Delicious Picnic Food Ideas and Useful Tips for Summer

By KÜHL Editor on September 13, 2023
6 min read

One of the quickest and easiest ways to gather people you love in the outdoors is to throw a picnic! This may be considered a typical summer activity, but dealing with lockdown and quarantine for so long, everyone craves fresh air and warm sun. Why wouldn't you seize a couple of hours on a beautiful warm day? We've prepared a handy guide to help get that delicious picnic food on a blanket, and have a good time while reconnecting with nature.

Maybe this is the first time you've done such a thing, despite being an outdoor enthusiast. We've also prepared some helpful tips for keeping the picnic food safe and warm, and bug-free. Check out our handy guide to make your first summer picnic as easy and fun as possible.

What Kind of Food Should I Bring to a Family Picnic?

You don't have to be a chef extraordinaire to prepare a picnic basket filled with tasty food for your kids, but what you pack depends on how much time you have and how far you're planning to go. You can bring warm or cold foods - just be mindful with packing and storing.

Cold foods are a bit easier to prepare and consume in the outdoors. The most typical types of cold picnic foods are:

  • Wraps - delicious even when cold
  • Healthy finger foods with your favorite dip - pre-cut and easy to pack
  • Sandwiches
  • Fruit, or a pre-made seasonal fruit salad
  • Cold and refreshing pasta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Fried chicken
  • Fresh lemonade

If you're spontaneous or don't have much time on your hands, these are easy to buy in a local grocery deli. Since this is a family excursion, though, why not put some group effort into this and let the kids help? You can make sandwiches and fill tortillas together. Making potato salad and fried chicken takes a little more time, but it's a classic meal everyone loves. Fried chicken can be served either cold or warm.

man with two kids pouring coffee on picnic
Let them help by preparing their favorite picnic sandwich themselves. Products shown: Girl's Lea™ Pullover, Joyrydr™, Boy's Alloy™ 1/4 Zip.

If you prefer warm foods at your picnic to keep everyone happy, go ahead. Warm/hot foods for your picnic include:

  • Baked beans
  • Muffins and other baked goods
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Pizza
  • Warm drinks - hot chocolate or tea

It's best to prepare the hot foods as close to the picnic time as you can. The food will be warmer and stay fresh longer.

What Kind of Food Should I Bring to a Romantic Picnic?

The ideas we mentioned above are perfect for a family picnic. However, for a picnic date with a special someone, plan something more romantic, and bring out small fancy bites instead of the classics. Luckily, you still don't need to be a master in culinary arts to impress.

Here are some picnic food ideas you might want to consider for a romantic picnic:

  • Small sandwiches with cherry tomatoes and basil
  • Bruschetta with avocado
  • Bite-sized fruits - apricots, cherries, strawberries, and pineapple
  • Pasta salad
  • Spinach and feta muffins
  • Chocolate
  • Wine
two climbers grilling kebabs in outdoors
Outdoor enthusiasts have the best ideas for their picnic dates - romantic kebabs! Products shown: Renegade™ Rock Pant, KÜHL Engineered™ Krew.

You can also bring other romantic foods for your picnic date. Ask your date what they like to eat, and make a compact and portable version of that food. It's possible to find smaller versions of just about any type of food - just make sure you pack it super carefully. Bring a blanket or a tablecloth and enjoy the day in nature!

You can place all of these in a backpack if you want the picnic to be a surprise and avoid the picnic basket.

Tips on Keeping Picnic Food Warm And Safe

How Do I Keep Picnic Food Warm?

It might sound challenging to keep picnic food warm without packing a camping stove. Luckily, there are other portable solutions available, like thermal bags, a thermos, or even warming plates. Some warming plates have natural stones and can stay warm for hours after placing them in a microwave before the picnic.

Heat packs are another good idea, including insulated picnic baskets. Even using simple aluminum foil keeps food warm if warmed just before leaving.

brown picnic food basket on red tablecloth
Picnic baskets came a long way from simple willow food carriers. You can get insulated picnic baskets with storage sections. Photo by Bonnie Kittle.

Did you know that cooler boxes also keep food warm? Thanks to the insulation in portable coolers, they can retain heat as much as cold, which makes them very useful for camping, traveling, or longer picnics.

Numerous insulated food containers and bowls are also available for keeping picnic food warm when traveling long-distance. Don't forget to buy a good hiking bag to carry these items if you're hiking far away from home to throw a picnic.

How Do I Keep Bees, Flies, and Other Bugs Away During a Picnic?

We've all had experiences dealing with bees, flies, and other insects that love feasting on the food we carefully prepared for a picnic. Some of the most notorious (and annoying) include wasps, bumblebees, and ants. If you don't pay attention, things can quickly get out of hand.

To prevent this, we've prepared some tips you can use to save your food from pesky insects:

  • Stay away from areas with wet grass that attracts more insects, especially mosquitoes.
  • Citrus scents are known to be a good deterrent from insects when outdoors.
  • Other natural items like onion, vanilla, and mint also repel insects.
  • Wear neutral or white clothing rather than bright colors with floral patterns.
  • Set up a separate spot where you can discard sweet food remnants so insects feed on that rather than on you.
  • Bring a portable fan to use since insects avoid flying in the wind.
girl wearing KÜHL black jacket laughing outdoors
Pick a versatile and lightweight jacket like W's The One™ Jacket just in case, especially if you're going to hike.

It's a good idea to wear sun-protective clothing and sun hats. Wearing top-performing outdoor clothing in neutral colors could make your picnic twice as enjoyable as you'll be able to easily move around and not worry about sweating, overheating, and chafing. Check out our The One™ series of top-notch lightweight outerwear for men and women.

How Do I Keep My Picnic Food Safe?

The FDA has a collection of instructions for keeping your picnic food safe.

First, remember to wash any produce before you pack it away for a picnic. This also applies to cutlery, plates, and bowls. If you plan to grill meat or seafood, use separate utensils and platters.

Some picnic foods are prone to spoiling fast if not stored properly. Don't let food sit for more than an hour at temperatures above 90 °F. Use coolers, ice, and frozen gel packs to maintain the coolness of cold food.

man and woman holding bottles outdoors during daytime
If you're planning to hike to your picnic spot, it's better to bring non-perishable foods. Products shown: Response™.

Pick Your Location for Picnics in the Wild

With these tips and ideas, all that's left is to choose a location for your picnic!

Here at KÜHL, we're always up for an adventure! Whether it's a relaxing picnic or a strenuous hike, we believe that top-notch outdoor clothing makes exploring nature safer and more comfortable. Blending innovative designs with top-quality materials makes our apparel durable, comfortable, and versatile. So check out our website and pick your favorite new arrival for all your ventures off the beaten paths!

Featured Image - A romantic mountain picnic at Petrópolis, Brazil by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos.

KÜHL Editor
KÜHL Editor


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