How To Improve The Nutrition For Your Next Picnic!

Family having a picnicSummertime is picnic time, especially when you live in an area that has cold winters! It may be the beach, a park, or even your backyard; getting outdoors is something a lot of us want this time of year. A lot of food and drink included in a picnic includes so very unhealthy things! But, with proper planning, you can find healthier choices. Of course, the most important thing to remember is everything in moderation!

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Prepare Ahead!

The most important thing to remember for a healthy picnic is preparation is key! You may dread this part, but if you plan and prepare ahead of time, you'll find you can enjoy the day of the picnic better.

First is to prepare your food the night before and place it in storage containers. Marinade your kebabs and chicken overnight, and don't forget about the vegetables, they're great when you marinate them! Next up, shape (or pack if performed) your burger patties and store them between sheets of wax paper. For a better burger, try ground turkey or bison, you'll find them much leaner. Also, if you normally use bread crumbs as a binder, try whole oats instead to increase fiber!

Next, cut up fruits and vegetables and store in sealable bags. Now, make the dip and remember it doesn't have to be high-fat with cheese or sour cream. Try some healthy swaps such as Greek yogurt, guacamole or hummus.

If you're cooking things like chicken wings in a slow-cooker, you can cook them during the night and then take them to the picnic right in the slow-cooker! Finish them on the grill when you get to the picnic to crisp up the skin if you like!

Freeze some water bottles the night before, make sure they're not too full! They can be used in place of ice until they melt. And then, you have extra water for hydration and between alcoholic beverages. (See below for more on that!)

Finally, make sure you label all your totes and drawers for all your picnic essentials. Designate totes or drawers for serving ware, napkins, plates and utensils. Don't forget one for bottle openers, koozies and cups. And most important you need one for sunscreen, hand sanitizer (don't count on having a sink and soap!), trash bags, insect repellant.

Don't Forget About Food Safety!

Picnics are great places for food borne illnesses! The food may be stored wrong, cooked wrong, or illnesses may be passed from person to person! Here are some tips to follow that can help you avoid these problems!

  • Keep hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes close by. You never know if a sink with soap and water will be available (or people using them enough!)
  • Keep a roll of paper towels handy. If you have a canopy or tent, use a bungee cord to hand it up.
  • Keep coolers in the shade under a tree or canopy.
  • Keep your cold food cold and your hot food hot!
  • Do not leave food unrefrigerated for more than two hours; if the temperature is 90°F or above, the time limit drops to one hour.
  • Slow cookers make great food warmers.
  • For an extra layer of safety, keep a thermometer in your supplies to ensure your cold food is staying below 40°F and your grilled food is cooked to a proper internal temperature.

How About Appetizers, Dips, Alcohol, and Treats?

These are some of the really high-calorie foods! Here are some tips you can use to make healthy choices!

  • Before the picnic gets going, have a small snack that contains protein and fiber so you'll be less tempted to overeat.
  • Avoid skipping meals before the picnic to save room. This approach generally backfires for two reasons. 1) You overeat due to waiting too long; and then you wait too long again to eat because you're stuffed and the cycle repeats. 2) IF skipping meals is a common practice, over time your metabolism will slow.
  • Eat from a plate instead of grazing from the buffet. This helps you keep track of how much you're eating.
  • Are you a guest at the picnic? Offer to bring some fresh fruits or vegetables along with a healthy dip. This way you know there will be healthy options offered.
  • For every alcoholic beverage you have, match it with the same amount of water. This will slow down your intake and help you keep track of how much you are drinking. It also helps to keep you hydrated and hydration is key to preventing a hangover.
  • Staying hydrated will decrease fluid retention from increased sodium and alcohol.
  • Try to keep to foods that are baked or grilled instead of fried. This includes wings, potatoes, etc.
  • Take a break from the picnic and go play. There probably a football or baseball you can throw or even a cornhole set waiting for you!


Picnics are all about spending time with friends and family! Make the focus on having a good time instead of focusing on the food! Practice moderation in all things! One picnic won't ruin everything, but get back on track the next day!

Do you want more help with eating healthy? Let me know and we can work up a plan for you!

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