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How to Pack the Perfect Picnic Lunch

As summer winds down, it’s the perfect time to have a picnic. The temperatures will begin to cool off making it more comfortable to be outdoors. The scenery will begin to turn even more beautiful. To make this picnic perfect, you will need to make sure you have everything you need.

We love going on picnics and bringing delicious picnic foods, so I am happy to partner with Aunt Nellie’s and READ Salads to bring you these picnic packing tips.

Tips for packing the perfect picnic lunch--find out what to pack and how to make the most of your picnic. Summertime | Fall | Lunch | Picnic | Canned Beets | Outdoors | Family Meals
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Make the most of this last bit of summer by having some family picnics. I want to share my picnic packing list with you.

Picnic Packing List

1. A Basket

Of course, the first item you will need is some type of picnic basket. I love mine.

Planning a Picnic

2. A Blanket/Tablecloth

Whether you are sitting at a picnic table or having a traditional picnic on the ground, you will want something to lie down to sit on or set the food on. We have a blanket that coordinates perfectly with our picnic basket. This is perfect for an intimate picnic with your loved ones.

Planning a Picnic Blanket

(You know you’re a parent when…you don’t notice the sticker on your shirt until you review the photos…it made us laugh so hard; I had to include the picture here for you.)

3. Utensils, Plates, and Napkins/Wipes

When I am packing any type of lunch, I tend to forget some of the most important items needed…the utensils, plates, and napkins. I’ve brought delicious salads and messy treats but was unable to enjoy them because I had no way of eating them or no way of cleaning up. This may sound so simple, but they really are easy to forget, so be sure to pack them in your basket.

Aunt Nellie's Picnic Basket

4. Picnic-Friendly Food

The main attraction–picnic food. What do you pack for a picnic lunch? I try to pack a variety of foods that are quick and easy, travel well, and the whole family will enjoy. One food I absolutely love bringing along for picnics is muffins. We recently tried the Red Velvet Muffins from the Aunt Nellie’s website. They are made with beets! Fun fact–red velvet is traditionally made with beets as opposed to red dye. The muffins were delicious, you couldn’t even taste the beets (score for hidden vegetables) and the cinnamon spice was a nice touch.

Aunt Nellie's Red Velvet Muffins in Basket

Aunt Nellie’s has a variety of canned beets along with other products like red cabbage, onions, carrots, and beans. Their other brand, READ Salads, has a variety of bean salads and German potato salad. I love using products like these in recipes (there are some really great ones on their websites), but you can even enjoy them just as they are. The bean salads and potato salad go so well for picnics and you don’t even need to make a fancy recipe. The Harvard Beets are tasty right from the jar too. Even if you are not going on a picnic, Aunt Nellie’s and READ Salad products are convenient for school and work lunches; READ Salads even has individual bean salad cups. We have been enjoying the Red Velvet Muffins we made with beets for breakfast and with lunch.

Be sure to subscribe to the Aunt Nellie’s/READ Salads newsletter on their site for more great information and recipes!

Aunt Nellie's Beets

Here are some picnic-friendly food ideas:

  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, and oranges
  • Muffins
  • Canned vegetables
  • Bean, potato, pasta, fruit, lettuce salads
  • Sandwiches or sandwich makings
  • Flavored breads
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Soup (either chilled soups or hot soup in a thermos)–this is especially great for end-of-summer and beginning-of-fall picnics
  • Cookies
  • Dried fruits and nuts
Aunt Nellie's Picnic Square

5. Beverages

We can’t forget something to drink! It’s important to stay hydrated, so be sure to pack a lot of water, maybe some juice boxes, or some delicious sparkling juice for the special occasion. Bringing a large water cooler is a great idea for family picnics.

Print the checklist for free below:

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Download Your Free Picnic Lunch Packing List

6. Games/Activities

Whenever we have enjoyed picnics, they include playing outside. Family-friendly games and sports are a great ideas to take your picnic to another level. Bring along a soccer ball, a baseball and mitts, a frisbee, ladder golf, or a kite to spend some quality time together.

Aunt Nellie’s and READ Salads are having a sweepstakes! You can enter on the Aunt Nellie’s website and on the READ Salads website. Winner will receive a product package and a $500 VISA gift card! Ends September 5, 2016.

Aunt Nellie's Picnic 2

What are your favorite picnic foods? Do you bring anything else along for your picnic lunches? Share with me in the comments! I’d love to hear!

They’re letting me give you some exclusive prizes too! Enter below for a chance to win a $25 VISA gift card and a product prize pack!

Read also: 85 Awesome Date Night Ideas for Parents and Cinnamon Apple Zucchini Muffins

Know someone who would love this? Hit the “share” buttons below! Be sure to follow Arts & Crackers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or the others at the top right!

Giveaway ended.

Aunt Nellie's Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $25 VISA gift card and a product prize pack!

Entering is simple! Complete the mandatory entry. After this, complete as many entries as you want to earn more chances to win!

Entries are verified–incomplete entries will be discarded and all entries are discarded if the mandatory is not filled.

Disclaimer: Arts & Crackers is not responsible for any accidents that may be caused by use of this product. This giveaway is in no way sponsored/endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google. No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. All entries will be verified; invalid or incomplete entries will be discarded–Arts & Crackers is all about honesty. Please do not just “unlike” or “unfollow” pages after the giveaway. Giveaway open to legal residents of the USA and ends at 11:59 pm EST on 8/22/2016. Winner will be chosen at random and have 48 hours from the point of notification to claim his/her prize.


