11 Make-Ahead Recipes That Are Perfect for Your Picnic
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These recipes will cut out day-of preparation for your picnic enjoyment
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Knowing when to cook a dish a day ahead saves time and improves flavor.
Go outside and enjoy the nice weather before fall leads quickly to winter, and our seasonal hibernation starts all over again. Take a day to relax and soak in the views in a nearby park, or simply set up a picnic in your backyard — either way, food will be the centerpiece of the day. Picnics are a great way to gather with friends and family, but large groups mean more cooking. We’ve all been there. It’s the 11th-hour crunch when you start to realize you just might not finish all the work you planned.
Click here for the 11 make-ahead recipes (slideshow).
Save some time by working ahead so the mad rush doesn’t sneak up on you. Instead of living through the shame of showing up empty-handed, try one of these make-ahead recipes that will help you manage your time and your expectations.
Whether you prefer dips, salads, or desserts, there are plenty of recipes that will give you a little more time to set up the day beforehand — without sacrificing taste or quality.
Holly Clegg’s 8-Layered Greek Dip
Dips make for perfect picnic fare. This Mediterranean-inspired version features hummus, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and pecans. Just serve with pita chips and enjoy!
Farro and Grilled Corn Summer Salad
Making salads ahead of time can be tricky. Lettuce wilts and nobody likes soggy ingredients, but salads with hearty grains and vegetable bases instead of greens mean you can mix them up the day before without worrying about droopy greens.
Angela Carlos is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter, and tweet @angelaccarlos your favorite make-ahead recipes.
21 Perfect Picnic Recipes (Food and Drink Ideas!)
Picnics are wonderful, aren’t they? A day out in the sun with friends, family, or a significant other, nature all around, games, and delicious picnic food! Such an awesome way to relieve stress and just relax for the day.
Now, you could simply pack a few sandwiches, chips, and soda and call it a day, but if you want some really good picnic food (that’s easy to make), check out the ideas below!
What to take with you for a picnic
There’s nothing more annoying than arriving at the ideal picnic spot, grabbing the wine bottle and glasses out of the picnic basket and realizing that you forgot the corkscrew. Note to self: Preparation is everything. And while we’re on the topic of drinks—let’s cover the basics, which you’ll find below in a checklist. The purchase of a cooler with ice or cooler bag with batteries is not a must, but absolutely worth it for continuously cool and sparkling drinks on hot summer days.
Our tip: Paper or plastic tableware is fine but in terms of being environmentally conscious, reusable dishes are the much better option. They can easily be rinsed off at home.
Packing list: The 7 picnic essentials
1. Picnic basket
2. Picnic blanket
6. Napkins or paper towels
Berry Cantaloupe Fruit Salad
Fruit salads are almost always tasty, but this one features an extra kick with the addition of lime zest and mint leaves. Plus, since it features only melon, strawberries, and blueberries, you won’t have to worry about any of the fruit getting too mushy or mangled. Grab the recipe from Damn Delicious here .
21 make ahead salads perfect for potlucks and picnics
We've all been there. You need to bring something to a potluck/cookout and your mind thinks dessert, salad or drinks. Then you hear someone else already has dessert and drinks covered, so salad it is.
But that doesn't mean you need to go boring or take something that wilts in no time. I've asked some blogger friends to show me their best ideas for make ahead salads that are perfect for a potluck, picnic or even just to take to work for lunch. These super salads will see you through summer.
Beans are a great option for salads that are hearty but still relatively healthy and can stand up to a bit of shaking around. Why not try a black bean sweet potato salad for a good dose of veggies as well, or a bean and pecan salad from Imagelicious (above right) for a more unusual combination of flavors.
You can also combine beans with another favorite, lentils, in this bean and lentil salad from The Stingy Vegan (above). Bean salads are definitely on my list to play around with a bit more this summer.
