As the weather is growing warmer and more and more people are itching to get out of the house, picnic meals may be the answer to those craving a change in scenery. Whether it’s a picnic in your backyard or at an open park, keep both food safety and fun in mind when planning.
Unless the picnic destination is a few feet from a kitchen, or is at a place with electrical outlets, keeping hot food hot can be a challenge. Immediately double wrap hot sandwiches with parchment paper or aluminum foil as it comes out of the oven. Place soups, casseroles or other hot foods in insulated mugs or containers with tight fitting lids. Take a food thermometer to ensure the food stays at or above 140°F. Plan to eat the food within 2 hours or pack any leftovers in an insulated cooler filled with ice or freezer packs.
Cold foods must be kept at 40 °F or below. Pack food directly from the refrigerator or freezer into an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or gel packs. Never leave perishable foods out of cold storage for longer than 2 hours. Get creative when planning a picnic. It doesn’t have to be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips. Veggie and hummus wraps, lettuce salads or cold pasta salads with protein added, such as beans, peas, chicken, tuna or ham, make delicious picnic fare. Bring some blankets or a tablecloth and don’t forget to pack forks, napkins and hand sanitizer!
Southwestern Style Chicken Salad (Printable PDF)
1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
2 cups shredded or diced boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can no added salt corn, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can no added salt black beans, drained and rinsed
In a large bowl, mix yogurt, lime juice and taco seasoning. Add remaining ingredients; stir to coat. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Serve on whole grain bread, tortilla chips or crackers, or over romaine lettuce.
Yield: 5 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 320 calories, 7 grams fat, 210 milligrams sodium, 32 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 34 grams protein