  1. When my children were little we would use a large mouth thermos bottle to bring hot dogs on our trips up north to visit Grandma and Grandpa. It would save us a lot of time and money. BTW, I love pickled beets so I would love to win your prize.

  2. My favorite picnic food include fruit salad, crackers, wraps, and cookies!

  3. On our picnics we bring along, cheese, fruit, bread and lunchmeat.

  4. We love going on picnics and I always bring along drinks, sandwiches, fresh fruit, cookies!

  5. We usually do sandwiches and chips but we like to bring along a Frisbee or ball to play with afterwards!

  6. This would be a nice way to liven up our picnics. We usually have sandwiches, dessert and fruit.

  7. I love to bring chicken salad sandwiches and fruit tarts to picnic with my boys.

  8. The kids love picnics. We usually pack sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips,crackers and cheese.

  9. My favorite picnic foods include tuna salad and pickles.

  10. My favorite picnic includes cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine

  11. Love these tips! And I agree with Will on the cheese and wine 😉

  12. I do not think I would like pickled beets, but I am willing to give them a try.

  13. I love pickled beets! My favorite picnic foods are fruits, veggies and string cheese

  14. I don’t think I would like pickled beets, but you never know unless you try them!

  15. We love picnics at the local park. We just had one last week.

  16. picnics are so fun. I love to bring fruit and PB&J sandwiches

  17. I love making picnic lunches for drives out to the country. I could improve, but I typically make a salad, a separate dressing, sandwiches already made, juice, and homemade energy bars. I love beets, and would love to try these We like to stop somewhere for ice cream!

  18. Oh we love having picnics! Our little one loves wind turbines, so we go down about once a week and watch it go around and around and around..and bring a picnic lunch! I love all your ideas! We usually just bring a sandwich and fruit, but you have some great ideas for us!

  19. We love going on picnics and we always bring finger foods and fresh fruit and juice.

  20. I always take fruit and veggies on picnics as well as meats & cheeses to make sandwiches. I love to also take potato salad as long as I can keep it cold.

  21. natasha lamoreux

    We take turkey sandwiches and chips on our picnics!

  22. I would love to try Aunt Nellie’s! Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. I would love to try Sweet and Sour Harvard Beets, the flavor sounds interesting. Thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  24. We always take fruit and cheese, with crackers on our picnics.

  25. My grandpa use to take us on lake picnics and he always brought fried chicken. Its my favorite.

  26. Stephanie Phelps

    My favorite picnic lunch is hero sandwiches and fruit. Sometimes we bring along some kettle chips or potato salad

  27. My favorite picnic foods are sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, pretzels and peaches or plums.
    Thank you!

  28. For a picnic, there’s nothing like grilling hot dogs until they’re charred. Then serve with all the fixings & chips.

  29. elizabeth miller

    I absolutely love pickled beets!! I like them with a mean or a snack. On picnics we usually have all kinds of crackers, meat slices, cheeses, and fruit.

  30. First of all, I love picnics with the brown woven basket and a blanket. The food – variety, but preferably easy to carry type. 😀

  31. Picnics always need to have 3 bean salad. And any day with pickled beets is a good day!

  32. I love taking simple leftovers with us for picnics, whether it be pizza or chicken or whatever! Fruits and crackers & cheese are our other go-to picnic fodder. 🙂 I love beets, but I have not tried this kind, so I would love to!

  33. We haven’t gone on a picnic in a very long time. But to me, the perfect picnic food (other than sandwiches) is cut-up watermelon. And some melon balls!

  34. My favorite picnic foods would probably be potato salad, chips and sandwiches although I’ve never been on a picnic.

  35. Sandwiches are our go-to picnic food because they’re so easy. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad are also great if it’s summertime and you’re grilling at the park. We always make sure to take plenty of drinks too!

  36. We like to have cheese, bologna & crackers to bring along.

  37. Growing up, I was always told that I didn’t like beets. Imagine my surprise when I finally tasted one when in my late 20s! I love them in soups and salads or by themselves, cooked every and anyway possible. In fact, had them with dinner this evening.

  38. We love picnics and enjoy bringing sandwiches, potato salad, chips and fruit along with juice or water.

  39. My kids go on picnics all the time with their Great Aunt. I pack for them either sandwiches or sometimes they take hot dogs to grill out. Then they have chips, fruit, and sometimes cheese and crackers. It usually varies.

  40. we always have sandwich chips and fruit and cheese on our picnics

  41. Kristin Williams

    I love your picnic basket!! Great blog!!

  42. On our picnics we always have fried chicken (I dont know why) maybe its a tradition ha! We also have potato salad, some kind of finger foods like cheese and crackers and water or juice, We keep it pretty simple.

  43. turkey and cheese sandwiches, chips, fruit, pickles and drinks.

  44. my picnic food is fruit salad and chips and drinks and hot dogs i dont know i love hot dogs when we go to have a picnic and cold cold drinks

  45. We love cheese and sandwiches on picnics!

  46. Picnics are awesome fun especially when the weather is starting to cool off. I always like to bring homemade lemonade, grapes, cheddar & Swiss Cheese cubes, seasoned crackers, & lots of laughter.

  47. LaTanya Thornhill

    We like potato salad and sandwiches with fruits

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