University of Illinois Extension

Food for Thought - University of Illinois Extension

Summer Picnic Fun

Summer is a great time for a picnic. A picnic may be a big event for lots of people or it may be just packing a sandwich and some carrot sticks and taking the kids to a nearby park or the backyard for lunch. Whenever you carry food from the house, you need to be sure the food will be safe to eat.

Follow these top ten food safety tips to be sure your lunch is safe:

  • Keep everything that touches food clean - utensils, bowls and countertops.
  • Wash hands with hot soapy water.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables carefully.
  • Wrap and tightly seal foods.
  • Refrigerate lunches prepared the night before.
  • Include a commercial ice pack or a frozen container of juice with your lunch.
  • Freeze sandwiches. Tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables do not freeze well, pack separately.
  • Use a chilled vacuum bottle to keep milk and juice cold.
  • Store your lunch in a cool place. Never leave lunches in direct sun.
  • Keep lunch boxes clean. Wash lunch boxes or laminated totes after each use.

What's for Lunch?

A good lunch can be nutritious, creative, exciting and delicious. A good lunch should have foods from at least four of the Food Guide Pyramid groups.

Here are some ideas to get you started on planning your next lunch-to-go.

  • Make your sandwich on different bread, cinnamon-raisin, whole wheat, bagel, English muffin, tortillas or pita pockets.
  • Pack small bags of dried cereal, graham crackers, popcorn or pretzels for a snack. Bag vegetables separately to add to sandwiches later.
  • Choose:
  • lettuce, any leaf lettuce, spinach leaves
  • shredded carrots
  • shredded cabbage
  • sliced tomatoes
  • diced peppers
  • thinly sliced cucumbers or radishes
  • alfalfa or bean sprouts
  • Include small containers or bags of fresh berries, orange or grapefruit sections.
  • Add small bags of dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped dates or apples.

Summer Snacks

Kids and adults like to snack. Snacks are a good way to add foods to the diet that may not be eaten at mealtime. Remember the Food Guide Pyramid when you are planning snacks for your family.

Snacks are a good way to get an extra serving of fruits or vegetables. Have a sliced apple with a thin layer of peanut butter spread or carrots with a little dip. Often children don't get enough foods from the dairy group so have cheese and crackers for a snack. Have your kids help you plan their summer snacks.

Celery Butterflies

2 celery ribs
1 eight-ounce jar cheddar cheese spread
8 large twist pretzels Broken pretzel pieces
12 raisins

Cut celery ribs in half crosswise. Fill with cheese. Stick a twist pretzel onto both long edges of celery to form butterfly wings. Use broken pieces to make antennae at one end. Place 3 raisins down the middle of the cheese for decoration. Serves 4.

Peanut Butter-Banana Snack

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
8 whole-wheat crackers
1 banana, peeled and cut into 8 round slices
8 raisins

Spread peanut butter on crackers and top each with a slice of banana. Place a raisin in center of each banana slice and repeat for all banana-topped crackers. Makes 8.