Fast, Easy Traditional Picnic Food
Whip up these quick eats in minutes for lunch (or dinner!) al fresco anytime.
What could be more fun or romantic than an impromptu picnic on a sunny day? If a spur of the moment outdoor nosh seems impossible due to a lack of time and preparation, these super quick and easy ideas will put a spontaneous picnic within reach.
Fill a Phyllo Shell
Let prebaked phyllo shells come to your rescue. You can fill these cute little cups with almost anything. Make quick picnic appetizers by loading them with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and your favorite chopped up pizza toppings. Pop them in the oven long enough to melt the cheese.
Other ideas include cramming them with your favorite sandwich fillings, such as tuna, chicken or egg salad. Top with paprika or chili powder for an extra kick. Up the gourmet factor by stuffing them with a mixture of imitation crab or smoked salmon, cream cheese and Old Bay seasoning.
You can even use them for packable picnic dessert dishes. Pile them with pie filling or brie and fruit preserves. Fill them with chocolate chips, marshmallows and chopped nuts, pop them in the microwave for a few seconds and enjoy s'mores in a shell.
Toss Some Pasta
Pasta salad is ideal for a picnic, and you can whip it up in a flash. It is even a great way to use up some of those odds and ends languishing in the fridge.
Cook up your favorite pasta shape al dente or use leftover pasta from the fridge. Stir in your favorite dressing—mayo, Dijon mustard, Italian and ranch all taste terrific in pasta salad. If you have remnants of cooked veggies, toss those in, too.
You can also include diced or shredded veggies from your produce drawer or a handful of frozen peas (they will thaw nicely on the way to the park and help chill the salad to boot!). If you crave a little crunch, supplement the salad with some bacon bits, uncooked ramen or even potato chip crumbs. You may find a new signature dish.
Check out our Pasta Salad Recipes collection!
Wrap It Up
Sandwiches are fine, but wraps are fun and oh-so-portable. You can bundle up something to please everyone from tots and teens to SOs and BFFs. Load flour tortillas or other wraps, such as spinach or tomato, with scrumptious sammie stuffings, such as tuna salad or ham and Swiss. Spread a wrap with PB, plunk on some banana slices and drizzle with honey.
Alternatively, scope out your fridge and cupboards and then follow this formula:
- Start with something spreadable. Mayo and mustard are no-brainers, but you can get way outside of the box on this one. Everything from cream cheese to cheese whiz to leftover mashed potatoes is fair game. Spread it all over one side of the wrap.
- Lay a ribbon of filling down the center of the wrap. Lunchmeat, shredded cheese, protein scraps from last night’s supper and anything else that catches your eye are just right.
- Pile on the produce. A handful of bagged salad, canned veggies or chopped fruit will add crunch, flavor and nutrition.
- Top it off with a little something extra. Bacon bits, sunflower seeds, pine nuts or fresh herbs will put your wraps over the top.
Check out our Sandwich Recipes collection!
You could always hit the drive-through for a bucket of chicken when you want to enjoy a picnic on impulse, but fast food is so passé. Make your own picnic meal in minutes and enjoy fresh food on the go!
Featured recipe: Chicken Fajita Salad Wraps
What go-to staples do you have on hand that might make for a sensational but super-fast picnic dish?