Picnics can mean much more than a soggy tuna sandwich, here’s some fresh new ideas courtesy of My Virgin Kitchen's Barry Lewis

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Image: 8 picnic food ideas that work a charm

Photo: michell zappa / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: michellzappa

 

1. Desserts in a jar

Jars are a fun and novel way of introducing desserts to the picnic. The potential is endless: lemon meringue pies, parfaits, brownies, fruit salads and cheesecakes are just a few ideas that can be made ahead of time and served with ease (and little mess) at your picnic, the only problem is how many to make!

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Desserts in a jar

Personal Creations / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: personalcreations​

 

2. Baby hasselback potato bites

This is essentially a baked potato sliced thinly to create little pockets which can then be crammed full of delicious flavour. Scaling these down using baby potatoes is just as fun. Make these ahead of time with your fillings of choice – melting cheese is a great one in particular. Serve hot immediately, or cold with a little dollop of sour cream – winner!

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3. Homemade dips

The humble dip has always been popular at picnics. But rather than going shop-bought, why not get a bit adventurous and make your own concoctions? Try this celeriac and hazelnut dip, creamy feta dip or red pepper hummus for something a bit different. Personalise to your liking, then do the easy part of buying the vegetables to dunk alongside with it.

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4. Walking tacos (or sitting in this case!)

This is a really simple concept: grab a bag of tortilla chips (the bag itself will act as your ‘taco shell’), then fill it up with your favourite Mexican-style toppings like lettuce, salsa and sour cream. You could even throw in some cooked chicken and taco seasoning. 

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Walking tacos

Jodimichelle / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: jodimichelle​

 

5. Trail mix

Trail mix-style snacks are great for hiking but they’re just as great for picnics too. Try the standard pick ‘n’ mix of seeds, fruits & nuts or go creative with alternatives such as wasabi and ginger, salted caramel peanut mix or popcorn and cornflakes.

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Trail mix

Kari Sullivan / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: ilovemypit​

 

6. Wrap station

Swap sliced bread for tortilla wraps in your hamper for something a bit different. You can stick to the simple tuna and mayo fillings if you like, but my kids absolutely love it when they get to assemble them themselves. So think about including varied, healthier ingredients and you can even set up a dedicated wrap-making station. 

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7. Homemade lemonades, juices & punch

We can’t talk about picnic treats without discussing some ideas to quench your thirst! You can’t go wrong with a good old orange squash, but why not surprise your guests with something homemade? Whip up some delicious smoothies, you could even freeze some of the mix and make lollies.

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8. Kebabs

There’s something about eating food off of a stick (and I’m not talking cheese & pineapple) that’s really appealing to kids and, well, big kids too. It’s also a great way to introduce colour and variety to the picnic – fruit kebabs, for example, work a charm. It doesn’t stop there: roll up a flattened slice of bread with thin ham like a carpet, then thread through a stick for fun savoury bites. Swap the ham for veg for a meat-free snack. Try a sweet version with marshmallows dunked in chocolate and sprinkled with popping candy. I call these ‘firework marshmallow pops’ and the kids go crazy for them!

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Kebabs

Connie Ma/ CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: ironypoisoning​​