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Do you ever feel that taking the family on an outing can cost you a fortune? Even if you are doing something that is free or low cost, you end up spending loads; drinks, ice creams, snacks… it can soon add up! The picnic however, is the perfect solution.

Last summer we blogged about the best picnic spots across Portsmouth and there were 56 of them! Why not have a read and choose which picnic spot you want to visit, then grab your picnic basket and blanket and enjoy some low cost, home-made food and free relaxation, out in the fresh air.

Picnics don’t have to be fancy and you don’t have to buy expensive, ready-made picnic food, home-made is best! You don’t even need a special picnic basket or hamper, a cardboard box or a shopping bag will do! All you need is a bit of nice weather, family and/or friends, a big blanket, and you’re ready to picnic!

The kids can bring a football, cricket set or a frisbee to keep them amused while you read a book, or chat to your friends and family members, perfect!

 

fruit and veg stand in a supermarket.

Read on and get inspiration from our favourite tried and tested picnic food ideas that won’t break the bank, and are easy to throw together.

Last weekend we took a picnic down to Southsea Common and met up with some friends. Everyone brought a dish along to share. It was really good fun and apart from the food and bus journey there and back, it was a cheap day out. The kids didn’t get bored once!

For the picnic food, we shopped value ranges, not big brands, and picked up fruit and veg from supermarket special offer stands; like Aldi’s Big 6, Lidl’s Pick of the Week and similar offers at other supermarkets. You might even be able to get some of the ingredients for your picnic feast, FREE from food surplus apps like Olio. Read more about Olio and see how you can sign up.

Make your own charcuterie or cheese board

Great for sharing and very easy to throw together, plus so delicious! Grab a shallow tray and fill it with all your favourite things, such as cold meats like ham or salami, different cheeses, olives, pickles, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, veggies, and grapes. Use small plastic bowls or disposable cups to hold anything wet, such as the olives or pickles. When you’ve arranged everything, cover with cling film or foil ready for transportation.

cheese and charcuterie board

Sandwiches

Everybody likes a sandwich and they’re perfect for picnics as you don’t need a plate or cutlery to eat them; whether you are fan of a filled baguette, or you prefer trad sliced bread for yours, there’s something for everyone.

Here are some sandwich ideas

  • Fill a baguette with grated cheese and sliced tomato. Cut the baguette into smaller individual pieces, either 4 or 6, wrap each piece in cling film or foil, ready to share out.
  • Egg mayonnaise is delicious, doesn’t cost a lot to make and goes a long way. Boil 6 eggs for about 8 minutes. Plunge them into cold water for 1 or 2 minutes and then peel the shells off. You can grate or chop the eggs up finely or just smash them up using a fork. Add a good pinch of salt and black pepper and a large dollop of mayonnaise (1 or 2 heaped tablespoons). Mix well and use in your sandwich of choice. My favourite way is in traditional sliced bread, granary or whole wheat is tasty and good for you.
  • Wraps are delicious and easy-to-hold for little fingers- use up left-over roast chicken, chopped up finely and mixed with mayo or pesto sauce, add some slices of tomato, a bit of lettuce or basil leaves and roll up your wrap!
  • Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches. A favourite with the kids. Make the sandwiches with sliced bread and use cookie cutters to cut them into fun-shaped, bite-sized pieces.
Sandwiches
different types of pasta

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is cheap to make, simple and satisfying. Boil up some pasta shells or twists until tender, drain well, rinse under the cold tap and leave to cool. When cool, transfer the pasta to a large bowl and add your chosen ingredients:

What to put in your pasta salad

  • chopped up ham
  • smoked sausage
  • cooked chicken
  • grated Cheddar cheese
  • cubes of Feta
  • chopped tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • tuna

Get creative and add whatever you fancy. It’s a great way to use up left-over meats or veggies. Mix all the ingredients together well, add some mayonnaise, pesto or olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can easily make this the night before; it actually gets better overnight.

You’ll need bowls or plates for this, and forks – but just bring some cutlery from your kitchen drawer rather than buying disposable cutlery.

Fruit kebabs

Kids love these and if the sun is shining they are really refreshing and much better for their teeth than ice lollies. Get a selection of whole fruits (don’t go for expensive, pre chopped and peeled fruit); Strawberries, apples, melon and kiwi work really well together but choose fruits from the special offer stands that most supermarkets have.

How to make fruit kebabs

  • Wash fruit, peel if necessary, and chop into chunks.
  • Thread one or two pices of each fruit onto wooden skewers (you can get skewers for about £1 in supermarkets and you’ll probably have some left to use for your next picnic)
  • Wrap the kebabs in foil, a freezer bag or container to transport.
fruit kebabs

Chicken wings

Hot and spicy, sweet and sticky or just plain, these bite sized delights are delicious cold, and can be picked up easily, so perfect for a picnic. Just bring some wet wipes with you to clean fingers.

Chicken wings are really cheap and they go a long way! They’re also a great source of protein and a favourite in my house. I like to take off the wing tip and halve them at the joint, so that each wing is in two bits. Don’t throw the wing tips away, you can use them later to make your own chicken stock, or soups.

How I make baked chicken wings

  • Just coat the wings in a little oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika and mix well.
  • Spread them onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven until cooked through, and nice and crispy. You can also do them in the Air Fryer.

You’ll find detailed recipes for chicken wings on the BBC website

chopped vegetables

Salad in a jar

These are fun, easy to make and so convenient for picnics. Use clean jam jars or Kilner jars and fill with vibrant veggies; things like diced peppers, grated carrot, sweetcorn, sliced cucumber, red onion, baby spinach work well.

How to make a jam jar salad

  • Prepare your ingredients – chop veg quite small
  • Start by adding a salad dressing at the bottom of the jar. (olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a simple dressing)
  • Layer your chopped veg until the jar is almost full
  • Add a layer of greens on top (for example; spinach, rocket, lettuce).
  • Shake it up and eat straight from the jar!

 

We really hope you try some of our food ideas and get out in the fresh air and enjoy our picnic spots. Why not plan a picnic now!

Please remember to take any rubbish home with you or use litter bins.