The Good Picnic Guide: Inspiration For Outdoor Eating

A picnic in the great outdoors is one of summer’s simplest pleasures, and since restaurants are reopening with limited space and social distancing measures in place, there has never been a better time to pack your hamper and head off to a sunny spot to enjoy a laid-back lunch on your picnic blanket.

If you like the idea of an alfresco dining experience, but don’t like the thought of soggy sandwiches or wilted salad, then we have some inspiration for you.  From stylish hampers and cool boxes to suggestions for snacks that are much more exciting than an egg sandwich, read our Good Picnic Guide and get inspired for the perfect picnic.

Wonderful wicker hampers

Nothing screams outdoor eating like a wicker picnic hamper, and this quintessentially British offering from Debenhams includes ceramic plates, cutlery, plastic glasses and napkins for four people.

The basket has ample room for plenty of picnic goodies and even includes a bottle opener – they really have thought of everything you’ll need for outdoor eating.

Chill out on your picnic rug

No picnic is complete without a blanket to spread on the ground and relax on. We love this turquoise and grey waterproof rug from Joules, which has a cosy, soft fleece surface and a practical water-resistant backing so no one in your picnic party will suffer a ‘soggy bottom’. It even folds up neatly and has handles, making it easy to carry and stow away.

A twist on the traditional scotch egg

A picnic is not complete without a scotch egg and we’ve found a bite-sized version that is a must-have for the picnic hamper. These scotch eggs have a pea and ham filling at the centre and are fun to make – so get the kids involved.

Transform the humble sandwich

If you’re tired of a plain ham sandwich, then we’ve got some exciting inspiration for anyone who wants to pep up their picnic.

Forget the white sliced loaf, there are so many tasty alternatives out there that can be packed with healthy or indulgent fillings – all of which are delicious.  Try a baguette packed with salami, mozzarella, spinach, basil and pesto for an Italian-style sandwich.

If you love a ploughman’s lunch, then this recipe lets you pack all the flavour of cheese, pickle and apple into a homemade bread roll.  The only challenge you’ll have is to not eat them all before the picnic starts!

Vegetarian picnic inspiration

There are so many exciting al fresco dining recipes that are suitable for vegetarians. We love this veggie take on a sausage roll, which replaces sausage meat with a stuffing of mushrooms, chestnuts, leeks and cheese, wrapped in butter-puff pastry.

Mini quiches are another perfect picnic food, and this savoury tart is an indulgent dish that makes the most of the flavour of porcini mushrooms.  They are delicious eaten cold on a picnic, or straight from the oven with a green salad for a tasty lunch at home.

Sauces and condiments

Many a picnic has been ruined because someone forgot to pack the mayonnaise and pickle – after all, what is a pork pie without a dollop of chunky pickle?

We’ve found a selection of sauces and condiments that are so delicious they will be at the top of your picnic list, so they’ll always be the first thing you pop in your hamper.

This homemade mayo recipe does require a little effort, but we promise you it is worth it – we doubt you’ll use shop-bought mayonnaise again after you try this recipe.

Hummus is a simple and healthy addition to your picnic condiments and is a great accompaniment for pitta bread, crudités and tortilla chips.  Jamie Oliver has a simple hummus recipe that will allow chickpeas to be the star of the show at your next picnic.

Portable picnic desserts

Round off your picnic with a sweet treat that is easy to transport and doesn’t require refrigeration.

If you are looking for something decadent, then we suggest these peanut butter and chocolate brownies. We can’t promise they are calorie-free – but they certainly are delicious.

For something fruity, we suggest this sweet strawberry and kiwi pizza. It includes one of your five-a-day and is held together with a cheesecake style filling on top of a cookie ‘pizza base’.

A ready-made picnic to grab and go

If you’d rather have your picnic made and delivered to you for an extra-special outdoor dining experience, then take a look at the range of handmade picnic baskets from Pique.

We particularly like the £50 Pimms O’ Clock basket which includes Coronation chicken with toasted flaked almonds, caramelised onion & thyme sausage rolls, mini scones with Pimm’s strawberry tangerine and mint preserve, plus two cans of ready mixed Pimms with chopped fruit.

Refreshing outdoor drinks ideas

Thirst-quenching picnic drinks can add the finishing touch to your outdoor meal on a hot summer’s day, but it’s important they can be kept cool – warm lemonade is not a nice way to round off your picnic.  We love this portable drinks cooler that comes complete with a two wine glasses and is ideal to keep a bottle of Prosecco chilled. Of course, it can also keep non-alcoholic drinks cold too, so whatever your tipple may be, this is a worthy investment.

Round off the day with some outdoor games

After all those picnic snacks, you might want to burn off some of the calories and entertain the kids with some fun games.  Oliver Bonas have created a collection of fifty traditional outdoor games that provide the perfect way to round off a summer’s afternoon in the great outdoors.

The games include the traditional egg and spoon race, batons for a relay race and three-legged race bands to entertain the young – and the young at heart.