Delicious family picnic ideas for alfresco lunches

by |

Picnic season is upon us! And this year we’re making every effort to do away with those inevitable soggy sarnies and instead pimping our picnics to include these tasty and nutritious on-the-go options from leading children’s cookery author Annabel Karmel.

Picnics are fantastic for any fussy tots too – it’s amazing how not having to sit at the dinner table and feeding themselves works wonders in cleaning (paper) plates!

Cheese and Tomato Muffin Traybake

cheese and tomato muffin

Suitable from 12 months+

This savoury traybake is perfect for picnic outings - simply cut into squares, ready to grab and go! It’s suitable for freezing too so whatever doesn’t get eaten, freeze ready in anticipation for next time the sun shines!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Makes: 15 – 20 portions

Suitable for freezing.


  • 350g self-raising flour

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder

  • 2 tbsp chives, chopped

  • 1 large bunch spring onions, sliced

  • 100g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 50g Feta cheese, crumbled

  • 284 ml buttermilk

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 100ml sunflower oil

  • 2 tbsp milk

  • 100g cherry tomatoes, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C Fan.

  2. Line a traybake tin with non-stick paper.

  3. Measure the flour, baking powder, chives, spring onion and cheeses together in a bowl.

  4. Mix the buttermilk, oil, milk and eggs together in a jug.

  5. Beat until smooth, then add to the dry ingredients and stir, then fold in the tomatoes.

  6. Spoon into the tin and level the surface.

  7. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden and well risen. Cut into squares and serve. Delicious eaten hot or cold.

Veggie Bites

Suitable from 12 months+

These mini bites are a fantastic way to pack in veggies and are an ideal finger food. They are also perfect for batch-cooking and freezing, in readiness for any last-minute picnic planning or after-school playdates.

Edamame Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

Suitable from 12 months+

Making salad fun this summer! Little ones will enjoy slurping their way through this Asian inspired noodle dish. It’s a great recipe to introduce them to different flavour combinations from around the world.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Makes: 3 portions


  • 125g medium egg noodles

  • 125g cooked and shelled edamame (soya beans)

  • 4 tbsp tinned sweetcorn

  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and diced

  • ½ apple, peeled and sliced into thin strips

  • 1 small carrot, sliced into thin strips


  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

  • 2 tsp soy sauce


  1. Cook the noodles in a pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions, drain and rinse under cold running water.

  2. Mix the noodles in a serving bowl with the edamame and remaining ingredients.

  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together with 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl, then pour the dressing over the salad.

  4. Toss together and serve.

Frittata Muffins

Suitable from 6 months+

So much better than a withered looking sarnie, frittata muffins are fantastic alternatives for lunch on-the-go. Plus, did you know that eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients – packed full of protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, folate, vitamin D, iodine and lots more good stuff.

Rainbow Panzanella

Suitable from 12 months+

Children eat with their eyes and so this rainbow recipe is sure to be hit. Plus, it’s a great way to use up bread that’s just past its best. It soaks up the delicious flavours of fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil - kids will love it.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 – 12 minutes
Makes: 2 portions


  • 2 slices of bread, sliced into cubes

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 beefsteak tomato, chopped

  • 150g yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 100g red cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • ¼ red onion, sliced

  • ¼ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced

  • 30g Parmesan cheese, grated

  • A handful of basil leaves


  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

  • Pinch of sugar, to taste


  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 C Fan / 375 F / Gas 5. Put the bread and oil into a roasting tin, season. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and crisp. Leave to cool, then place in a bowl.

  2. Add the remaining salad ingredients and season. Mix the dressing together and pour over the salad. Toss together, then leave for 15 minutes. Top with basil leaves and the grated Parmesan before serving.

Hummus with Pitta Bread Fingers

Suitable from 9 months +

Being placed in a highchair can often be an issue for many babies, with tears aplenty. So, they will likely favour a picnic blanket spread. And with baby a little more relaxed, now might be a good time to get them trying new foods – crudités at the ready!


