My kids are constantly asking, “Can we eat outside today?” Turns out, a picnic can be made from just about anything. Here are some great picnic food ideas!
If we’re packing a picnic to take to a park, we tend to think about sandwiches and chips. But what if anything and everything can turn into “eat it outside” food? Especially when you just head outside to your own yard with your plate.
Two things about our life right now:
- With so many littles, our days can be lonnnnnnng. It can be tough to keep so many small people safe and occupied for so many hours. Yes, I am enjoying them. Meanwhile, our days with the kids start around 6:30am and are very intense until 8:00pm with our littles being 1, 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 – each with some level of special need or trauma. I have to be very intentional about staying on top of keeping our kids busy and occupied, otherwise the meltdowns and behaviors are pretty tough.
- So I tend to try to make something fun out of nothing and everything, just to make our days a little bit more enjoyable.
Sometimes food just needs to serve a purpose: to fill our bellies. But if there’s any way I can easily make food fun, the kids love it. Eating a “picnic” outside in our yard always makes them so excited!
Matt was out of town one weekend so the kids and I blew up our tiny baby pool and all seven babes had fun splashing around. (We had seven littles that weekend instead of our normal six because a half-brother/former foster son was visiting us!)
As we toweled off, I had our 6 and 8-year-olds drag our little picnic tables around so we could eat outside after playing. They loved the idea the same as if I’d offered to take them to Disneyland. They sat there loving life and lunch, soggy diapers and all.
I have found that most foods that work well to feed children inside work just as well to feed children outside for a “picnic.” Think beyond sandwiches and hotdogs and simply make any meal a picnic!
Like enchiladas. Weird idea? Well, one evening, Matt was painting a gutter on our house. The kids loved the “show” so as dinnertime approached and I had a pan of these enchiladas in the oven, I simply scooped some onto paper plates and carried them outside for the kids to eat on the trampoline. Again, they thought it was better than Disneyland. (Also, they’ve never been to Disneyland, so…)
Great Picnic Food Ideas
Here are some foods we’ve eaten outside lately:
Bean and Cheese Quesadillas, which I cut into triangles so that the kids could all grab them easily. I washed strawberries and we carried them outside to the table as-is. Then I squirted ranch into a bowl and dumped in some carrots for a community bowl of carrots with dip!
Another day when I was on my own with all the littles, I made a bunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the morning before the babies got up and covered the plate to grab at lunchtime. I put a can of mandarins and a can of peaches into the fridge to chill. I was so thankful I’d prepped ahead because our morning was full! When we were ready to eat, we took the prepped sandwiches, cold fruit, a jar of pickles, and some avocado cups outside and feasted. :)
We have a fire pit in our backyard, and the kids LOVE it when Daddy gets a fire going. We only do this when Elias and Malachi (our 20 and 17-year-olds) are around because it’s a bit intense to keep so many little ones safe when we’re trying to cook hotdogs and feed littles and oh yes, did I mention that Elias got a dog who tries to eat children? (Just kidding. But she does like hotdogs.)
I shared here about how we pack food to eat on a blanket when we go to our older boys’ games. Hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, chicken sandwiches, burritos – even a container full of hot chicken nuggets! Get more details —>
I didn’t get a picture of any of us eating this particular time, but one spring soccer game day, I made a big batch of Omelet Muffins for the kids to eat while they watched Malachi play. It was easy to transport these and all of us loved them!
Chicken Salad with rolls, croissants, bread, or crackers is easy to take outside or take to a park. Here’s more info about what we took to a fun family picnic when we had time with all of our kids from oldest to youngest this spring.
Snacks to Eat Outside
And how about picnic-y snacks too? If we are outside playing, I often run inside and grab something for the kids to eat outside if I can tell they are getting hungry and need something to hold them over. Eating snacks on the porch is – you guessed it – more fun than going to Disneyland. :)
Apples and cheese fly off the plate when I take them outside.
Why does everything taste better outside?
Here are three of the kids sharing a little bowl of fruit:
We go through a lot of Mudballs at our house, and these are super easy to grab and take outside for kids to eat while they play.
The best thing about eating muffins outside during snack time? All the crumbs fall to the ground instead of under our kitchen table. Here’s a huge list of muffin recipes that I reference all the time.
It’s super easy to grab a container of washed berries or grapes to take outside to eat. Or grab a cutie for everyone and let them peel and eat it as they play.
Sometimes I take out small bowls of frozen veggies or frozen fruit for babies to munch on if it’s hot outside.
Once again I’ll say: If they can eat it inside, they can eat it outside. And if it makes the day more fun with little to no extra effort? I say it’s a win!
Here’s a quick list to reference for easy to grab food to take outside to eat:
- Sliced apples and cheese
- Washed berries or grapes
- Cut watermelon or cantaloupe
- Cheese sticks
- 100% fruit juice popsicles
- Frozen veggies or fruit
- Avocado cups
- Applesauce squeezies
- Veggie straws
- Chicken salad or tuna salad with bread or crackers
- Chips and salsa or guacamole
- Veggies in a bowl of ranch
- Bean and cheese dip with chips
- Pizza slices
- Pizza boats
- Smoked chicken
What are your favorite foods to feed your family outside?