Bottomless pits: Top 10 picnic items to feed hungry kids
Summer isn’t the only time to enjoy picnics. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can bring your picnic indoors, or if your local park has a bandstand or gazebo then set up camp under there instead. If you're feeling more adventurous, you could even take a tent to the local woods for a wild picnic.
Picnics can be a simple sandwich and packet of crisps, but if you're like me, they're more likely to be spread out like a mini buffet, and consist of any (or even all) of the following:
1. Pasta Salad
Fill a plastic box with your favourite pasta salad, whether it be tuna, mayo and sweetcorn, or a simple pesto pasta with roasted vegetables. Don't forget to pack the plates, forks and spoons!
2. Potato Salad
So easy: Toss a few steamed new potatoes in a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and finely chopped spring onions, and you're good to go.
3. Picnic Loaf
What better way to enjoy all of your favourite sandwich fillings than in a layered picnic loaf. This needs overnight refrigeration so make sure you leave time to prepare the day before. Slice the top off a bloomer loaf and scoop out some of the bread from the inside. Layer your favourite fillings - roasted vegetables, cheeses, cooked or cured meats and dressings, before placing the 'lid' back on, wrapping tightly in clingfilm and refrigerating overnight. Once it's fully chilled, you can cut into thick slices or wedges to serve.
4. Pizza Pinwheels
All the flavour of a pizza in a fun wheel.
This recipe makes approx 10:
400g ready made pizza dough base
4-5 tbsp passata
100g grated mozzarella
handful fresh basil, chopped
75g pepperoni, sliced & chopped
- Lay the ready rolled sheet of dough out
- Spoon the passata onto the dough and spread around with the back of a spoon
- Scatter the grated mozzarella over the passata and top with the basil and pepperoni
- Roll up tightly from one of the shorter ends
- Slice into 1-1.5 inch pieces and lay onto onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper
- Bake in a preheated 200°C oven for approx 15 minutes, until risen and the cheese is bubbling
5. Jam Jar Salads
I personally love this idea as the individual jars can be tailored to each persons likes and dislikes. You could even set up a salad station before you go out, and get the kids involved with layering up their own jar. Ingredients to try: rice, pasta, sweetcorn, salad, avocado, roasted vegetables, grated cheese, mixed beans, cooked meats, dressings and sauces. Tip: add the wetter/heavier ingredients to the bottom.
6. Sausage rolls
Homemade sausage rolls can be fun to make with the kids, and they're also very easy. You will need a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, your favourite sausages and some sauce - mustard, brown sauce, BBQ sauce or ketchup. Cut the pastry into strips wide enough to wrap around the sausage with 2cm overlap. Brush your sauce onto the pastry and lay the sausages on top. Roll it around and brush some beaten egg to seal the edge. Slice in half and place on a baking sheet and brush with more egg before baking in a preheated 180°C oven for approx 30 minutes.
7. Chicken strips or roast chicken
Cook up some chicken breast pieces and slice into strips, or roast a chicken and remove the meat from the bones. Wrap in foil to take on your picnic.
8. Mini quiches or savoury egg muffins
Homemade or bought, I find that anything in a mini version is a hit with the kids. Savoury egg muffins are basically a crustless quiche and can be made in just a few minutes by beating an egg with a little milk and a pinch of herbs and pouring into a silicone mini muffin tin before topping with cheese and half a cherry tomato and baking until puffed up and golden brown.
Good old-fashioned sandwiches can be made a bit more interesting by flattening the bread with a rolling pin and rolling up your favourite filling before cutting into slices. For young children you could instead cut fun shapes with cookie cutters out of the sandwich.
10. A Sweet Treat
Tea loaves, fruit cake and banana bread always travel well. Just remember to pack a knife and some butter for a delicious end to your picnic.