Now that the sun is out and everything is in bloom, we’ve emerged from hibernation mode more ready than ever to enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, nothing sounds better than packing a picnic, heading out to the park, and eating al fresco. But we all know the idea of picnicking is much more fun than actually planning and packing the picnic.
Everyone wants an Insta-worthy spread, but what can you actually pack that can sit in a wicker basket all day? No need to rack your brain—we’ve got the best (and most delicious) picnic foods that don’t require lugging a cooler around with you.
Packaged Food Picks
Throwing a picnic party doesn’t mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars at Whole Foods on meats and cheeses. There are plenty of affordable five-star snacks that are tasty and easy to eat while lounging on a blanket. Here are our favorites.
1. Gaea Marinated Cauliflower Snack Packs
Cauliflower is trending, but eating it raw isn’t always appealing. Instead, try this pickled veggie snack, marinated in Gaea extra virgin olive oil, lemon essential oil, and sea salt.
2. Rhythm Superfood Carrot Sticks
Ditch the greasy potato chips and opt for something sweeter and lighter. These new dehydrated, organic carrot sticks are just 150 calories per bag and add an upscale feel to your crunchy snacking habit.
3. Lantana Hummus
An outdoor party isn’t complete without hummus, but why not take it to the next level with flavors like sriracha carrot, yellow lentil, and cucumber? Made with a variety of beans, like white bean and edamame, Lantana hummus is an elegant twist on an old favorite.
4. Mary’s Gone Crackers
You can’t have hummus without crackers, and Mary’s Gone Crackers are perfectly crunchy and super seedy—in a good way. They’re also organic, gluten-free, and made with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and flaxseeds. These sturdy crackers are the perfect vessels for all dips and cheeses.
5. EPIC Maple Glazed & Smoked Tender Salmon Bites
Elevate your basic charcuterie plate with the filet of the sea—salmon. Smoky, maple-glazed, and with a hint of dill, these dried smoked salmon bites don’t need to be refrigerated. Plus, this wild-caught salmon is sourced from fishermen who run a family business in Alaska—so you can feel good while chowing down.
6. Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cracker Cuts
A good picnic needs solid cheese. But bringing an entire wheel and trying to cut it on a portable cutting board usually results in a mess (and crappy slicces). Cabot has solved that problem with these portable pre-cut cheese slices. Now all you need is a pre-sliced baguette!
7. Blue Diamond Crafted Almonds
If you love almonds but are sick and tired of spending your entire paycheck on nuts, you gotta try Blue Diamond’s latest creation. Their Crafted Gourmet almonds are roasted and dusted with different seasonings, like herb and olive oil, rosemary and sea salt, pink Himalayan salt and garlic, and black truffle. They pair perfectly with cheese, crackers, or fresh fruit—making them a picnic necessity.
Fresh Food Picks
While you can make a perfectly good picnic basket with entirely store-bought packaged foods, a little extra effort goes a long way. Take a few minutes to prep some of these natural goodies for your basket and you’ll knock the socks off your picnic attendees. (Figuratively, of course—picnics are best barefoot.)
1. Jicama Sticks
Move over, carrot sticks—there’s a more exciting veg in town! Jicama is a sweet and satisfyingly crunchy vegetable that pairs perfectly with a vinaigrette, dip, or hummus. No dip? No problem. It’s incredibly tasty on its own. Just buy one jicama, peel it, and cut it into thin slices.
2. Frozen Grapes
You’ve already packed the pinot, so why bring mushy, warm grapes? Here’s a timeless trick of the trade to keep your grapes from going bad in the warm weather: Freeze them. Pop them in the freezer ahead of time, grab them right before you head out, and voila—your grapes will keep cool in the basket. You can also add them to your white wine if you forgot to chill it ahead of time.
3. Snap Peas
The only thing you need to do to these deliciously sweet peas is wash ’em and bag ’em.
4. Cherry Tomatoes
While you can eat these right out of the container, we suggest drizzling them with olive oil and salt—and probably eating them with a fork. You may just be in your neighborhood park, but you’ll feel like you’re in Italy.
A good picnic isn’t complete without the right libations. Obviously, wine always fits the bill, but have you thought beyond the bottle? We love canned rosé—and our favorite is the Sofia Mini Brut from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
But if you’re looking for something lighter that will still give you a buzz, try SpikedSeltzer. It tastes like the non-alcoholic stuff but will definitely leave you feeling giddy. And for those abstaining from alcohol, there’s always La Croix or Spindrift for some bubbles with a hint of flavor.
Pro tip: Want to keep your drinks cool without a cooler? Try Hydroflask’s wine tumblers or conceal ALL the liquid in larger 64-ounce containers. We guarantee that your drinks will stay cold throughout your entire picnic.
Add a Little Something Extra
It never hurts to grab some cheap flowers from Trader Joe’s or your local supermarket—no one will know (or care) where they came from. You can also find cool and well-priced disposable cutlery, plates, and napkins at HomeGoods, Marshall’s, or TJ Maxx. If you don’t mind spending a little extra, opt for compostable cutlery with modern designs from Susty or Sophistiplate.