Warmer weather and sunnier skies have us dreaming about beach days, backyard hangouts (with delicious barbecue side dishes, of course!), and plenty of picnic food ideas. And we’re not talking about your typical al fresco fare — we’ve rounded up picnic food ideas that’ll please kids and adults — colorful vegetarian recipes as well as hearty meat lovers’ eats. It’s the perfect time of year to pack a wicker basket, break out a checkered blanket, and head to your favorite patch of grass (the backyard counts!) to soak up some sun.
So what food do you bring to a picnic? The key to great picnic food is an array of sides, snacks, or apps that don’t have to be served at a particular temperature — nothing ruins a day in the park faster than your steaming meatball sub melting the ice cream it was packed with. Room temperature food is best, or options that can sit for a bit without losing flavor. Some of the recipes we recommend, like grain salads or hearty baguette sandwiches, actually get better as they sit and the flavors meld. Bonus points for easy make-ahead meals that you can prep the day before— which means more time outside and less time in the kitchen. And brownie points for anyone who brings dessert— because there’s nothing better than ending a serene day with a little something sweet.