  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt

  • 2 tbsp sundried tomato paste

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 2 large pitta breads

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 2 tbsp parmesan, grated


  1. Measure all of the hummus ingredients into a food processor and whiz until smooth. Season lightly. Spoon into a bowl.

  2. Preheat the grill. Slice the pitta bread through the middle so you have fairly thin pieces of bread.

  3. Mix the olive oil and garlic together in a bowl. Brush over the bread, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Place under the grill for 5 minutes or until lightly golden and crisp.

  4. Slice into strips and serve with crudités.

Giant Couscous and Chicken Salad

Suitable from 12 months

This tasty couscous salad is a fantastic alternative for little ones to lap up come lunchtime.

Prep: 10 minutes (plus marinating time)
Cook: 10–12 minutes
Makes: 2 portions


  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce

  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger

  • 1 large chicken breast, thinly sliced

  • 100g giant couscous

  • ½ yellow pepper, diced

  • ½ red pepper, diced

  • 50g carrot, diced

  • ¼ cucumber, deseeded and sliced into crescent shapes

  • 50g tinned sweetcorn

For the dressing

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

  • 1 tsp soy sauce

  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce


  1. Measure the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet chilli sauce and ginger into a bowl, and mix together. Then add the chicken to the marinade and leave for 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat the grill and line a baking sheet with foil. Add the chicken and season. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool.

  3. Cook the couscous in boiling water according to the packet instructions. Drain and refresh under cold water. Now mix the couscous with the vegetables. Slice up the chicken a little more and add to the salad.

  4. Combine all the dressing ingredients together and pour over. Mix well before serving.

Granola Bar with Cranberries, Coconut and Flaxseeds

Suitable for babies 12 months

These super-fuelled granola bars are loaded with lots of health benefits – with potassium, vitamins and fibre, they make the ultimate on-the-go snack.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30–35 minutes
Makes: 12–14 bars


  • 100g butter

  • 100g dark brown sugar

  • 60g honey or maple syrup

  • 180g porridge oats

  • 25g flaxseeds

  • 50g sunflower seeds

  • 50g dried cranberries

  • 50g raisins

  • 25g desiccated coconut

  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/325˚ F/gas mark 3 and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.

  2. Melt the butter, sugar and honey together over a low heat until runny. Now add the remaining ingredients and stir until well coated. Pour into the tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon.

  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly golden and firm in the middle. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing into 12 to 14 bars.

Zingy Pineapple Salad Boats

Suitable from babies 12 months

Children eat with their eyes, so why not try out this colourful, fun and fruity way to serve salad!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 pineapple salad boats


  • 100g long-grain rice

  • 80g frozen peas

  • 50g tinned sweetcorn

  • ½ red pepper, diced

  • 6 spring onions, finely sliced

  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

  • 1 small pineapple

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp soy sauce


  1. Cover the rice in boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. Drain and cool. Then cook the peas in boiling water and, again, drain and cool.

  2. Mix the rice, peas, sweetcorn, red pepper, spring onions and carrot in a large bowl. Now combine all the dressing ingredients together, mix well, and add to the rice.

  3. Cut the pineapple in half and carefully cut out the centre, leaving a border around the pineapple halves to make a boat.

  4. Remove the core from the reserved pineapple, then chop into small pieces. Add to the rice and mix well.

  5. Spoon the salad into the empty pineapple shells and serve.

Mini Cheese and Chia Biscuits

Suitable for babies 9 months

A super-simple savoury bake! Task slightly older children in helping you to craft these cheese and chia biscuits for a family picnic.

No park? No problem! These picnic bites taste just as good sat on a rug in the garden, so your tot can still relish the joy of eating outdoors.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20–22 minutes
Makes: 35 mini biscuits

Suitable for freezing


  • 110g plain flour

  • 70g unsalted butter

  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 50g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

  • 10g chia seeds

  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C fan/325˚ F/gas mark 3, and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

  2. Measure the flour, butter, cheeses, thyme and chia seeds into a food processor. Whizz until the mixture is roughly chopped. Add the egg and whizz again, until the dough comes together.

  3. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface to slightly thinner than a £1 coin, then stamp out rounds using a small fluted cutter. Place on the baking sheets.

  4. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly golden and firm in the centre. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Popular articles to read next

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us