The Blog

Pack up a Picnic

Over the summer holidays or on a leisurely weekend why not pack up a picnic and get the family outside in the fresh air – you could combine it with a nice long walk or a fun bike ride to increase your activity levels too. Picnics don’t have to be boring – there can be more to them than a sandwich, a few crisps and an apple. There are a whole range of foods you can eat on the go that are healthy, tasty and easy to prepare

To help make sure your picnic balanced try and pack foods from the main food groups:

Fruit and Veg

  • Fresh fruit is one of the easiest things to add to your picnic basket or lunchbox without any preparation – apples, oranges, peaches, pears, blueberries.
  • Prepare a fresh fruit salad in a Tupperware container to give you a bigger variety of fruits.
  • Make a salad to take with you – try lettuce, tomato, cucumber and red peppers for a more basic salad or be more adventurous and try something new – Waldorf salad, Caesar salad or whatever you have in the fridge that you can cobble together. Don’t forget fruit can be added to salads too – watermelon, pineapple, pear, apple for example can be incorporated well within salads.
  • Chop veggie sticks like celery, cucumber or carrot into sticks and pack a salsa dip to have with it.
  • Buy little tins of tinned fruit in natural juice with a ring pull for easiness.
  • Pack some little packets of dried fruit – they are healthier than crisps or chocolate to have as a little snack.

Carbs

  • An ordinary sandwich is fine, but you could also shake things up a little. Try pitta breads, bagels, baguettes, crackers, muffins, ciabattas. Try where possible to choose the brown/granary/wholemeal varieties to increase the fibre content.
  • Try making a pasta salad – add lots of chopped veggies.
  • Pack some breadsticks to nibble on.
  • Make some curried rice – just add some peppers, onions and curry powder to cooked rice and serve cold – use brown rice for extra fibre.

Dairy

  • Pack a low – fat yoghurt – you could freeze them overnight and they will help keep your picnic or lunchbox cool – saves you packing an ice pack.
  • Pack some individual tubs of low-fat cream cheese and have with the breadsticks or vegetable sticks.
  • Add some low-fat cheese to your sandwich or bagel.
  • Throw in a yoghurt drink.
  • Try a pot of low fat fromage frais.
  • Pack a milkshake for your drink or a cold carton of milk – watch the sugar content of some milkshakes though.

Protein

Add a filling to your bread of choice i.e. ham and tomato, tuna and sweetcorn, beef and onion, chicken and peppers, egg mayo ( low fat) and cucumber, mashed pilchards and salad, smoked salmon and spring onion.

  • Pack some mixed nuts.
  • Add pulses to your salads.
  • Pack some boiled eggs as snacks.
  • Have a few cocktail sausages… but go easy on them – the calories soon add up.

A little reduced fat olive oil spread to your sandwich choice will add some essential fats – just a scrape to keep the calories down.

Remember to add plenty of drinks, especially in the hot weather. Try flavoured water, cartons of fresh fruit juice, low sugar squashes but off course you can’t beat water. Try icy cold sparkling water for a refreshing alternative. With ordinary water you could ¼ fill a bottle and pop it in the freezer overnight. Fill it up the rest of the way just before you leave for your picnic and you will have cold water for longer throughout the day.

Keep your picnic basket cool with an ice pack – this will keep your food fresher as well as keeping your drinks colder. Put it on the top for best results.

Why not use up the leftovers by making up a packed lunch to take to work the next day. You could even use the ideas here to take a lunchbox with you every day. This can save you money, give you a better variety of healthy foods at lunchtime and also you know exactly what you are eating. This is especially important whilst you are watching your weight - you can pick up a fairly innocent sandwich when you are out and about, but it could be loaded with full fat mayo for example, making it very high in calories.

So, enjoy the summer, eat as healthily as you can, keep active and get out outdoors as much as you can.

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