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Let’s Go On a Picnic!
Warmer weather is here, school has ended, the children need activities and gas prices are zooming. What better way to keep your kids occupied and stay close to home than to have a picnic! This can be as close as your backyard or at your local park. There’s no need to drive miles if the activity is fun!

The best part about a picnic is it can be as simple or elaborate as you want. And planning your lunch can be a family activity as well. Here are ideas for different type of picnics. Pick whichever suits your style!

The Easy Picnic

You will need:
  • A loaf of bread
  • A jar of peanut butter
  • A jar of jam or jelly
  • Fresh whole fruit
  • A jug of cold water
  • Napkins, cups, a spreading knife and an old blanket
Toss everything into a big bag or backpack and off you go.

The Fun Picnic

With your children, make assorted kabobs:

  • Meat and cheese kabobs. Try chunks of cooked ham steak alternating with chunks of cheese.

  • Vegetable kabobs. Chunks of cucumbers, green peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes or any vegetable your child likes that can be skewered.

  • Fruit kabobs. Pineapple chunks, grapes, fresh peach slices and watermelon cubes. Avoid fruits that turn brown after cutting, like apples and bananas.

Slide the food onto wooden skewers, making sure to cut off the pointed end when done. Let your kids be creative when making the kabobs. They’ll be more inclined to eat something they’ve made themselves.

Place them into zipper food bags, putting like foods together. Pack in a cooler bag with ice packs, placing the meat kabobs directly onto the ice packs, if possible.

The kabobs can be considered finger food, but if you want something really special, toss in a few forks and use vanilla yogurt as a fruit dip! Just make sure to keep the yogurt chilled when not being used.

The Elaborate Picnic

The recipe for this picnic takes some preparation the day before, but the results are worth it!

Fruity chicken salad in green pepper boats

For the salad:
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast (halves)
  • Fresh cantaloupe, cut into small cubes (grapes also work well)
  • ½ seedless cucumber, cut into small cubes

1. Cook the chicken breasts thoroughly and refrigerate overnight. The day of the picnic, chop chicken, cantaloupe and cucumber into small pieces, to avoid choking, and put into a medium bowl.

2. Add ¼ cup plain yogurt, ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise, ½ teaspoon crumbled dried tarragon (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh) and ¼ teaspoon salt.

3. Mix together, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to go. Meanwhile, slice a half green pepper for each child and scoop out the seeds for your boat. Nest them together and wrap in plastic wrap.

4. Pack the salad in an insulated cooler with ice packs, making sure the chicken salad is in contact with your ice. When it’s time for your picnic, fill the pepper halves with the chicken salad. You will also need a few thin carrot sticks and cheese slices cut diagonally in half. These will be your “sails.”

Toss a tablecloth into a bag to make your meal really special. Have the children pick some wildflowers for a centerpiece if you’re in an area where they’re available.

Whatever picnic you choose, it’s important to pack all perishables in a separate cooler that will not be opened until you’re ready to eat. Pack your drinks and non-perishable snacks in a different bag.

We tend to look at picnics as activities that require preplanning and a lot of work, but children remember them—not for the food, but for the quality time with a parent. Whether you choose a simple or elaborate picnic, turn off your cell phone, play with your kids and have a wonderful time. These are the times that make lasting memories.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant