I Love A Good Picnic and a large part of the reason why is the great food. It can be a very lowcost food in many cases.
15 Favorite Picnic Foods:
- German Potato Salad — Potatoes are very inexpensive. Season boiled potatoes with white wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley, and bits of bacon. Chill overnight, and serve cold.
- Veggies and Dip — Your best cheap options here include carrots and celery with homemade ranch dip.
- Pasta Salad — There are all sorts of variations on this. Our favorite is the tri-colored pasta with Italian salad dressing, halved cherry tomatoes, and black olives.
- Hot Dogs — Hot Dogs are also very inexpensive, and they are a picnic/BBQ classic.
- Deviled Eggs — Eggs are a good, cheap source of protein, and deviled eggs are an easy picnic food to prepare.
- Fresh Fruit — Our favorites include watermelon, apples, grapes, and strawberries.
- Corn on the Cob — Very inexpensive. We break the cobs in half so they stretch even further. Many times the kids don’t eat an entire ear of corn.
- Baked Beans — Beans are also cheap food, and canned baked beans are frequently on sale during the summer months.
- Jell-O — I have purchased Jell-O for as little as $0.25 a box. We love to make parfaits with alternating scoops of red and blue Jell-O topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
- Iced Tea/Lemonade — Skip the soda, and opt for ice water, iced sun tea or homemade lemonade instead.
- Rotisserie Chicken — For around $6.00, a rotisserie chicken can be a real bargain. Serve cold for a picnic, and save leftovers to make chicken salad or stock for soup.
- Cheese and Crackers — A store like Big Lots has good deals on chips or crackers. Opt for hard cheeses that hold up better in the heat.
- Garden Salad — Iceberg lettuce, a diced up tomato, shredded carrots, and a sliced cucumber make for a quick, easy, and cheap garden salad. Top with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
- BLT Sandwiches — Pack sliced bread, cooked bacon, lettuce, and sliced tomato for people to build their own BLT sandwiches.
- Waldorf Salad — This is one of our summertime favorites.
Pressed Grilled Chicken Salad Sandwiches
- Heat grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, curry, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken and toss to coat. In a small bowl, combine chutney and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.
- Grill chicken until cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes per side, basting with the chutney mixture during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Cut each breast in half lengthwise, then slice 1⁄4" thick.
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Fold in celery, scallions, grapes, and chicken (along with any juices).
- Cut bread in half through the equator and scoop out the inside of both the top and bottom, leaving a 3⁄4"-thick shell.
- Line the bottom with spinach and top with chicken. Sandwich with the top half of the bread, wrap tightly in foil and press with a heavy pan for at least 1 hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator. Cut into thick pieces when ready to serve.
Green Goddess Sandwiches
I like the briny umami that the anchovies add to the mayonnaise, but feel free to leave them out if you prefer. (You may wish to add more salt, garlic, or lemon if you do.) The mayonnaise keeps well for up to a week, staying vibrant green and marrying the flavors together nicely. I like the onions best when freshly pickled, but they will also keep in the fridge for a week or more. Wrapping the sandwiches in parchment paper prior to cutting them in half helps them to hold together, but feel free to skip this step in favor of deliciously messy sandwiches.
Green Goddess Mayonnaise (makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches):
1/3 cup packed basil leaves
1/3 cup packed tarragon leaves
1/3 cup packed chopped chives
2 medium-large garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup good mayonnaise (such as an olive oil mayonnaise)
Pickled spring onions (makes enough for 4-6 sandwiches):
2 spring onions, bulb thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 slices pan bread (I like something with a neutral flavor such as Josie Baker’s Wonderbread)
1/2 a small, ripe avocado, sliced
2 fat slices fresh mozzarella
1 medium-sized green zebra tomato (or other heirloom tomatoes), sliced
a few thin slices cucumber
several slices pickled onion
a handful of sprouts (such as broccoli sprouts), rinsed and dried
a couple of small lettuce leaves (butter or romaine), rinsed and dried
Make the mayonnaise:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the lemon juice (i.e., the basil, tarragon, chives, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, salt, and mayonnaise) in the bowl of a food processor. Puree smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the lemon juice. Chill until needed.
Pickle the onions:
In a medium-sized jar, combine the onions slices, vinegar, sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Put the lid on the jar and let sit for at least 10 minutes, shaking a few times to dissolve the salt and sugar. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed, up to 1 week.
Assemble the sandwiches:
Toast the bread and spread both slices with a thick layer of the mayonnaise. Top with the avocado, mozzarella, tomato, cucumber, pickled onion, sprouts, and lettuce. Sandwich with the other slice of bread and press down gently. Optionally wrap the sandwich in parchment or secure with two toothpicks, and slice in half with a sharp serrated bread knife or chef’s knife.
MONTE CRISTO SANDWICH LOAF
- 2 (8 oz each) cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 6 oz deli sliced turkey breast
- 6 oz deli sliced Muenster cheese
- 6 oz deli sliced ham
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- powdered sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Separate the crescent dough into 4 long rectangles Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the rectangles on the baking sheet. Press the perforations together to seal.
- In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter and the honey. Brush the mixture over the dough. Bake until they are light golden brown, 8-12 minutes. Let them cool for 15 minutes.
- Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully place one of the baked crescent rectangles on the baking sheet. Layer the turkey over the crust. Place another crust on top, and layer the ham and the cheese over the crust. Add another crust, and spread the jam evenly over the top. Place the last crust on top. Brush with the honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake the loaf for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is deep golden brown and heated through. Let it stand for 5 minutes before cutting into slices. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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