Planning the Perfect Picnic Menu

Are you looking for the perfect picnic menu? Then you've come to the right place. I'll share my two favorite picnic menus with you and give you tips for selecting your own favorite menu.

What is the perfect picnic menu?

Well it depends. Not the answer you were looking for? Sorry. It really does depend - on your preferences and the type of picnic foods you like.

Some people are diehard barbecue fans and a picnic just isn't a picnic without barbecue pork and baked beans. Others associate the smell of a charcoal grill with their favorite picnics so hamburgers and hot dogs have got to be on the menu. Still others want to go places for their picnic, like hiking or the park, and their perfect menu is whatever they can stuff into their backpacks.

My favorite picnic menu:

I have two picnic menus that I would categorize as perfect - one is fried chicken and the other is chicken salad. Maybe it's because we ate these often on childhood picnics or maybe it's because I just like them best.

  • Menu No. 1
    Fried chicken
    Potato salad
    Cole slaw
    Baked beans
    Lemonade and iced tea
    Chocolate chip cookies
  • Menu No. 2
    Chicken salad croissants with lettuce and tomato
    Potato chips
    Lemonade and iced tea

Planning your perfect menu:

If neither of my favorite menus appeals to you, then here are some tips for planning your perfect menu.

  • Think of your favorite meal and translate it into a picnic menu. For example, let's say you like steak. Is there a grill at your picnic location? Great - let's plan for grilled steak. But instead of mashed potatoes, serve grilled ears of corn. Round that out with a green salad and you've got your perfect menu.
  • Start with dessert and work backwards. Suppose you are really in the mood for s'mores and that's all you can think about. That's ok. Will there be a campfire for those s'mores? Good. Think about what else you can cook over a fire that would be good with s'mores. How about hot dogs? Or chicken, potatoes and vegetables in a tinfoil packet?
  • Somebody else's perfect menu. What if you love meat but your significant other prefers vegetables? Hmmm. Sometimes you compromise and blend both preferences into the menu but other times you lay your preferences aside and plan the other person's favorites. What if it is your kids' end-of-school picnic? You forget about those gourmet salads you love and plan a kid-friendly menu instead.
  • Have fun choosing your menu but don't stress yourself by trying to make then menu or your picnic too perfect. You'll just make yourself anxious and unhappy. Relax, keep it simple and have a great time.
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