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Tips for Easy Picnics With Kids

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Picnics With Kids
Getty Burke/Triolo Productions

Picnics are easy (really!) and free, yet provide that "wow" factor for kids. My philosophy is you've got to eat anyway, why not make it a picnic?

Taking picnics with kids can get overlooked as free summer fun because it seems complicated. And there's never enough time on the weekends!

But who says this summer activity must be limited to weekends? I like simple picnics on summer weekdays when I'm working and the kids are home. If it's not too hot, we may take a picnic break at lunch, but dinner picnics give them something to look forward.

Keeping It Simple

Picnics with kids are one of those things that can easily balloon into something way more complicated than originally intended. The key to having picnics more frequently is to keep it simple. And the key to keeping it simple is finger foods and limited choices.

If something needs a fork, then it probably needs a plate and a serving spoon and is in a container you need to bring home. Don't bother with all that; just get finger foods instead.

As for limiting choices, bring food liked by all but don't ask for opinions. Once you're at the picnic site, options are limited to what you've brought, so they'll eat it. Otherwise you'll end up bringing more food than you need in order to please everyone.

Picking Picnic Foods

Sandwiches are, of course, a staple for many picnics. Making sandwiches for multiple people can be a little time-consuming, if they don't all like the same thing. So, consider other finger foods like sushi, dips, fried chicken or pizza. (If you are going to do sandwiches, consider making them on-site rather than in advance.)

Pack cut vegetables (carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli) and washed fruit that can be eaten without much prep (grapes, apples, peaches, pears, oranges, etc.) along with some packaged foods like chips, crackers and cookies. For drinks grab some juice boxes or bottles of water. And don't forget a trash bag and hand sanitizer.

Prepare a Picnic Basket in Advance

Having all the non-food items ready to go on a moment's notice will help you go on a picnic on, well, a moment's notice. Some days, it seems like too much work to gather all the needed items, then prepare the food. So either buy a practical picnic set, like a picnic backpack, or put together a ready-to-go picnic bag.

Choosing Where to Go

Don't limit yourself to parks with playgrounds for family picnics, though they may very well be your kids' top choices. Take a picnic to the pool; have it in your own backyard; hike to a secluded spot in a state park.

Check your local paper for outdoor movies and movies, and bring a picnic to a community event. Invite friends to bring along their own picnics, and you've got a party with entertainment.

If you're going to a city to visit a museum, scout out a nearby public garden for a lunchtime picnic or picnic on the museum grounds before you enter.

Are you already a pro at taking picnics with kids? Share your tips for easy family picnics.

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