Planning the perfect picnic

(Photo courtesy of The Alabama Cooperative Extension Office)

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Spring has sprung. The weather is warming up and nature is starting to teem with new life. Since Friday was National Picnic Day, it is the perfect excuse to enjoy the spring weather with a family picnic. So, grab a cooler – fill it with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy – and head to the family’s favorite outdoor spot to create some wonderful memories. Eating healthy, being physically active and spending time in the sun can positively change the way people feel.

Become a Picnic Pro

When planning the picnic, choose easy, inexpensive meals that the whole family will enjoy. For those that have young ones in the house, get them involved in preparing for the picnic by letting them plan part of the menu. Let them choose what fruits they enjoy or which perfect picnic spot they would like to go to. The picnic could be at a park with a playground, or it could also be in the backyard under a tree.

After the meal, the family could engage in physical activity by throwing a frisbee around, playing tag or going on a family walk or jog. Encourage the family to get up and move around after eating and spend more time in the sunshine. Spending time in the sun helps the body make Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bone development and a strong immune system.

Perfect Recipes for a Picnic

The following recipes from Live Well Alabama are great, easy options for a family to take on a picnic:

Picnic Pasta Salad


  • ½ cup fat-free Italian dressing
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 8-ounce package noodles, cooked


Mix ingredients in a large bowl. Chill and serve.

Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Salad


  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 avocados, diced


Mix cucumber, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl. Toss vegetables with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add diced avocado just before serving.

Fruit Paradise


  • 1 can pineapple chunks in 100 percent juice, 20 ounces, drained
  • 1 can mandarin oranges in 100 percent juice, 15 ounces, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grapes, seedless
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt


In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Chill and serve.