Lentils sometimes get a bit of a bad reputation as being boring, which I think is such a shame. They really have so much more to offer - they're robust, healthy and great at taking on flavor. Plus you can pair them with a whole host of things as these salads show. This golden beet and lentil salad with strawberries from Rhubarbarians (above left) is so full of color, while the lentil spinach salad with prune vinaigrette from Midlife Croissant (above right) draws on lentils' earthiness.
I love roasted tomatoes anyway (see my slow roasted tomatoes for another great addition to your summer eating) and so can't wait to try this roasted garlic tomato salad from Wendy Polisi (above left). My French lentil salad with feta, fennel and celery is a lovely simple combination of aromatic flavors.
I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of pasta salads in general. I think I've just had a few where there was no real flavor or they got all dry. However I think this Italian orzo salad from Veggies Don't Bite (above left) or farfalle with pepperoni, mozzarella and broccoli from Garlic and Zest (above right) would win me over no problem.
Despite my general view, I do like couscous salads, whether a bit more traditional like this 10 minute Greek-inspired couscous salad from Sprinkles and Sprouts (above left), or more unusual like my fruit herb and feta Israeli couscous salad (above right).
Grain salads are another great option for something that's a bit more filling, but in a non-heavy way. One of our favorites in past summers was this caprese quinoa salad (above left). Or keep it simple with this einkorn wheat berry salad from Stacey Homemaker (above right).
I've become quite a fan of farro in salads and love all the crunch of this raw vegetable and farro salad from Pinch and Swirl (above left). While the ingredients may be more autumnal, this farro salad with roasted squash (above right) is great for any time of year.
Of course, you can also largely (or completely) stick to vegetables for a salad that will stand some shaking and that everyone will love. Our recent and instant favorite was this Mexican street corn salad (above) but I'm also looking forward to trying this colorful kohlrabi beetroot and apple salad from Coffee and Crayons (below left) and perfect detox salad from Innocent Delight (below right).
While you need to be a bit more careful about keeping seafood cool compared to some of the other salads, it can still travel better than you might think. Paired with the right ingredients, it can hold up to a little moving around and make a delicious lunch or light meal. I love the colors and textures of this black rice shrimp salad from Sweet Sensitive Free (below left) and the salmon quinoa salad from A Sassy Spoon. And then there's the calamari salad with fennel and avocado based on a dish we had in Cyprus.
Need even more ideas? Others on the site include:
So whenever you next say 'sure, I'll bring a salad', or need something light but tasty for lunch, give one of these delicious salads a try. I know I'm going to be trying, or repeating, many of them over the summer.
Buddha in a Jar
These “Buddha in a Jar” meals from Delish will take a bit of prep work, but they are healthy, can be easily refrigerated ahead of time, and are ultra-portable. The jars contain chicken, brown rice, broccoli, carrots, onions, and avocado with a homemade soy sauce and sriracha marinade. Once your picnic is set up, this meal can be poured into a bowl or eaten straight from the jar!
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Designed to help you create a new business or grow your existing one, this course is personally led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin, and supported by more than a dozen of the top female entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors in the country. Students receive personalized coaching on everything from how to get out of your comfort zone to how to scale your business, and everything in between. And now, thanks to our founding sponsor Office Depot, even more of you can join the course!
When is the program?
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How much does it cost to enroll?
The enrollment price is $2,000, but for the summer session, we're thrilled to team up with Office Depot to grant 200 FREE scholarship seats to the course. Scholarships are open to US residents, focusing on women of color, women from underserved and underrepresented communities, and women in need of support to help them trail-blaze. After all, we firmly believe that your support system is a huge part of how you achieve greatness, and we are here to cheer all of you on.
To nominate yourself or someone you know for a scholarship, head to our application form right here. The deadline for scholarship applications is June 8 — it's time to take the leap!
Once scholarship recipients are chosen in June, prospective students will have 48 hours to accept their seats, so keep an eye on your inbox starting June 8! For those who don't receive a full-ride scholarship, you'll be eligible to receive a special discount and perks just for applying!
