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Perfect Picnic Menu: 50+ Make Ahead Picnic Recipes

Updated August 24, 2017

If you've ever wondered what picnic foods to pack for your fun summer excursion, we have the answer! These perfect make-ahead picnic recipes will help you create the perfect picnic menu and please every palate in the process. Prepare and pack up these delicious appetizers, side salads, picnic sandwiches, drinks, and desserts for any outdoor occasion. This collection is full of picnic ideas and recipes that you can easily take-along and enjoy al fresco!

Whether you're planning an outdoor potluck and need easy picnic food for a crowd, or you're taking your sweetie along for a casual afternoon meal and need some simple picnic food ideas for couples, there's something here for you to love. Big or small, these picnic food suggestions are suitable for any gathering, and they're sure to put a smile on every face.

Picnic Finger Foods

The best appetizers to bring to a picnic are those that you can easily make ahead, like dips, spreads, and other picnic finger foods. We've included both hot and cold recipes that are sure to be a hit as your gang dives in fingers-first. These make ahead picnic recipes are a must-have on your perfect picnic menu.

Picnic Salads

Some of our favorite easy summer picnic recipes are deli salads! Macaroni salad, potato salad, and coleslaw are always party favorites, plus they're easy to make the night before and pack in a cooler for your picnic. Just choose any one of these make ahead picnic recipes and enjoy! Your gang is sure to love these cool and refreshing deli salads.

Picnic Sandwiches

No picnic is complete without sandwiches! Picnic sandwiches are a cinch to make at home and travel easily, making them the ideal make ahead picnic recipe. Whether you prefer fancy wraps or classic sandwiches, you'll love our suggestions for sandwiches to round out your perfect picnic menu.

Picnic Drinks

You can't plan an easy picnic menu without packing beverages! Our cool picnic drinks are just the thing to enjoy when you're dining outside. From homemade lemonade to a refreshing summer punch, these drinks really hit the spot.

Picnic Desserts

The perfect ending to a picnic meal is a delicious homemade dessert! Whether you chose pie or cookies, these easy picnic dessert recipes can be prepared hassle-free the day before your picnic. The best way to put a smile on your family and friends' faces is to include at least one of these yummy make head picnic recipes on your menu.

How to Create the Perfect Picnic Menu:

Now that you've got all these amazing picnic food suggestions in hand, it's time to sit down and plan your menu. We've got some tips to keep in mind as you build the perfect picnic menu so that nothing gets left behind or forgotten.

-Plan ahead: Make a shopping list. First things first. If you're going to whip up some amazing make ahead picnic recipes, you'll need plenty of ingredients. Pick out your favorite recipes from the picnic foods list above (or from your own recipe box!), and start your shopping list. And don't forget to add things like paper plates, napkins, cups, and plastic silverware to your list, if you don't already have them on hand!

-Prepare your food: Using some of our easy summer picnic recipes, prepare your food. From finger foods to desserts, you'll want plenty of options on your perfect picnic menu to please everyone joining you on your red checkered blanket. There are so many options here, your only problem will be choosing which recipes to make!

-Pack your basket: Once your food is ready and you're about to head out on your picnic, you'll need to pack up your food so that it's easily portable. Here's a video of how to pack your picnic basket so that everything stays fresh, nothing gets squished, and nothing spills. 

-Enjoy! The best part of any picnic is eating! Once you've found the perfect picnic spot, laid out your blanket, and opened your basket, you get the joy of digging in to your al fresco meal with good company and plenty of delicious picnic food.


 

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