How to Pack the Perfect Picnic


By Jemma Howlett

With the summer heating up it’s time to go outside and soak up as much sun as possible! Whether you’re enjoying a casual weekend lunch, a unique date, or a quick dinner, picnics are always a fun, simple option. And these DIY meals make for a cheaper date or outing than sitting in a restaurant and they can be much more flexible and exciting. But it can be overwhelming to figure out what to whip up and bring to your perfect picnic. Here are some ideas to make it easier for you, for both homemade and completely purchased picnics.

Epic Homemade Picnic:

If you have some extra time on your hands, try out any combo of these home-style recipes to impress your friends with your picnic prowess.

Oven Fried Picnic Chicken

Oregano, garlic, basil, and marjoram provide a blast of delicious seasoning for this recipe. The flavorful chicken can be served warm or cold and is a summer classic.

Mexican Quinoa Wraps

If you fancy something healthier than the fried chicken, try these one-pan quinoa wraps. Prep takes only 30 minutes, with little mess and delicious results! And don’t worry, this isn’t just a bland health food wrap—the combination of spices, avocado, fresh veggies, and lime juice makes it an irresistible treat.

Pasta Salad

This picnic staple cannot be beat. There are so many easy-to-make, easy-to-transport, and great-tasting pasta salad recipes, you can pick the one that looks the best to you. Or try all of them!

Beet and Feta Dip

Instead of the traditional go-to picnic dip (hummus), try this exciting alternative. Bring along raw veggies and pita chips to dip!

One-bowl brownies

It takes just 15 minutes and minimal effort to bake these fudgy brownies—a decadent finishing touch for your summer picnic feast. Remember to cut the brownies before hand to make them easier to eat later on!

Grocery Store Grab-and-Go:

If you don’t have the time (or the energy) to prepare food at home, it’s easy enough to grab items from the grocery store that are ready to eat or can be assembled in the park.

Precut Fruit

Most grocery stores offer pre-cut fruit such as melon, cantaloupe, and pineapple. This is the ideal, healthy addition to any picnic. Sometimes this sliced fruit can be expensive though, so less costly alternatives: apples, oranges, and grapes are also delicious.


Buy a baguette that you can then tear off pieces to eat with various toppings or create sandwiches.

Fresh Mozzarella and Prosciutto

Just the toppings you need to make a quick sandwich with your baguette. If you’re feeling fancy, pick up some basil, too!

Baby Carrots

Baby carrots are great because they are pre-washed, pre-cut goodness. Use them to dip in your hummus.


Some traditions are traditions for a reason. Pack the popular chickpea spread in your cooler for your bread or your carrots.

Chips and Salsa

A perennial favorite for the dash of spice every picnic needs.

Top Tips:

• Don’t forget silverware! If you are coming from home, try to use as much reusable silverware as possible to be eco-friendly. If you’re packing a picnic out of the grocery store and they don’t have silverware, you can always pop into a fast food restaurant to stock up on plastic cutlery.

• Make sure the food is room temperature before packing it away in your containers so that it doesn’t cause condensation inside your containers and make your caref treats watery.

• Be careful with leftovers. After spending the afternoon or evening in the sun, your ice will have melted, and your food may may have spent too much time at room temperature to be considered safe to eat. So think twice about saving your scraps for another time, especially if your meal contains meat or dairy products.

• Bring along a Frisbee or a football and continue the outdoor fun! Why not get moving after your picnic feast?

• Don’t forget condiments like ketchup and hot sauce if you like to add a little kick to your grub.

Not sure where to picnic? Here’s a List of great picnic spots in NYC:

• The High Line: If you want some built-in seating, go to the High Line to eat your spread. Fair warning, you might have to wait a while for seats to free up at this popular spot.

• Bryant Park: Trees provide shade and the grass a carpet in the concrete jungle making this park a favorite for lounging as well as eating.

• Hudson River Park: Eat with a view of the water gliding, runners running, and bikers biking on a comfortable bench.

• Prospect Park: The Central Park of Brooklyn, this green oasis cannot be beat.

• And of course, the tried-and-true Central Park: Nowhere can beat this massive green space perfect for running, biking, kayaking, people watching, and picnicking! Top spots include: Sheep Meadow, Belvedere Castle, Bow Bridge, and the Great Lawn.

We hope this list will help inspire you to get picnicking!

Jemma HowlettJemma Howlett is a writer, runner, traveller, college student, and carb-enthusiast. Check out her coffee blog,, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jemmahow