Family picnic fun

Easy physical activity, nutrition and food safety on picnics.

Summer days are perfect for enjoying a picnic with your family and friends. A trip to the park for a picnic is a good way to pry kids away from their electronics and get them out to play. When it comes to a picnic with kids, skip the pasta salad and complicated sandwiches and bring kid-friendly finger foods. That way the kids can run around the park and occasionally run back to the picnic for a quick bite, then get right back to playing. So what are some good picnic foods?

Sandwiches are an excellent picnic friendly food, such as peanut butter and jelly. If you have children that don’t like, or are allergic to peanut butter and jelly, you can bring a variety of sandwich options (meat, vegetables, hummus and cheese) and allow children to make their own sandwiches. Children are more likely to eat food if they choose it and participate in the preparation.

Fresh fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, berries, grapes, carrots, peppers and cucumbers pack quite easily and work well as finger foods. Pack peanut butter, hummus and veggie dip to jazz up your fresh produce options.

Cheese and crackers are another excellent option. String cheese, cheese cubes, turkey and salami can be stacked on whole wheat crackers. You can also buy the cheese in block form and cut it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter.

Bring along a watermelon for dessert and have a seed spitting contest to add some fun to the outing. Make sure to bring lots of fresh, cold water to keep everyone hydrated as they enjoy their outdoor fun.

Picnics are fun, but it is important to make sure to continue the fun later by practicing good food safety. Michigan State University Extension urges you to always wash your hands before preparing food. Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Put food back in the cooler as soon as you finish eating. If leftovers have been sitting out for more than an hour or two it is best to throw these leftovers out. Keep the cooler in the shade and add additional ice as needed.

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