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How to plan the perfect picnic

creamy basil cob dip

Fresh Ideas expert Claire Brookman offers her top tips and recipes for the ultimate picnic.

Warm days mean lots of lovely time spent outside, and packing your own picnic for those park days is a surefire way to get more bang for your dollar and lots of variety in your basket. Here are Fresh Ideas expert Claire Brookman’s top tips for creating a memorable day and her favourite picnic-friendly recipes.

Expert Claire

“Who doesn’t love a gorgeous picnic? It’s one of my favourite ways to bring my loved ones together. No need for reservations – just have everyone bring a plate. Use what you already have, too, as a great way to save money. I always bring a small chopping board that I can use as a cheese board, for a stable flat surface, or to cut bread. A small knife* is also super handy to cut fruit that would otherwise go brown if cut in advance, loaves of bread, or whole cakes.”

- Claire

Everybody loves picnic season, but there is more to this style of dining than wicker baskets and tartan rugs. Revamp your next picnic with these top tips, menu additions and essential picnic supplies.

Plan your picnic ahead

Organising an amazing picnic begins with knowing your location. Are there shaded areas and picnic tables? Will you need to pack a rug? Will the Esky and food be in direct sunlight? Do your research in advance to inform which recipes to prepare and what equipment needs to be brought along.

What to bring to a picnic

Picnic food hinges on its ease. They’re recipes that are quick to put together, don’t require constant refrigeration and are easy to transport. Read on to discover some easy picnic food ideas.

smashed salt and vinegar potato salad



potato salad is classic picnic fare and is easy to customise according to what you like. Try this salt & vinegar potato salad or this lime pickle potato salad. Why not opt for a pasta salad? Keep it vegetarian or throw in pancetta. Don’t be shy to take a shortcut too: this no-cook Thai chicken salad comes together in minutes.Glass jars are great vessels for picnics. They’re perfect for individual desserts for everyone or to store dressings or sauces so they can be added to food just before serving. That’s a soggy-salad save!

Try a sweet salad for dessert, such as this quinoa, berry & mango fruit salad, or this strawberry & haloumi salad. In the warmer weather, avoid delicate or leafy salads that may wilt if left out for too long. Find more picnic salad ideas by checking out our salad recipes collection.

cheats strawberry slab cake


Minimise the cutlery

Some find it helpful to look for recipes that require limited cutlery. Skewers help with this, such as our beef & capsicum or vegetable & haloumi options – both can be cooked in advance or on a BBQ at the picnic site, if available. Tortilla cups, Vietnamese-inspired mango rice paper rolls and cheat’s strawberry slab cake are all delicious, transport-friendly and require no knives or forks. It’s not a picnic without a cob dip, and this healthier creamy basil pesto cob dip is a yummy option.

picnic sausage roll


Make it easy

Anything requiring assembly on arrival should be as straight-forward as pouring over a dressing, scattering with herbs or splitting bread for DIY chicken and cucumber rolls.

Embrace ready-made products, such as salad kits, barbecue chicken and quiches. Anything that leaves you with more time to enjoy being outdoors is a win!

peach iced tea


Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated in the heat. Keep lots of water on hand for thirsty guests, especially active kids. For drinks, look to recipes that work well both with and without ice, such as a peach iced tea or a refreshing mixed berry cordial.

Thai chicken salad


Perfect your picnic plans

If you’d rather leave the bowls and platters at home, utilise durable reusable containers, paper plates and eco-friendly disposable cutlery if your dish requires it. I like to use upturned paper cupcake cases to cover glasses and help stop bugs dive-bombing drinks.I always recommend putting ice bricks or freezer-safe drinks in the freezer the night before and keeping them stashed in your Esky for any items you want to keep chilled. You can also pop ice cubes in a heatproof flask, which will help to prevent them from melting.

*Ensure all knives are stored correctly and kept in a safe place away from children.

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