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Top 5 picnic food tips

Posted by Merritt Steidl, deli category analyst
Thursday, July 11, 2013

One of my favorite things to do on a quiet summer evening is head outside for a picnic. It’s a fun change from the normal dinner routine and a great excuse to stay out of the kitchen!

For me, the two keys to a great picnic are a beautiful location, and of course, delicious food. I’m always drawn toward water, so I usually choose somewhere near a lake. I find a flat grassy area and spread out a big blanket because I usually think that’s more fun than sitting at a table.


A picnic would be nothing without the delicious assortment of foods you bring. Here are my tips for picking the perfect dishes to accompany your time in Minnesota’s summer sun.

1. My picnics are usually a spur-of-the-moment plan, so I like things that don’t require much prep. To start, cheese, olives and nuts always make a great appetizer. Plus, they don’t need refrigerating, which makes packing simple. If you’re feeling like a light dinner, add a nice piece of bread along with some hummus and sliced meat, and you’re set!

2. If you’re looking for a more traditional meal, head to our deli for center-of the-plate options like rotisserie chicken, fried chicken or a variety of chicken salads. Another option is bringing a baguette, artisan cheese and sliced meat to assemble sandwiches al fresco at the picnic location.

3. You’ll want a side item of some sort. There are so many wonderful summer salad options – it’s just a matter of deciding what fits with your meal. Lately, one of my favorite salads to make at home is a Mediterranean quinoa. I just cook quinoa and mix in sundried tomatoes, olives, cucumber and feta (along with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste).

If you don’t have time to make something, our delis always have a wide selection of salads. Some of my favorites are Cherry Chicken Pasta, Grilled Vegetable Quinoa, Buffalo Chicken and Vinnie Veggie. There are also salad samplers available if you’d like to have smaller “samples” of four different salads.

4. Here are a few menu ideas to help you get started. Or, mix and match items to make your own spread.*

  • Cheese + Prosciutto + Italian Cracker Knots
  • Rotisserie Chicken + Salad + Artisan Bread
  • 2 Salad Samplers + Artisan Bread
  • Fried Chicken + Potato Salad + Fruit Salad
  • Tabouli + Pita Bread + Hummus + Olives
  • Baguette + Brie + Italian Ham + Olives
  • Selection of Deli Slicing Meats and Cheeses + Wrap or Flatbread + Salad

*If you’re having a 2-person picnic, try the new bakery Bread for Two. It’s the perfect size to split without having leftovers.

5. Don’t forget beverages! A bottle of wine or craft beer is always nice, but many parks don’t allow alcohol. Here are some non-alcoholic options that still feel festive.

  • Twelve – a sparkling fruit juice and tea blend that’s available in two flavors: Blanc and Rouge. Blanc is a citrus-ginger blend. Rouge is a pomegranate-black current blend.
  • Val De France – organic sparkling fruit juices imported from France.
  • Izzes Sparkling Juices – all-natural sparkling juices from Boulder, CO. The beverages are made with 70% pure fruit juice and finished with a dash of sparkling water.
  • Fentiman’s Soda – all-natural, botanically-brewed sodas.
  • Joia Sodas –these all-natural sodas are made in St. Paul using a combination of fruits, herbs and spices.

Finish off the meal with gourmet cookies or brownies. Make sure they stay out of the sun if they’re prone to melting.

Overall, just remember - the simpler, the better. A picnic should be low stress and enjoyable!

Tags: picnicsummer

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