Eating outdoors in not something we Brits do an awful lot of. However, as the weather gets warmer tempting us to pack a picnic and head for the great British countryside so we might start thinking about what nutritious and delicious foods we can pack that will be enjoyed by the whole family.
Picnic foods tend to be about convenience and whilst supermarkets have certainly made picnicking easier with pre-packaged sandwiches and sausage rolls if you want healthier choices then look no further than the area around you. From damsons to blackberries and from crab apples to wild garlic there’s plenty of opportunity to find free food to be added to your picnic.
If foraging for wild food is not for you then you could take a trip to a Pick Your Own farm whilst you are visiting the countryside and choose from whatever is in season there. The Pick Your Own season is surprisingly long stretching from asparagus in May to raspberries in September. This is a great way to learn about how, where and when foods grow in this country.
Now, on to the food you pack in advance. There are some healthier foods that are equally as convenient as some of those packaged foods I mentioned earlier. Here are my top 5 recommendations:
- Olives – these are such a convenient food to be eaten using just your fingers on a picnic. They also serve the fat/salt need that is often otherwise met by far less healthy crisps!
- Chicken Drumsticks – these can be purchased ready cooked but taste even better if you roast them at home with a marinade made from a combination of honey, tamari (soy sauce) and ginger.
- Baked Root Vegetable Crisps – using a mandolin, thinly slice root vegetables. Lay them out on baking parchment, sprinkle with salt and crisp up in a low oven (about 50 degrees centigrade for about 6 hours) turning once.
- Dips and Crudités – research shows that children eat a wider variety of vegetables when they are served alongside a dip. Try dips such as hummus, guacamole and smoked mackerel pate. With crudités that cover every ‘colour of the rainbow’.
- Vegetable Kebabs – make vegetables look a little more interesting and get the children involved in some simple food prep by getting them to thread salad veg such as chopped peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber onto skewers (slightly older children) or straws with pointy ends (slightly younger children).
Jenny Tschiesche is a Media Nutritionist and Founder of The Lunchbox Doctor.