A family picnic means good food and good company.

A Picnic Menu for Kids

by Aya Pauli

Picnics are an adventure unto themselves when you're a kid. When you're a parent, picnics become an ideal opportunity to use up leftovers to create a quick meal. Best of all, the outdoor activity involved in picnicking means kids work up a real appetite and may be less picky about food selection. Hunger may even inspire little ones to try new dishes and ingredients they would otherwise refuse.

1. Asian

Bring an Oriental flair to your family picnic with an Asian-inspired menu good enough for even kids to gobble up. Roll leftover white rice into balls and sprinkle with rice vinegar, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to create bite-size rice balls. Wrap shredded chicken, soy sauce and Asian vegetables, such as water chestnuts, in lettuce leaves to make lettuce rolls for the meal. Keep the items chilled in a picnic cooler until mealtime. Add store-bought fortune cookies for an easy dessert or make individual cups of rice pudding for a classic dessert.

2. Southern

Cold fried chicken and all the fixings is a classic menu for a Southern-style family picnic. For the easiest preparation, purchase the fried chicken from a grocery deli. Remember to pack plenty of napkins for the greasy and crumb-covered fingers that result from eating fried chicken. Add potato salad with mustard dressing or creamy Parmesan dressing and cold biscuits to the basket to round out the meal. Finish off the menu with blueberry crumble bars or individual peach cobblers.

3. Vegetarian

Stuff a whole-wheat pita with feta, tomato, basil, lettuce, sprouts and hummus or creamy balsamic dressing for a sandwich that satisfies kids and adults. Toss cantaloupe balls and cherry tomatoes together for a refreshing picnic salad, or combine cucumbers and peanuts for a crunchy salad. Serve apples slices drizzled with honey for a simple dessert or dip strawberries in melted chocolate and chill for a fancy dessert.

4. Simple

A simple menu with sandwiches, chips and fruit is easy to prepare for a family picnic. Stack smoked turkey, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cucumbers and mustard on thick sourdough bread for a fancy flavor or layer honey ham, cheddar, lettuce and mayonnaise or creamy dressing on white bread for a simple sandwich. Pack in-season fruit grown locally for the best flavor and lowest-cost. Include baked potato chips in your picnic menu to keep things healthy or indulge with flavored potato chips and a creamy ranch dip. If the chip bag is open, you may want to repack the snack. Pack the potato chips in a plastic storage bag filled with air to prevent the chips from crumbling during transit to the picnic site. Serve cookies or brownies for dessert to stick with the simple theme.

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