‘Pickynickers’ – Tips for picnicking with kids
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How to make the best out of picnicking with your (sometimes?) picky kids.
Picnics for the Famous Five were always glorious and filled with the tastiest sounding delights. My Less-Famous Four have not taken to plum cake though and ginger pop is hard to come by (in Ireland), and does anybody like spam anymore? So although going on a picnic always sounds exciting, when it comes to eating outdoors the romance and the reality are often worlds apart. Especially when there are other uncomfortable factors at play, like soggy bogs and biting bugs!
We’ve picnicked with our kids in South Africa on koeksusters, niknaks and creme soda and in France with baguette, brie and saucisson. Discovering new foods in different countries can be fun for adults while at the same time torment for kids – they are used to what they get at home, plain and simple. On these exotic adventures, a bit of compromise is often needed, like separate picnics altogether!
Sadly now, sandwiches have become way too boring in our household and besides, they do tend to get a bit to sandy-and-widgy on the beach. Here I have compiled a list with a few alternative suggestions to fill up the picnic basket that are a mix of healthier as well as less than healthy options because no picnic is complete without a treat! May your picnic memories be rosy-golden.
Picnic Basket Fillers:
Here are some suggestions for filling your picnic hampers that have been a hit with my kids:
– Instead of sandwiches, try mini bread rolls
– Mini wraps
– Cooked pasta in a dressing (remember the forks)
– Mini boiled potatoes and a tub of mayo for dipping
– Hummus (for variety try other flavours like caramelised onion)
– Sliced cold meats such as ham/turkey/chorizo/salami
– Hard boiled eggs
– Carrot sticks
– cucumber barrels
– Baby tomatoes
– Jar of olives
– Jar of stuffed baby peppers
– Tub of cream cheese
– Sliced rectangles of cheddar
– Apples (really lovely with the cheese)
– Individual packets of crisps
– Biscuit bars also individually wrapped
– Specialized cookies like mini gingerbread men
and don’t forget your choice of drinks and a flask of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
Basic Muffin Recipe:
Finally, this option would require the most amount of preparation before hand but baking savoury muffins are super quick and a clever way of disguising foods your kids won’t normally eat. I use a basic mix recipe to which one can add any combination of ingredients. Some favourite flavours include:
– Cheddar cheese and cayenne pepper
– Chorizo, paprika and red pepper (capsicum)
– Courgette, parmesan and sesame seed
– Chicken, fresh herbs and sweetcorn
The basic mix is as simple as ABC:
A) In one bowl sift 280g/10oz self raising flour (OR plain flour and 1 tbsp baking powder)
with 1/8 tsp salt.
For sweet muffins add about 100g/4oz sugar.
B) In a jug measure 250mls/9 fl oz milk (OR buttermilk, yoghurt etc),
with a fork beat in two eggs
and 6 tbsp oil (OR melted butter).
C) VERY gently (too much mixing makes them heavy) fold the liquid into the flour mixture plus a generous cup of your fillings and spoon into a 12 hole muffin pan.
Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes.
On Packing the Picnic:
• Pack the fruit last, i.e. at the top of your basket/hamper as small bruises seem to cause great offence. (We currently have 9 half black bananas in the fridge waiting to be converted into banana bread).
• Unless you want the picnic table to turn into a grab-what-you-want buffet, don’t unpack all the food straight away; the picnic takes on a much more leisurely pace. I’m a little bit of a control-freak mother and would rather my kids didn’t eat all the treats first.
• Chocolate is the sublime conclusion to a picnic except on sunny days. If you like sucking it out of the wrapper, seeing it all over your lovely children’s faces, hands, hair and clothing, and your car upholstery, you’ll be fine. Otherwise bring an abundance of baby wipes!
• I try to ensure each child has their own bottle of water and they are mostly responsible for carrying it. I prefer not to bring juice as they tend to drink it too quickly, it dulls their appetite which means they don’t eat when you do and then are hungry when the picnic is eaten and you are driving home, toilet trips become more frequent, it’s sticky when it spills and not so handy for rinsing sandy apples or chocolatey hands.
• We need a fairly large picnic rug with a relatively waterproof lining so I sewed a nylon fabric shower curtain to the underside of a cotton double bed spread. It is light and small to carry and easily fits in the washing machine.
What are your suggestions? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Here are our 20 Best Picnic Sites in Wexford:
I surveyed my children as to their favourite places to picnic in Wexford and these are their top five destinations: 1. Mount Leinster, 2. Hook Head, 3. Ravens Wood, 4. J.F.K. Arboretum and 5. St. Mullins. Other lovely spots include 6. Ballinesker beach, 7. Carne beach, 8. St Helen’s beach, 9. Rosslare Strand, 10. the South slobs, 11. the Wildfowl Reserve, 12. Baginbun Bay, 13. Duncannon, 14. Kilmore Quay, 15. Carrigbyrne Hill, 16. Edenvale, 17. Johnstown Castle, 18. Tintern Abbey, 19. Wells House and 20. Altamont Gardens. I’m sure I’ve missed loads of lovely spots so feel free to add your suggestions.
You may guess which of the pictures below were taken in Wexford 😀
You may also like to read some tips I put together on travelling with children here.