‘Pickynickers’ – Tips for picnicking with kids

family picnic in the park outside chateau Fontainbleau

‘Pickynickers’ – Tips for picnicking with kids

hook head light house with two children having a picnic in the rain

Introducing a Spanish student to an Irish summer picnic in 2017 – it’s not easy to see the rain in the photo but that’s the reason why we are the only ones there.

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, in France with baguette, brie and saucisson and in the USA on guacamole and Colby jack sandwiches! 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
– Crackers
– Breadsticks
– 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
– Coleslaw
– Carrot sticks
– cucumber barrels
– Baby tomatoes
– Jar of olives
– Jar of stuffed baby peppers
– Tub of cream cheese
– Sliced rectangles of cheddar
– Clementines
– Apples (really lovely with the cheese)
– Grapes
– Berries
– Melon
– 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:

This morning's double batch of banana and walnut wholemeal muffins.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.

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10 thoughts on “‘Pickynickers’ – Tips for picnicking with kids”

  1. What I love about this post is that it’s practical and it’s not just feeding me an “ideal scenario” picnic – you are sooo right that slightly bruised fruit will cause huge offense to kids, and yes they will want the same old stuff, no matter what country you’re eating in. This is a fab post! #blogcrush

    1. Thank you Lucy, there’s really no ideal picnic is there? But some do have lovely moments. One of my favourites is the one where we’re sitting outside the chateau Fontainebleau, we found that park and view quite by accident, the weather was lovely and we had a good array of yummy food. However, my youngest stepped on a gigantic thorn which my hubby fortunately managed to extract with the Swiss army knife!

  2. Some great tips, I’ve been keen to make savoury muffins for the kids- might try it this weekend, nice to have an alternative to sandwiches! #blogcrush

  3. We recently rediscovered Spam! It’s popular with the kids. On picnics we like wraps and rolls better than bread. Hard boiled eggs are nice too.

  4. The Famous Five! Ahhhh… just took a little trip down memory lane. I blame Enid Blyton for the fact that in my earliest attempts at writing children’s books, the characters paused to eat every chapter or so. Granted, I was 12 at the time, but still…

  5. When I was a kid my Dad managed to blag a course for work at Gleneagles. We went too. They provided picnics which even included whiskey for the kids. We, needless to say, weren’t allowed it!

    I actually don’t think I’be had a picnic since. We always seem to want to burn (cook) the food outside before eating outside! Might be something to try if the weather picks up.

    1. Liberty On the Lighter Side

      Hahaha whiskey for the kids not surprising you’ve been put off, however, if you can picnic in Scotland you should be able to picnic anywhere! Hope you find time for one this summer. I think there’s a joy about about eating outdoors which is hard to define.

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