Nutritionist Lizzi shares some great advice on picnic ideas for your days out!
I’ve used my Nutritional Knowledge, based on real science, to put together some tasty picnic and snack ideas for the whole family, to keep you all going on Rachel’s awesome walks and days out suggestions.
As a parent, chef and Nutritionist I LOVE food, especially when I can make it functional and even into an activity (not compulsory!)
What should picnics include?
Easy picnic nutrition 101: You need two types of food:
1. Food that will sustain you for the duration/rest of the walk and
2. Food you can all eat when you’re flagging.
In Nutritional terms that’s mixing unrefined and refined carbohydrates with good fats, proteins and fibre to help you feel fuller for longer.
Refined carbohydrates will be what you will need when you’re feeling tired and need a boost (even toddlers need a boost of energy sometimes #hangry!) These foods for when you’re flagging will probably be easiest to be consumed in snack form so you can quickly grab them and eat anywhere, even on the go if and when you and your family need a pick-me-up. Depending on where you are this doesn’t even have to be pre-packed in your bag, although if you have kids you probably always have a bag of snacks! If you forget the snack bag the refined sugar you need for the boost can be found in ice cream, cake or chocolate bar form!
If you prefer not to have refined sugars for snacks, fruit (fresh or dried) is a really versatile non refined option which will provide a pick-me-up.
During shorter journeys a mixture of refined and unrefined carbohydrates with fats and protein work well for snacks. My carrot cake recipe encompasses these nutritional qualities to give both a boost of energy and sustain you to keep going on your journey. Protein helps maintain & build muscle mass, which will be perfect for the physical activity you’ll be doing walking or running around after the kids on a day out!
You don’t have to be a wiz in the kitchen to turn your nutritional picnic and snacks into a reality as I’ve developed a few adaptable recipe ideas and divided them into three categories of preparedness, so you don’t even need to be super organised to make sure your family is fully fuelled for your adventures!
Grab and Go ideas for picnics
My number 1 tip is to always have a packet of wraps in your cupboard or freezer! (they can last frozen for around 4months and thaw out singularly on a plate super-fast). Wraps feel more fun and versatile compared to sandwiches and you can wrap and cut them however suits your family, putting each one easily into a Tupperware, ready to whip out when hunger strikes.
Wholemeal, 50/50 and seeded wraps contain unrefined carbs, releasing energy slowly as & when your body needs it on your day out, keeping you fuller for longer.
There’s also loads of quick options to pack the protein into these through:
|Grab & Go Wrap filing option||How it will help you (the Nutrition)|
|Cheese (grated, slices, spread)||Cheese is also a source of Calcium & Vit D, maintaining teeth + bone strength|
|Chicken/ Turkey cooked leftovers Tuna Houmous||Lean unprocessed meats like left over chicken/ turkey are great protein options (prepacked ham and chicken slices tend to be highly processed and high in salt). Houmous and Tuna also provide a protein boost to help increase muscle mass. Perfect for when you’re having a break on your walk/ day out when your body is most effective at burning fat & building muscle.|
|Smoked salmon/ tinned salmon/ mackerel||Salmon and mackerel add Omega 3, which helps with brain function, tiredness & mood regulation. Hopefully fuelling you for your adventure|
|Pesto Raw Spinach Sweetcorn (from a tin)||All versatile accompaniment options to quickly grab to put with the options above, no chopping involved! You can also help combat tiredness through adding iron-rich spinach to the wraps, you don’t even have to chop it! Just shove it in with one of the easy proteins above!|
|Peanut butter and fruit compote/ jam||Nut butter has useful fats to help combat bad cholesterol while fuelling your body Fruit compote contains fruit sugars which are released slower than refined white sugar (you could replace the fruit compote with jam for a quick booster refined sugar snack)|
Grab and Go Snacks ideas
Crackers, breadsticks and Cheesy puffs (any prepacked crisp that is baked rather than fried and has less than 0.3g salt per bag)
Wholemeal and wholegrain options contain unrefined carbs, releasing energy slowly as & when your body needs it on your day out, keeping you fuller for longer.
Rice cakes, these are great on their own, wholegrain ones will keep you sustained for longer as they contain unrefined carbs but you can also quickly prepare some rice cake toppers:
Three wholegrain rice cakes, three toppings;
- 1 tbsp whole-nut butter (100% no nuts, no palm oil)
- 2 tsp fruit compote (at least 65% fruit)
- 2 tsp pesto/ vegan pesto
Wholegrain rice cakes are unrefined carbs, releasing energy slowly as & when your body needs it, keeping you fuller for longer. Nut butter has useful fats to help combat bad cholesterol while fuelling your body. Fruit compote contains fruit sugars which are released slower than refined white sugar (you could replace the fruit compote with jam for a quick booster refined sugar snack)
My parent hack is this simple buggy fruit snack hack for when you need to get moving but your little one is hungry and you don’t want to have to hand them each piece of fruit and risk either of you dropping it! I’m pretty sure this hack can be adapted for baby wearing carriers too (if you try it please let me know! I’d love to see it, tag me @nutricoachmumma )
If you haven’t got fresh fruit in, you can use tinned or frozen, it normally thaws out in a Tupperware after around 30mins – 1 hour depending on how hot it is!