So what are you waiting for? Take a chance on yourself and get yourself one step closer to truly being selfmade. Learn more about the Selfmade program, apply for a scholarship and prepare to be inspired :)
Discover what valuable lessons these small business owners and entrepreneurs took away from the spring session of the Selfmade 10-week course at Selfmade Success Stories.
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Pack a Picnic with 11 Fresh and Delicious Recipes
Summer is just about here! Get ready to dine al fresco with these 11 yummy and portable recipes!
This play on a classic 7-layer dip is the perfect thing to nosh on during an outdoor summer concert. The dip features a base made with black beans and Bush&rsquos Southwest Black Bean Hummus Made Easy. Then sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce and jalapenos are piled high!
For a casual picnic, say for a beach day, try Curtis&rsquos sweet and salty burrito. Just roll up tortillas with peanut butter, bananas, jam and Greek yogurt for a yummy to-go treat.
This spicy, sweet chicken salad is guilt-free because it&rsquos made with Greek yogurt rather than mayo. With ginger, garlic and a mango chutney mixed in, it&rsquos bursting with light and fresh flavor.
Tip: If you want to make it even easier on yourself, just pack this chicken salad in individual portions and bring along forks &ndash no bread or assembly required!
For this fresh and delicious dip, Richard Blais uses items you might already have in your kitchen. He starts with Greek yogurt and adds lemon juice, capers and fresh dill and chives. Who wants a pre-made dip when you can serve something as fresh and tasty as this?
These portable snacks couldn&rsquot be easier to make. Just melt shredded cheddar and sage on a baking sheet, then let them cool!
For this tuna salad, Rach makes her own lemon-y aioli to use instead of regular mayo, and she includes tarragon, celery (including the tops), finely chopped shallot to give it a French vibe. Spread it on bread, and you&rsquove gotten an insanely tasty sandwich.
Tip: Rach really emphasizes that she prefers line-caught, sustainable tuna for environmental reasons.
For this dish, Graham shreds broccoli to make a salad base, then adds pomegranate seeds, shaved parmesan, slivered almonds and a honey-dijon dressing. Simple and super healthy.
Trisha makes these delicious bite-sized party pinwheels by first blending cream cheese, salsa and green onions. She slathers that on tortillas, adds cooked bacon and deli ham, then rolls up. She covers the rolls in plastic wrap and chills until they&rsquore very cold, then slices into little pinwheels!
This make-ahead salad is as healthy as you make it! Layer your favorite veggies, lettuce, quinoa, dressing and other ingredients in a mason jar, then just toss and eat when you are ready! Substitute the bacon and blue cheese with a lower calorie protein if you like!
This recipe came to us courtesy of Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell. Shay sweetens her muffins with maple syrup and adds raisins and walnuts for additional flavor and texture.
Grant&rsquos red velvet cookies feature everyone&rsquos favorite secret ingredient &ndash cream cheese! These beautiful treats would work for any occasion, but the festive combination of red and white make them perfect for your holiday cookie swap!
Watch Rach make her tuna salad with homemade mayo below:
Summer Fruit Salad with Matcha Ginger Vinaigrette
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries
Chocolate Pomegranate Granola Bites
Green Apple Fruit Leather
Cantaloupe Salad with Maple and Cinnamon [The Kitchen Is My Playground]
Citrus-Pomegranate Salad [Hello Natural]
Red, White and Blue Quinoa Salad [Well Plated]
Vegan Ambrosia Fruit Salad [Veganosity]
Vegan Apricot Cherry Energy Bars [Hello Natural]
No-Bake Raspberry Lemon Cookie Cups [Spoonful of Flavor]
About Dana Raidt
Dana Raidt is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor with a passion for music, a penchant for thrift-store shopping and a never-ending recipe repertoire.