The Best And Worst Foods To Take On A Picnic

The Best and Worst Foods to Take on a Picnic

Now that the sun seems to be almost permanently shining, we're keen to spend every minute that we're not trapped in the office outside, basking in its rays, getting our annual dosage of vitamin D. This warm weather means that picnic season is definitely here: It's time to gather your friends, find that hibernating picnic basket, fold up your picnic blanket, pack your favorite picnic foods, and set off for a sunny day in the great outdoors.

Best: Barley Salad

Grain-based salads are the perfect picnic food: They're sturdy enough to cope with the journey to the park (or wherever you are setting up camp), and to survive the summer heat, plus they are also a healthy, tasty dish to serve. This barley salad is nutty and sweet, and will be popular with everyone at your summer lunch.

For the Barley Salad With Grapes and Pecans recipe, click here.

Best: Black Bean Couscous Salad

Couscous salads are another dish that should be a feature at everybody's picnic. They transport well, and as long as they are tossed in a light dressing, won't become sticky after an hour of being put together.

For the Black Bean Couscous Salad recipe, click here.

Best: Brownies

While anything involving chunks of chocolate is generally a complete picnic failure, a batch of squidgy brownies is the best way to incorporate cocoa into your menu. Bake these brownies the day before your picnic, and they'll disappear fast when you unwrap them after lunch.

For the Classic Brownies recipe, click here.

Best: Chicken Drumsticks

Roasted chicken drumsticks have always been a favorite picnic food, and with good reason. They taste just as good cold as they do straight from the oven, and they can be eaten with your fingers without making too much of a mess.

For the Roasted Chicken Drumsticks recipe, click here.

Worst: Chocolate

On a hot summer's day, one of the worst things you could take on a picnic is chocolate. It will melt before you even arrive at your sunny spot, and you'll end up with a coating of sticky chocolate covering everything that you brought with you.

Best: Edamame and Fresh Peas

Fresh edamame and spring peas, which can be eaten straight from the pod, are ideal picnic snacks. They require no knife and fork, make no mess, need barely any preparation, and the pods can be easily thrown away or composted.

Worst: Egg Salad Sandwich

Anything containing mayonnaise is a picnic health hazard: After a couple of hours of being out of the fridge, mayonnaise is no longer safe to eat, so coating eggs in it and leaving them out in the sunshine for half a day could lead to a poisonous picnic.

For the Egg Salad Sandwich recipe, click here.

Worst: Fried Chicken

We agree that fried chicken is one of the most delicious foods on the planet, but it is not what you should be taking on a picnic. It's greasy, difficult to eat, and incredibly messy. It's also nowhere near as tasty cold as it is fresh out of the fryer.

For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe, click here.

Worst: Green Leaf Salad

A healthy green salad may seem like the perfect picnic side dish, but we promise you it isn't. If you dress the salad before you set off, the leaves will go limp and soggy. If you don't dress it before you leave, then you have to carry an oily dressing to the picnic. (Just try to stop that from spilling everywhere in transit.) Furthermore, if there's a slight hint of wind on the day, all the leaves will simply blow away.

For the Shredded Romaine and Baby Arugula Salad recipe, click here.

Best: Hard-Boiled Eggs

While egg salad is a terrible picnic food, hard-boiled eggs are your picnic's best friend. Cook them to your liking, cool them down in chilled water, and transport them to your picnic still in their shell for a tasty, protein-rich snack.

For tips on Perfectly Hard-Boiled Eggs, click here.

Worst: Hard Cheese

Anything that is difficult to cut is a picnic's worst nightmare. Hard cheese requires a sharp knife and a steady surface — or at least something more substantial than a paper plate — to cut on, which are two things you probably didn't plan on lugging along to your picnic.

Worst: Ice Cream

Any ice cream on your picnic should come from the ice cream truck, not from your cooler. Try taking ice cream with you and you'll end up with a melted, sticky mess, which could ruin your entire day.

For the Tahini Ice Cream recipe, click here.

Best: Pesto Pasta Salad

While mayonnaise pasta salads aren't a good idea, simple pesto pasta salads really are. This family-friendly lunch is just what everyone will be craving on a sunny summer's day.

For the Whole-Wheat Pesto Pasta Salad recipe, click here.

Worst: Plums, Peaches, and Nectarines

Everyone knows that transporting fresh fruit is never a good idea. However tempting it may be to carry ripe, juicy, soft stone fruits to your picnic, try and resist: They will not be in very good shape when you arrive at your favorite picnic spot.

Worst: Potato Salad

mayonnaise-coated potato salad would be the best accompaniment to those chicken drumsticks and that healthy slaw, but it'll likely make you sick, and will coagulate unattractively in your Tupperware.

For the Hearty, Healthy Potato Salad recipe, click here.

Best: Quinoa Salad With Mango and Kale

This hearty quinoa salad can be made well in advance of your picnic, and will last really well. The chunks of mango add a touch of sweetness, balancing out the earthy flavors of the raw kale.

For the Quinoa Salad With Mango and Kale recipe, click here.

Worst: Soda

A cold soda may be just what you're craving on a hot summer's day, but it is actually a recipe for a sticky mess. Not only will it not be cold enough when you get to drinking it, but it will also attract all the bugs and insects because of the high sugar content.

Best: Spicy Asian Slaw

The best way to bring vegetables to your picnic is definitely in the form of a crunchy, spicy slaw. Finely grated and chopped vegetables are tossed in a sweet and tangy dressing for a healthy salad, which will go with everything that you're serving.

For the Asian Coleslaw recipe, click here.

Worst: Sushi

For you city dwellers, picking up a few boxes of readymade sushi to take on your picnic may seem like the best hassle-free solution, especially when you consider that it's bite size, and makes no mess. However, we don't think carrying raw fish around on a hot summer's day is a good idea for your safety, so it's best avoided.

For the Guide to Making Sushi, click here.

Best: Wedges of Watermelon

Pre-cut slices of watermelon are tasty, transportable, and thirst-quenching. Wrap them up carefully, and enjoy the fresh, refreshing slices of fruit at the end of your tasty outdoor meal.