Get Savvy with your Shopping Thinking of having a picnic this weekend with friends and family, but unsure how to prepare and keep things healthy? Going for a picnic can be great way to enjoy your local green areas or maybe even adventure further afield. The key to a good picnic though is to be organised and to get savvy with your shopping. Supermarkets have definitely upped their game with what they are offering for all our summer socialising, but there are certain things that you can make a lot healthier and a lot cheaper yourself at home.
Invest in Quality First off, investing in a variety of good quality plastic/Tupperware boxes is key. Your food will stay fresh, not get squashed and allow you to prepare a greater variety of dishes than you otherwise would have been able to do.
The Whole Family If you’re stuck for ideas the best place to start is to go browsing in your local supermarkets for ideas and what kind of things you like the look of and then having a go yourself. This is also a great opportunity to get the whole family involved with cooking and helping prepare some dishes. In an ideal world we’d always make everything from scratch, but this is also rather unrealistic and is often more stress than its worth. So I have created a list of things which I think gives a realistic balance between the making and buying.
Easy to Make and Prepare at Home:
Pasta Bake Potato Salad Chickpea and Lentil Salad Mixed Grain and Rice Salad Fruit Salad - sliced melon in particular Vegetable Sticks - carrots, cucumber, celery Trail Mix
Easier to Buy from Supermarket:
Hummus and Dips Falafels Baguette Pork Pies and Sliced Meats Vegetable Crisps
Make it Yourself In particular, try and avoid buying ready made picnic sides like potato salads, slaws and pasta bakes as they are often laden with hidden sugars and fats which you can avoid by making them yourself the night before your picnic. If you check out our ‘Inspirations and Recipes’ page there are some great quick and easy recipes, ideal for picnics like the Bulgur and Herb Salad, Broad Bean and Feta Frittata or Courgette, Asparagus and Feta Tarts. Here are a few other ideas for you…
1) Pasta bake - cook up a big batch of pasta and then split in two. I suggest adding tuna and grated cheese for the fish lovers and veggies to the other.
2) Chickpea and lentil salad - fry up garlic and ginger and add two cans of chickpeas and one can on lentils with cut up peppers and some saltanas. In the morning toast some flaked almonds and toss through before serving.
3) Potato salad - par boil some new potatoes, leave to cool and dry and stir through some light mayonnaise, chopped chives and salt and pepper. Great Alternatives Crisps and dips are a summer staple, but there are now so many healthier options (baked versions and vegetable crisps) out there so keep your options open. Also, buying a big bag of carrots, a few cucumbers and a celery to chop up into sticks is a great alternative and make for a great dipping utensil. If you do have time, making a hummus, guacamole, salsa and beetroot dip etc. would be great, but can be quite a faff so buying these from the supermarket is much easier. I tend to go for the lower fat options, but always check that these have not then been pumped with sugar as a replacement for fat. Easy Desserts Finally, for dessert bulk up on a big fruit salad with some trail mix. Making your own trail mix to nibble on and having a fruit salad for dessert could not be easier. Make your fruit salad the morning of the picnic and you can buy all your favourite dried fruits, nuts and seeds from Pantry Essentials. My favourite combos are almonds, cranberries, cashews and sunflower seeds. If you love a chocolate bar though and are trying to find a healthier alternative though, Trek bars are great and come in various flavours.
Do Not Stress- Keep it Simple Do not stress though! Picnics are about coming together with your friends and family, sharing good food and enjoying the summer. Keep it simple, have fun and get the whole family involved this summer and you’ll be wanting to have a picnic every weekend!