Packing a picnic with your child allows you to spend more time together outdoors, whether it's a teddy bear picnic, or a doll tea party in the backyard; a meal at the beach; or a lunch on a hike. It's not hard to find a portable meal your child will love; the most difficult part is choosing foods that will stay safe and taste good at room temperature. As a bonus, most of these ideas double as school lunch fare.
Sandwiches are simple and portable, and can be served at room temperature; they are good picnic fare. For children, a simple cheese or cold cut sandwich may be enough to anchor a picnic meal. You can also try packing tea sandwiches of thinly sliced cucumber and cream cheese, cut into "fingers." Don't neglect peanut butter and jelly and its variations -- peanut butter and honey, peanut butter and fresh fruit, other nut butters or even a hazelnut-cocoa spread.
Not every child likes sandwiches. Plus, it's nice to take a break from standard picnic fare once in a while. Instead, try baking a mini sausage or a section of hot dog inside a cornbread muffin for an easy homemade take on corn dogs; these taste fine at room temperature. On your picnic, you can also take squares or wedges of frittata, stuffed with anything from spinach and tomatoes to leftover pasta. For older kids, pack skewers of basil, cherry tomato and mozzarella balls, or skewers of ham and pineapple; or put your sandwich "on a stick" -- bread cubes or croutons alongside a chunk of turkey or other meat, plus cheese and a cherry tomato.
Salads and Sides
Don't skimp on the side dishes when packing for your picnic with kids. Bring along a selection of cut vegetables, such as carrot sticks or cucumber spears; plus a dip like ranch dressing or hummus. Pack a simple fruit salad or just one fruit -- cut into chunks if appropriate, or left whole in the case of berries and grapes. Or use your melon baller to create a quick but elegant presentation to pack into your cooler. Another picnic must-have is a homemade trail mix. Toss together dried fruit of your choice, small crackers or pretzels and some peanuts or almonds for a snack that's both nutritious and pleasing to young palates.
Sweet treats may be the easiest kid-friendly picnic food to plan for. Cookies, after all, are designed to be portable and eaten with the hands. Bar cookies such as brownies and blondies are simple to prepare and just as easy to pack. Don't forget no-bake treats like rice cereal bars. Other sweet possibilities include scones and tea cakes, caramel or kettle corn and finger Jell-O.
- Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media