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4 Simple Picnic Ideas for Families

To a kid, a simple picnic is as fun as a fancy one.


Picnics are a great way for families to create lasting summer memories together, but to parents who are trying to get some work done, they sometimes can seem like a complicated expenditure of time. However, picnics with kids don't need to be elaborate. In fact, a simple picnic can be just as much fun as one that took hours to prepare.

These four simple picnic ideas will make your next outdoor meal quick and easy.

Pack-Your-Own Picnic

Smiling Sisters making sandwiches
Yellow Dog Productions/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It's amazing how satisfied kids can be with a simple meal when they prepare it themselves. I think it's important to teach kids cooking, and prepping for a picnic can get kids excited to work in the kitchen. And this could be a first step in teaching kids to pack their own school lunches.

It's even more amazing how quickly picnic prep goes if family members make their own sandwiches. While you're at it, have them fill a bottle for a drink or maybe even make batch of this fresh lemonade. Throw in some fruit and veggies and a bag of chips. And you're ready to go.

If your kids are too little to pack their own, have them help with something simpler like putting veggies in a bag or adding items to the picnic basket. And each time you take a picnic give them a slightly more difficult task, so they can learn to help.

Supermarket-Stop Picnic

Grocery Shopping with Child
Grocery Shopping with Child
For super simple picnic prep, grab your picnic basket then stop at grocery for everything else. If you have time, you may want to pick up stuff up earlier in the day. But kids don't usually mind a very targeted trip to the grocery, especially if the payoff is a picnic.

Along these same lines would be getting take-out pizza, subs or fast food. Doesn't matter where the food came from; it's still a picnic if you eat it outside! We do a "supermarket-stop picnic" at the pool frequently. Since it's at the pool, where there are tables, chairs and bathrooms, I don't even bother with the picnic bag. This is what I buy:
  • Deli fried chicken
  • Juice boxes/water
  • Grapes
  • Paper towels
  • And, maybe, French bread, chips or pretzels

The Dipping Picnic

Dipping Picnic
Getty Burke/Triolo Productions

Kids love to dip stuff, and this picnic is really easy. (The dipping picnic is a good candidate to also be a supermarket-stop picnic.) Simply buy a selection of dips and things to dip such as fruits and veggies, bread, chips, pretzels, cookies, cheese chunks and crackers.

A sweet dip for dessert and dips with a little protein, like hummus, add variety to ranch or bleu cheese favorites. You may also want to bring along cheese sticks, cubed cheese, summer sausage or some another protein source. And don't forget the drinks and the napkins!

Grilling Picnic

SXC/Remington Phillips

I know grilling sounds complicated, but it doesn't have to be. Go to a park that provides grills. Choose something to grill that doesn't require a lot of different condiments and can be eaten with fingers or on bread. Sausages, marinated chicken or pork chops are good choices. (Burgers are probably not the easiest choice since people may expect condiments, cheese, pickles, tomatoes, etc.) Make your sides simple finger foods like fruit, chopped veggies and chips.

If you are going to grill, you will need more stuff. Bring:

  • Charcoal, lighter fluid
  • Lighter or matches
  • Grilling utensils
  • Aluminum foil
  • Paper plates

More Picnic Tips:

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