers will make you feel good, fill up your stomach, and leave you to focus on family time.
9. Finger foods are perfect for a Picnic
What’s better than sitting at the park or the beach and eating with your hands? Having simple finger foods like tea sandwiches, chips, boneless buffalo chicken can make your outing fun and filling.
The more simple you are with the food, the less prep time you need, which means more time to spend with your loved ones.
Picnics are all about quality time with loved ones. Food is second to you making memories with your family. So, simplify, bring along food that your family loves and reduce the cost by making it at home.