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Best Picnic Basket Ideas and Essentials

Best Picnic Basket Ideas and Essentials

If your idea of the “great outdoors” involves watching nature documentaries from the comfort of your couch, we get it. Maybe you aren’t big on traditional outdoor activities, but that  doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being outside. Pack up some snacks, find a shady spot, and have a picnic to soak up the sun and fresh air. We’re here to take your picnic from “elementary school field day” to a feast worthy of its own Pinterest board. With a variety of food themes, list of basket necessities and a roundup of our favorite local picnic spots, we’ve got your next outdoor food experience covered.

Basket Themes


For a tasty experience that explodes with flavor, try a chimichurri potato salad paired with grilled honey mustard chicken skewers and pickled green beans. The kick of chili spice that accompanies the potato salad is nicely balanced by the acidity from the pickled green beans. To quench your thirst and settle your taste buds after eating this meal, pack some of your favorite bubbly water.

Grilled Mustard Chicken Skewers  |  Overnight Pickled Green Beans  |  Chimichurri Potato Salad

Indian Food

Want to take a less traditional route for your picnic? Try out these staple Indian dishes. Samosas are an appetizer dish that wraps flakey pastry dough around seasoned vegetables and meat. Can you say yum? It’s comparable to a spring roll but uses a thinner dough. Pair this with your favorite curry or try the curried carrot and cauliflower dish below. Wash it all down with your lager of choice to further enhance the flavors.

Samosa  |  Curry  |  Curried Cauliflower and Carrots


If you’re really good at sharing and can stomach the possibility of double dipping, these three diverse dips should make the cut for your next picnic outing. With respect to both crackers and chips alike, these three recipes provide a dip for everyone’s preferences.  It has a smoky tomatillo salsa for those who favor tortilla chips, white bean dip for the pita chip fans, and a Neiman Marcus dip for those who prefer crackers. To counter the saltiness of these dips, include a light white wine that’s a little on the sweeter side.

Smoked Tomatillo Salsa  | White Bean Dip  | Neiman Marcus Dip


Why wait until the end of the meal for dessert when your entire picnic can be sweets only? To save your sundress or new flannel from being stained with icing, we’ve compiled mason jar recipes that are mess-free and travel well. With varying recipes like carrot cake, key lime pie and s’mores, these recipes are sure to excite everyone’s taste buds. Continue the recyclable container trend and pack a glass bottle of milk!

Carrot Cake Cupcake Jars  | Smores in a Jar  | Key Lime Pie Jar


Not sure what to bring to impress your significant other for a date night? After making sure they’re not lactose intolerant, whip up your favorite cheese in fondue form, your favorite bread, and quickly pan sear some steak bites to dip. Pair these salty combos with stuffed figs and you are set. For a summer picnic, bring a fruity sangria.

Pro tip: you can purchase a small crockpot perfect for keeping fondue warm while traveling to your destination. For best results, pick a picnic spot close to your home.

Cheese Fondue  | Steak Bites  | Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Figs

All American

Keep it simple and tasty with an American themed basket. Pull apart cheeseburger sliders, homemade kettle chips and a traditional house salad make this a filling dinner that’s easy to dish out. Customize this meal by seasoning the chips your way and choosing your favorite dressing for the salad. Pair this with a bottle of your favorite domestic beer and call it yankee doodle!

Cheeseburger Slider  | Potato Chips  | Chopped Salad

Basket Necessities

  • Cozy blanket
  • Reusable Utensils
  • Reusable plates
  • Tupperware
  • Napkins
  • Cooling packs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wet wipes
  • Bottle opener
  • Reusable cups
  • Portable speaker
  • Bug spray

Best Picnic Locations in Columbia

  • Stephens Lake
  • Mizzou Columns
  • Shelter Gardens
  • Pinnacles
  • Finger Lakes Park
  • Capen Park
  • Big tree
  • Peace Park

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