Fruits are packed with fibre which will keep you full, the sugars in them are great for a pick-me-up and a long-term is vitamins A, D C & E that they contain in to help your body fight off colds & maintain healthy teeth, bones & eye health
Dried fruit box; can literally be a little Tupperware of raisins or the little boxes, any dried fruits can be used, apricots, cranberries, mangos, whatever you have in your cupboard!
Fruit and nut for the bigger kids/ adults; again literally any dried fruit and nuts you like and have in the cupboards, unsalted and sugared options like the mixed nut bags you can get in most supermarkets in the baking or dried food aisles are great.
Dried fruits contain fruit sugars which are released slower than refined white sugar. Nuts are high in useful fats that help combat bad cholesterol while fuelling your body
Picnic ideas to prepare in the morning (while the kids are eating breakfast) :
If you have wraps and have a few minutes while the little ones are occupied, you can easily and quickly cook an egg or fry some chickpeas mixed with tomato puree, dried seasonings and herbs to add to the protein packed filling ideas.
Cous cous salad
Cous cous literally takes minutes to cook, so using it in a hearty, filling salad could be a great picnic edition. Read the recipe here.
Tomato puree is a source of Vit A, helps to maintain eyesight, choosing this option probably won’t help you see better for your walk that day but it’ll help long term! Wholemeal cous cous releases its energy slower than the refined white type so this keeps you fuller for longer
Chickpeas provide a protein boost to help increase muscle mass. Perfect for when you’re having a break on your walk/ day out when your body is most effective at burning fat & building muscle.
Veggies are packed with fibre which will keep you full and a long-term is vitamins A, D C & E that they contain in to help your body fight off colds & maintain healthy teeth, bones & eye health
Grazing box (for kids, platter for adults 😜)
This can be easily put together with a mismatch of anything you have in, some of the things I put in mine include: crackers, bread sticks, rice cakes, chunks of cheese, cucumber, carrot sticks, celery, grapes, olives… basically a portable cheese board that you can eat on the go if necessary! With the crackers, bread sticks and rice cakes wholemeal and wholegrain options contain unrefined carbs, releasing energy slowly as & when your body needs it on your day out, keeping you fuller for longer.
The fruits and salad items are packed with fibre which will keep you full, the sugars in them are great for a pick-me-up and a long-term is vitamins A, D C & E that they contain in to help your body fight off colds & maintain healthy teeth, bones & eye health
Hard boiled eggs
You can hard boil and egg in 8 minutes, so these are a quick protein-filled snack which help you feel full and increase muscle mass. Perfect for when you’re having a break on your walk/ day out when your body is most effective at burning fat & building muscle.
Picnic ideas to pre-prepare with a bonus activity!
If you’d like to get organised AND combine an activity into your picnic/ outing prep then these recipes for pizza and carrot cake should work well; you could even talk about your planned outing with your little-one as you’re making them to get them excited about your upcoming excursion!
My carrot cake recipe is perfect as it uses oat flour (blended oats) which are unrefined carbs, they release their energy slowly as & when your body needs it, keeping you sustained for longer and stop the mood-swings that sugar high and lows can bring. It also uses honey, which is an unrefined sugar, it’s lower in fructose and contains other minerals which are super useful to the body to help fight infections. As it’s unrefined, it’s processed and absorbed more slowly by the body than refined sugar. This means longer-lasting energy and slightly less of a spike in blood sugar, which is easier on your body and digestive system, definitely a useful picnic food trait!
It is also a perfect one for cooking with the kids as you literally chuck all the ingredients together and mix it….what could go wrong?!
These are super fun and often a big hit with the whole family as they can be customised to each person’s tastes! They are easy too, no rising time and no rolling pins needed! Have a look at my pizza recipe– and even better they’ll last for up to three days in the fridge!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this picnic food blog post and that it will help you discover new practical food ideas while learning about Nutrition. I’d love to see pictures of any of the picnic creations you try, please tag me @nutricoachmumma
I also produce personalised plans and provide online support for different diets/ allergies e.g. vegan, nut-free via virtual appointment. As well as downloadable weaning guides and plans. I work with a wide variety of clients, including families, please see my newly launched website for details and to book in with me and get your free into form emailed to you.
Check my Instagram @nutricoachmumma, Facebook, and website for more tasty recipes and Nutritional information explained. My new NutriCoach guide is available for download which has recipes and explains how food works in our bodies like the above blog post, along information on eating behaviours. It is not a traditional prescriptive ‘diet plan’, it’s full of nutritional information and recipe ideas to introduce you to a healthy, sustainable and achievable mindset like that of intuitive eating.
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