The Granola Gourmand: Ideas and Tips for Family Outdoor Dining

By | September 8, 2011

Thinking about a picnic this weekend? Here in the northern states, September seems to have ushered in Autumn. Every weekend from now on with even a hint of warmth could be our last hurrah. So are we thinking about a picnic this weekend? You betcha!

Eating outside is a summer tradition with us, and picnics are extra special. If we can stow a decent lunch in a pack, we don’t have to worry so much about making sure we get the timing right when we go out for a hike (or whatever else we have planned). We can go when we’re ready and stay out as long as we like.

If you plan ahead, the prepping and planning can be a time to get the kids involved. We try to involve Grace from the start. A little buy-in at the planning stage may not guarantee she’ll eat what we put out, but it gives us the chance to say, “Look, you picked it. You better eat it.”

When pulling together a menu, we have a chance to make healthy choices, so we include a lot of fruit and veggies. With a couple freezer packs, fruits and veggies will stay fine all day. Foods with mayo or eggs or ham, we usually leave at home. For protein we will toss a package of lunch meat in the bag, usually right on top of the cold pack.

For our last trip I came up with the idea of using up our whole wheat tortillas by making “Salad Wraps.” (Yeah, I know. I should copyright this kind of thing, but I think genius should be shared. When you tell your friends all about the Salad Wrap, be sure to use the name. I swear it will catch on like wildfire and you will get props for being an early adopter.) The plan was as simple as the name itself.

Before we left, my wife put together a quick fruit salad with the fruit we had on hand. Then she chopped up some romaine, red peppers, and a handful of tiny carrots. This went into the Rubbermaid, topped with some slivered almonds.

This is the picnic table we found at the trail head at the state park. In addition to the fruit and veggie salads, we have a bottle of dressing (raspberry vinaigrette, nummm), a bottle for the boy, the tortillas, a few cheese sticks, and (hidden behind the salad) a pack of Little Debbie chocolate doughnuts.

Pour the salad out onto the tortillas.

Add lunch meat, in this case turkey, for protein.

Add dressing.

Wrap it up.

And eat!

There are a thousand other things you can bring on the trail or in the car: hummus and pita chips, pasta salad with an olive oil based dressing (again, no mayo), apples and oranges, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, etc., etc.

If you have a favorite picnic snack tell us about it. We’re always looking for great ideas.

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