A parent’s guide to healthy picnics

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And getting the kids involved

Picnics are a fun way of getting out with family and friends, enjoying the outdoors and getting a bit of exercise at the same time.

But picnic food isn’t always the most healthy, so we’ve come up with some easy, affordable ideas to help you put together a tasty and nutritious spread.

The wholegrain, and nothing but

Eating wholegrain foods has health effects on cholesterol and insulin levels, and provides more fibre to help digestion and bowel functions.

Swap the white bread, pasta and rice for wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice. Also consider bulgar wheat instead of couscous and oatcakes instead of cream crackers.

Un-salt your snacks

Replace salty, fatty crisps and nuts with unsalted nuts and popcorn (which also happens to be a whole grain) for nibbles.

Lean into protein

Instead of less-healthy processed meats like sausage rolls, cocktail sausages and scotch eggs, take chicken legs (without skin), cooked chicken pieces, sliced roast beef or even a bit of smoked salmon if you’re feeling posh.

Cut the pastry

Pies and quiches might be picnic favourites, but pastry can be quite an unhealthy choice.

Instead, you could make a tortilla or frittata — basically a thick omelette containing vegetables such as onion, potatoes, spinach and broccoli.

Much more nutritious than a pie, these taste just as good cold as they do hot.

Feel the fruit

You’ll probably want to take something sweet for a dessert, but rather than packing cakes or pastries, think about fruit instead.

Either take individual pieces, a fruit salad in a tub or fruit kebabs on sticks. And if you get the kids to make the kebabs, they’re more likely to eat them as well.

Get some veg in

Pack some tubs of baby tomatoes, sliced cucumber, carrot sticks and any other veg that you and the kids enjoy. These will provide fibre, vitamins and some welcome texture and variety to the menu.

Get active

If you’re going out to the park or beach, pack something to get the kids (and grown-ups) moving, and to stop them getting bored. A football, bat-and-ball set or similar will help burn off the calories.

28 July, 2023