The Health and Wellbeing column with Heart Research UK: Top tips to create healthier picnics

Picnics are always a winner in the summer months (when the weather allows).

By Phil Hutchinson
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:59 pm
Homemade is always best when making picnics. Photo: Heart Research UK
Homemade is always best when making picnics. Photo: Heart Research UK

Picnics are always a winner in the summer months (when the weather allows).

They are the perfect way to socialise with friends and family while spending more time outdoors, which is good for us all.

July marks National Picnic Month and here we share some top tips for creating heathier picnics this summer – goodbye squashed sandwiches and crushed crisps!

We all seem to be much busier than ever before these days and I can completely understand the reliance on convenience foods, especially for picnics.

However, once we invest in a few key bits of equipment we really can start making healthier picnics without too much extra effort; if anything it’s probably quicker to pop something together using ingredients you already have, than head to the shops specifically for ‘picnic food’.

Using a cool bag means we can easily pack nutritious and quick options like yoghurts and fresh fruits that would otherwise not be wise on a warm day.

I love using little snack-sized skewers to take a healthy, complete meal out and about, you can just about put anything on a skewer and they make things look much more attractive, especially to children.

If the picnic is last minute, or you are pushed for time, it doesn’t have to be complicated – go for a cheese board option with cheese, grapes, apples and crackers and chop some crudités to serve with hummus, a balanced picnic in 10 minutes! Again, all these options aren’t very appetising when warm, but served cool, everyone will want to dig in.

Finally, you can probably skip the sweet treats, as if you are anything like me, you’ll be grabbing an ice cream while out on your adventures – after all, it is about balance and moderation.

Here are the top tips for a healthly picnic:

Get a Cool Bag

A healthy, nutrition packed picnic must be kept cool for optimal enjoyment. If there was ever a time to invest in a cool bag/box it is now.

When you don’t have to worry about what will stay fresh in the warm weather, the sky really is the limit in terms of what you can pack.

Think fresh salads, juicy fruits and protein packed yoghurts.

Pop it on a skewer

Skewers make everything more picnic friendly and just about any meal can be adapted to fit on a skewer.

Try adding cooked meats, halloumi or feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and olives or making a rainbow fruit skewer using lots of different colour fruits.

Prep in Advance

Homemade is always best and taking some time the day before your scheduled picnic to whip up something yummy can take your picnic to the next level.

We love easy to grab things like these heart healthy cheese and courgette muffins which go down well with both adults and children.

○ Heart Research UK is the charity dedicated to people’s hearts.

The organisation inspires and invests in pioneering medical research, ground-breaking training and education, and in communities to improve heart health.

For more tips on how to stay healthy, sign up for HRUK’s weekly healthy tips at www.heartresearch.org.uk/healthy-tips.