Pack It Up! It’s National Picnic Month

1 07 2016

July is National Picnic Month, and how fitting that the 4th of July holiday is one of the most popular picnic days of the year!

National Picnic Month

Whether you are taking an intimate picnic basket to a quiet place, or meeting with friends and family for a big picnic-pool party, remember that picnics can be great platforms for healthy summer foods (just think juicy sweet watermelon!). Fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere and provide us with great ways to share cool treats. Grilling can also be a perfect way to cook up things like ground turkey or salmon burgers, portabella mushrooms, zucchini planks, ears of corn, and even fresh pineapple. So get creative, and feel free to show off your red, white, and blue! Try some of these great ideas to make your picnic a hit:

Grilled Corn Summer Salad:

Healthy Summer Snacks:

Watermelon Mango Salsa:

Chicken Guacamole Burgers:

Balsamic Chicken Skewers (these would be good with pork or salmon too!):

Watermelon, Feta, and Blackberry Skewers:

7 Layer Greek Dip:

Easy Flag Fruit Dessert (you could also use sliced bananas for the white stripes to make it healthier):

Of course picnics are great fun, but don’t forget about safety! Harmful bacteria (those pesky “bugs”) love the hot, humid days of summer, so beware. Cases of food borne illness increase during the summer months due to the heat and humidity, as well as an increase in outdoor activities. Remember these tips to keep your picnic a safe zone:

  • Keep things clean. Wash hands and surfaces often, especially when handling food (unwashed hands are the major source of contamination). Make sure you have a clean source of water at your picnic site, or make sure that you bring some. Packing moist towelettes or wipes can be helpful too.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Keep raw meat or poultry wrapped tight and away from other foods.
  • Pack clean utensils and serving ware for cooking and eating, or use disposables (my favorite choice—easy clean up!)
  • Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold! Cook to safe temperatures by using a thermometer and check out this chart from :
  • Be careful with hazardous cold foods. Lunch meats, chicken salad, cheeses, eggs, anything made with mayo or Miracle Whip…keep them on ice! We found great blow-up ice “chests” to hold containers of cold foods on our picnic tables! Just look for them at your local party store. Or, try “double-walling” it…line and aluminum pan with ice and sit your pan of food right down in it. Replenish your ice as needed.



  • Put things away as soon as possible. If food is out of refrigeration for longer than 2 hours, it may not be safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.


So get out and enjoy your weekend and celebrate National Picnic Month! Have a healthy, active, and safe holiday!

Cathy head shot Cathy Shaw, RD. LD is a registered and licensed dietitian with the WV PEIA Weight Management Program





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