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Recipes and tips for a great picnic

When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, there's nothing quite like a picnic. We've put together this comprehensive guide with practical tips and picnic food ideas to help make your outdoor dining experience both enjoyable and heart healthy.

a family enjoying a picnic in the outdoors

Pack smart

Packing for a picnic is an art, and it all starts with a solid foundation. Lay the groundwork for freshness by placing ice packs at the bottom of your hampers. As you layer your goodies, place heavy and perishable items next and lighter non-perishable items on top. This simple trick will ensure that everything stays cool and fresh throughout the day. 

Stay hydrated

On hot summer days, staying hydrated is a necessity so make sure you pack a variety of thirst-quenching options. Infused or plain water is essential for keeping everyone refreshed. Not only does infused water add a burst of natural flavour, but if you personally squeeze in the fruit juice (fresh orange, lime, grapefruit or lemon) you may get some vitamin C as well. Elevate your hydration game by including iced tea in your picnic drinks lineup. Green tea with mint and lemon or a hibiscus-infused fruity blend are great options. Check out our healthy and delicious infused tea recipes here.

Keep it safe

Safety is paramount when it comes to food. Warm weather can create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, posing potential health risks. Safeguard your food by placing perishable items in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs to ensure the internal temperature stays cool. This simple step prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, ensuring that your picnic is both safe and enjoyable.  

If possible, pack drinks in a separate cooler. This prevents the exposure of your food to warm air every time people open the cooler to top up their drinks.  

Public surfaces may carry unseen germs, making it important to pack antibacterial wipes. Take a moment before setting up your picnic spot to wipe down tables or any public surfaces where you plan to serve food.  

Picnic food ideas

A great way to get some vegetarian-friendly protein into your hamper is with these easy chickpea falafel patties, flavoured with Middle Eastern spices. You can serve them with pita bread, hummus, couscous, tzatziki dip or just on their own! 

Or how about trying our tasty cheese scone recipe? Packed with spinach, tomatoes, carrots and onions, the flavours in these scones mean you don't even need to top them with anything. They’re super simple to make and sure to be a hit in your picnic basket. 

To pack some protein into your picnic, look no further than our lunchbox meatballs. The perfect finger food, they can be made with any type of mince and take only 15-20 minutes in the oven to cook before you leave. Try cooking them the day before to save time. 

Did someone say dessert? After your main picnic meal there should still be some room in the basket for these delicious brownies with the goodness of black beans.  

Salad tips

In the summer heat, leafy salads can be a challenge, wilting faster than you can set up your picnic blanket. Opt instead for alternatives like our lentil Tabbouleh salad, featuring tinned lentils for an added protein punch. Alternatively, raw veggie sticks paired with a flavourful hummus dip provide a satisfying and heart-healthy crunch. 

To prevent things going soggy, keep dressings and sauces separate. Pack them in small containers and add them just before you plan to eat.  

Sandwiches re-imagined

an image of healthy sandwich ideas

Picnics and sandwiches go hand in hand, but sandwiches don't have to be boring. Choose whole grain bread, lean proteins like turkey or grilled chicken, and load up on colourful veggies. Incorporate heart-healthy spreads like avocado or pesto for added flavour and nutritional benefits. For inspiration, check out our delicious sandwich filling ideas below. 

  1. Wholegrain bread with a chickpea/mayo mix, shredded iceberg lettuce and sliced red capsicum. 
  2. White pita with leftover roast lamb, roasted red capsicum, spinach leaves and tzatziki
  3. Wholegrain bread roll with pesto, rocket, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 
  4. Multigrain wrap with falafel, beetroot hummus, tabbouleh and spinach leaves. 
  5. Wholegrain bread with feta spread, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, rocket and a scattering of sliced olives. 
  6. Multigrain wrap with a tuna, mayo and capers mix, cucumber and cos lettuce.   


With these practical tips your next picnic can be a memorable and delicious experience. So, venture outdoors, lay out your picnic spread, and savour the healthy flavours of New Zealand’s summer. For more inspiration on food for picnics and picnic ideas, explore our recipes