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Picnics are a great way to celebrate an event. They also offer a chance to relax with friends and family on a beautiful day. But typical picnic foods are often not as healthy as you think. With some careful planning, you can create a nutritious picnic spread.

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Choose healthy appetizers

Raw veggies are delicious and easy to pack. Prepare pre-cut bags of celery, carrots, peppers and cucumbers. Skip the ranch dip and use hummus or salsa instead. Stock up on fresh fruit like watermelon, as well as whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese.

Tweak your salads

Make healthy picnic salads by following these tips. Be sure to use:

  • Low-fat mayonnaise
  • Whole-grain pasta, brown rice or quinoa as your salad base
  • More greens or veggies than grains or pasta 
  • Pre-cooked leftovers like chicken or salmon to top your salad

Bring heart-smart sandwiches

Looking for a healthy meal idea? Consider using whole grain wraps or pitas. Stuff them with vegetables, chicken or lean cold cuts.

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Fire up the grill

If your picnic site has a grill, think about alternatives to the usual burgers and hot dogs.

  • Grilled lean meat, poultry and fish are lower fat and calorie options. 
  • Marinate vegetables like corn or zucchini in olive oil, then grill. 

Stay hydrated

Bring along drinks that will be refreshing, but without added sugar. Try the following:

  • Ice water or sparkling water.
  • Unsweetened iced tea with lemon 
  • Seltzer mixed with cranberry juice 

Indulge your sweet tooth with fruit

Spring and summer are the perfect time for fresh fruit. 

  • Prep a colorful fruit salad with berries, melon and grapes.
  • Bring fresh apples or peaches to snack on. 

 

Sources:

  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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