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среда, 30 ноября 2016 г.

How To Pack a Healthy Picnic Lunch

Healthy Food for Picnic Time

One of the most popular activities in the summer  is to be outdoors and enjoy a picnic with the family. This article is about how to pack a healthy picnic lunch.  This article includes suggestions for food you can take, quick salads to prepare, and tips about food safety.

A park is the most convenient place to have a picnic. Most have tables, which make it easier to eat and serve the food, particularly if you are using plates and utensils. Many people  have folding chairs and even small tables they can take in the car, but this isn't always possible if you do not have much space. A more casual gathering may involve taking a blanket and eating on the ground.  Generally kids prefer this to picnic tables anyway.

A beach is another great place to have a picnic lunch although they are often quite crowded, particularly on hot days.  Food safety is always important and we need to have good habits to prevent illness.   If you have ever gotten sick from eating food you know how terrible it feels.   Read on for tips on packing healthy food for your outdoor lunch.

Food Safety Tips
The most important thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the food that we typically eat at a picnic will spoil very quickly. Bacteria will multiply rapidly in most food when it is at room temperature, and it grows even faster  on a hot day.

You cannot always know if something is still safe to eat. Of course, it will become obvious eventually. However, people get sick sometimes from eating something that tasted and smelled fine . This is why food safety is so important when packing a healthy picnic lunch.

Our hands normally contain a lot of bacteria. Bringing along a waterless hand cleaner is a good idea, unless you are going to be somewhere that has public washrooms.

Food must be kept cold, and the best way to do this is to carry a cooler. Anything that normally requires refrigeration at home should be kept cold until you will eat. Leftovers should be put away soon after eating. This is easy to forget when we are having fun and visiting with others, but it only takes a minute to repack in a cooler.  It may seem obvious, but toxins will multiply fast and you may not even be aware of it.

If you are taking raw meat to cook on a barbecue, it should be kept separate from other food. If you are taking a lot of meat, the safest option is to pack that in a separate cooler and use another cooler for other food.

Meat should be well wrapped and in a ziplock bag, or a container with a tight lid, so that any juices that may leak will not end up on other food. Use separate utensils for handing the raw meat when you are barbecuing, and not the same ones you will be using to eat your meal. Raw meat has a lot of bacteria.

Planning a Healthy Lunch For the Picnic

A healthy lunch should include protein as well as lots of vegetables, and some fruit. Protein with each meal helps to keep the blood sugar at a good level.  This will keep you from  feeling hungry  not long after eating. Besides meat and fish, protein is in eggs, cheese and yogurt. The salad pictured here is a filling meal, as it has eggs and ham.

However, you don't need to eat meat or dairy to get protein. Other sources include beans, quinoa, tofu, yogurt (particularly Greek yogurt)  and nuts. Raw almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts all add nice favor to salads, or can be eaten by themselves. Seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are good choices as well.

Once you have decided on a protein food, you will want to include lots of vegetables. You may wish to cut up raw veggies and eat them with a dip or salad dressing. There are endless possibilities as far as salads are concerned. Almost any vegetable can be eaten raw, and is better for you than cooked as no nutrition is lost. There are lots of varieties of lettuce. The darker it is in color, the more antioxidants and vitamins it contains. You also may want to use spinach or other greens. You will get a lot of vitamins and minerals and fiber with these foods.

Cooked pasta, potatoes and rice can be used as well to make salads.  Red and yellow potatoes are particularly nice to make a salad.

Almost everyone loves fruit, and it has a lot of nutrition. One nice thing about summer is  fruit is in season and can be obtained fresh from farmers markets. It's delicious and great for growing and active kids to eat.

For dessert, you could bring homemade cookies, yogurt or raisins, just to give a few examples.

Vintage picnic poster from the public domain.

Some Quick Food Ideas

Quinoa is delicious in a salad. Combine cooked quinoa with cooked squash, sliced zucchini, cherry tomatoes, or other raw veggie that you like. Add parsley, basil or other fresh herb and toss with a vinaigrette.


Cooked pasta goes well with tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrot. It's particularly nice with a sun dried tomato or Italian dressing.


Beans are healthy and have protein. A variety of your favorites with a zesty vinaigrette will provide a lot of nutrition, and they are a good source of fiber as well.


Add more flavor to cooked eggs by cutting in half and sprinkling with paprika and pepper.

Samon and tuna

Canned salmon or tuna can be packed in containers and eaten as is, or with a bun or bread to make sandwiches. Simply mash, add onion and flavorings that you like and just enough mayo to combine. If you use a lot of mayo it will get too wet and a bit mushy.

Finger Foods for Kids

Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon are all popular items to eat at a picnic. I find it a lot easier to take these items whole, and cut them up just before eating them. They spoil quickly once cut, and even if kept cold they don't taste as good as when eaten fresh.

Watermelon is healthy and has almost no calories, and it is one fruit that almost everyone loves, especially kids.

Kids love finger foods, and there are many healthy ones. Carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florettes, grapes and cherries are some great choices. Finger foods are handy to have around for snacks, particularly if you plan to be gone for several hours.

Child Eating Watermelon by Petr Kratochvil

Items to Pack for a Picnic
Nothing is more frustrating than sitting down to eat and realizing you forgot something important. One thing you may need to include is a manual can opener. You may want to take a can of salmon, for example, and prepare it when you arrive at your destination.

You may also need a bottle opener. You don't want to take a bottle of wine with you, only to discover you can't open it.

Condiments may be necessary if you are going to make sandwiches. Mustard, mayo, ketchup. pickles or pickle relish are items that a lot of people like to have.

You also probably will need utensils of some kind, depending on what you are eating, as well as plates. A knife may be necessary to cut up anything that wasn't prepared ahead of time at home.

Many people use paper plates and plastic knives, forks and spoons so they won't have dirty dishes to take home. This makes it easier and more convenient if you don't want to do dishes when you get home.

If you are taking your own coffee or tea, don't forget mugs. You may need glasses for juice or soda unless you don't mind drinking right from the container.

There are other things you might need that have nothing to do with food when eating outside. These would include a large blanket, folding chairs that fit into the trunk of the car, bug spray, and sunscreen.

Napkins and towels are a must. Hands can get sticky eating fruit like watermelon, peaches and so on. Taking some hand wipes or waterless hand cleaner are convenient when you are outdoors.

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