One of the joys of the warm weather months is eating outdoors, and picnics are the best way to have a meal out without stressing your wallet. Whether your outing is to a local park, a day at the beach or an outdoor concert, you can easily tailor a picnic to your specific dietary needs.
Be sure to follow a few simple rules of food handling: Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Cold perishables should be kept in a cooler at 40 degrees F. with ice or frozen gel packs until serving time. Store hot foods in an insulated container until serving. As with cold foods, hot foods should not sit out for more than two hours, or one hour when the temperature is over 90 degrees F.
So if a picnic sounds like a good idea to you, but you're not sure where to start, or you just want some inspiration for something new, take a look at these healthful recipes.
Watermelon Agua Fresca by Adam Ried
Literally "fresh watermelon water," this drink would be a great start to a picnic. It is a traditional Mexican drink with a pleasing pink hue. Besides, what better way to enjoy summer than with the taste of watermelon?
Per serving: 65 calories, 0g fat, 1g protein, 1g fiber
Ginger Lemonade by Arlen Gargagliano
Lemonade is no doubt a classic summer drink, but why not add a Caribbean twist? Although this recipe includes vodka, there are instructions for an alcohol-free version, if you desire. Either way, it's sure to be refreshing and delicious.
Per serving: 339 calories, 0g fat, 0g protein, 0g fiber
Mango and Papaya Salad by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner
Need a bit more fiber in your diet? This salad will hit the spot. With so much fruit, it'll keep you full and satisfied. You'll get a good dose of vitamins A and C, antioxidants and potassium, too.
Per serving: 225 calories, 1g fat, 3g protein, 6g fiber
German Potato Salad by Robin Miller
If you're craving a potato salad for your picnic, this is a great choice. It travels and keeps well since it has no mayonnaise, and it's easy to make.
Per serving: 273 calories, 6g fat, 8g protein, 4g fiber
Carrot Slaw with Mango Chutney Dressing by Lorna Sass
Mango chutney gives this slaw an unexpected but delightful summer flavor. Enjoy it with a favorite sandwich of your choice, or over grilled chicken for a healthy lunch.
Per serving: 140 calories, 4g fat, 3g protein, 4g fiber
Asian Chicken Wrap by Ellie Krieger
Now here's a wrap to get excited about. It's all about varying textures for this one, from the smooth dressing to the crunch of the cabbage and bell peppers and the tender chicken.
Per serving: 380 calories, 12g fat, 35g protein, 3g fiber
Tuna Fish Salad Sandwich with Scallion and Pickled Ginger by David Ricketts
Pickled ginger adds an unexpected element to this tuna salad sandwich. Tuna is a great lean source of omega-3 fats, and may have benefits for cardiovascular health.
Per serving: 267 calories, 5g fat, 28g protein, 5g fiber
Need a filling vegetarian choice for your picnic? Look no further; this sandwich is a great source of protein and fiber, guaranteed to keep you satisfied.
Per serving: 340 calories, 9g fat, 35g protein, 8g fiber
Raisin and Apricot Breakfast Cookies by Debra Ponzek
What's not to love about these cookies? They're portable, healthy and scrumptious. You can even have the kids help out with these if you're planning a family picnic.
Per serving: 177 calories, 3g fat, 4g protein, 2g fiber
Summer Fruit Compote by Diane Rossen Worthington
Make this dessert ahead of time for a fruitful ending to your picnic. This dish is quite versatile because it can be made with fruits that you have on hand, and does not necessarily have to stick to the original assortment. Whatever's in season at your local farmers market will work well here!
Per serving: 329 calories, 1g fat, 2g protein
You may also like: 3 low-calorie strawberry desserts.