Skip to main content UVA Health logo of UVA Health
Healthy Balance

Pack These Healthy Picnic Foods in Your Basket Or Cooler

couple on a picnic with their dog

Packing a picnic basket and heading to your favorite park, beach, or lake is part of the summer season. So is hosting a picnic or outdoor gathering with family and friends. It may be tempting to serve classic picnic fare, such as fried chicken, mayo-based salads, salty snacks, and sweetened beverages.

Instead, try these delicious and portable healthy picnic foods that taste great but are better for your health.

Healthy Picnic Food Alternatives

Try lightening up the menu with these better-for-you picks.

Sandwich Bar

It doesn’t get any easier than setting up a build-your-own sandwich bar at summer picnics. Since everyone can mix and match their preferred bread, fillings, and spreads, it’s also sure to please the pickiest palates. Here are some healthy options:

Salad in a Jar

What’s a picnic without a side-dish salad? Jar salads offer a portable and attractive way to serve one. Here's how to make it:

  1. In a large glass jar, layer ingredients from bottom to top in this order: dressing; hearty veggies; softer veggies; cooked grains, beans or meats; cheese, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Fill the rest of the jar with leafy greens.
  3. Seal the jar and store up to 2 days.
  4. When it’s time to eat, pour into a large bowl, toss, and dig in.

Fruit Kabobs

Skewering fruit on a stick is fun to eat for picnic-goers of all ages. It’s also a more creative way to serve fruit than on a platter.

Alternately thread wooden skewers with seasonal fruits, like whole berries, watermelon, grapes, kiwi, pineapple, and cantaloupe.

For an added touch, serve with a lower-sugar vanilla Greek yogurt for dipping to make this a healthy picnic food favorite.

Get Your Heart Checked

Staying on top of checkups and screenings can help you lower your risk of heart disease.

Infused Water

All that picnicking is sure to make you thirsty. Skip sugar-sweetened tea, lemonade, and soft drinks, and sip no-sugar-added infused water instead.

In a pitcher, combine fresh still or sparkling water with muddled herbs, fresh fruit, or vegetables for a deliciously attractive beverage. Try these tasty flavor combinations:

Don’t Forget Outdoor Food Safety

Remember to take the necessary precautions to keep your healthy picnic food safe to eat. This means:

Copyright 2021 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Reply & View Comments Search Submit

Subscribe for Updates

Get stories & health tips every week