July is Picnic Month

Nothing beats a beautiful summer day with a cool breeze, enjoying delicious food with people you love. While this sounds lovely, it takes a bit of planning to get there. The secret to a perfect picnic is to keep it simple. Be strategic. Sometimes less is more. Take charge and select foods that will keep you full and satisfied. Include fiber-rich, healthful foods that will satisfy you for hours. Avoid packing excessive foods that are full of empty calories that can make you drag and feel hungry all day long. When planning to bring food that will remain outdoors for several hours, pack accordingly. Choose foods that won’t wilt, melt, or spoil easily in the heat.

Need some inspiration? Check out these tasty ideas to inspire your picnic spread and your summer menus:

  • Enjoy all the seasonal produce: Take advantage of all the local summer produce and incorporate it into everything from appetizers through desserts.
  • Starters: Pack your cooler with a variety of crisp, raw veggies like cucumbers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and radishes. Take along dips like hummus, salsa, or low-fat yogurt with herbs and spices. Pick them up at McCaffrey’s or make you own.
  • Sides: Create healthy and delicious picnic foods with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans.
    • Try this delicious Mediterranean Summer Salad loaded with potatoes, tomatoes and crisp green beans. It is an easy summer recipe, perfect for a picnic destination or a potluck dish.
    • Make vegetable kabobs with raw cubed zucchini and summer squash, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. These can be enjoyed raw or grilled at the picnic destination.
    • This Veggie Pasta Salad is made with whole grain pasta and can be enjoyed as a healthy side dish or light entree.
    • If beans are your thing, this protein packed Kale, White Bean and Tomato Salad is a delicious combination that travels well.
    • For a quick and easy pantry Mexican Bean Salad, combine a can of black beans (drained/rinsed), corn, chopped Mexican-style tomatoes and a chopped red pepper. Mix in a pinch of cumin, a shake of cayenne and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • The Main Course does not need to be the star: Get creative and use the main course to complement the whole meal.
  • Sweet Endings: Dessert is a must at any picnic. A colorful fruit platter or fruit salad is sure to satisfy. Check out some fun and healthful dessert ideas using seasonal blueberries and watermelon.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate: Beat the heat with plenty of ice water, sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea, and an assortment of low-calorie beverages. Freeze water bottles the night before and use as cold packs to keep food and drinks cold.
  • One last note: Make sure your picnic food maintains safe temperatures by tightly packing cold food into one cooler and drinks in another. Don’t let food set out for more than two hours or, if very hot, limit to one hour. Happy Picnicking!

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