When you do an internet search for vegan picnic foods, you’re inundated with loads of vegan recipes, which is wonderful! Except if you don’t have the time to buy ingredients ahead of time and whip up entire recipes in the kitchen. Sometimes you need to pack your picnic basket on the fly!
Here are some ideas for quick grab-and-go vegan picnic nibbles so you’ll never be empty-handed at summer movies in the park, lunches at the lake, or outdoor concerts. These items can be picked up at your local grocer or Whole Foods Market.
If your picnic is replacing lunch or dinner, make sure you’re getting all of your food groups in so you’re not lacking in nutrition. Remember to include whole grains, veggies, fruit and protein-packed foods.
In this day and age, finding vegan cheese and crackers is pretty easy! Whole Foods has an amazing selection of vegan cheeses and even mainstream grocery stores are starting to carry vegan cheese. Some favorites are Kite Hill artisan almond milk cheese which comes in original as well as truffle, dill and chive flavors. Spread this stuff on whole grain crackers for a fancy snack deserving of your nicest bottle of wine. Follow Your Heart makes an excellent provolone which is just the right texture and flavor to slice and use as cracker-toppers. And now for the master of all vegan artisan cheese, Miyoko’s Kitchen completely nails both soft and hard cheeses with their cashew-based creamery products. Flavors like Aged English Sharp Farmhouse and Double Cream Garlic Herb will ignite your taste buds and have your non-vegan friends saying “OK, I can do this.”
Fruit is nature’s gift to those of us with on-the-go lifestyles. Berries such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries that come in sturdy containers make great picnic snacks because they won’t go bad without refrigeration for a couple hours and won’t bruise easily like bananas and peaches. Cherries are in season and are another great picnic food. Other options that involve slightly more work are cubed or sliced melon like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon—but these do require refrigeration or a cooler with ice.
Cherry tomatoes are my favorite on-the-go veggie for picnics, road trips and even backpacking since they don’t require refrigeration and actually taste best at room temperature. You can also get away with not having to refrigerate baby cucumbers (whole, not sliced) and mini peppers. Other easy veggies include baby carrots, snap peas and pre-cut veggies like celery, broccoli and cauliflower–these guys will need to be on ice.
Did you know olives are becoming trendy? These notoriously fatty fruits should be consumed with portion control in mind since they tend to be high in sodium and fat. Olives are rich in monounsaturated fat, the type of fat found plentifully in the Mediterranean diet, and gives olive oil its heart-healthy reputation. Single serving pre-packaged olives are coming to the market and gaining popularity—pop one of these packs into your picnic basket to pair with your wine and cheese. You can also try sampling a variety of olives from the olive bar at your local Whole Foods or gourmet food shop! Note that these need to be in a cooler.
Nuts are another super simple snack food that most of us tend to keep lying around the house and office—add them to the picnic basket as well! A serving of almonds is a small palmful (note, not a handful)—about 23 almonds—and contains heart-healthy fat, protein and fiber. Walnuts, peanuts, pistachios and cashews are great options too. Individual packets of nut butter can be found at just about any grocer and can be enjoyed straight from the package or spread atop crackers or bread.
Most hummus requires refrigeration—but there are some shelf-stable varieties if you don’t have a cooler on hand and need your chickpea fix. Hummus offers fiber and protein and loads of yummy flavor—and makes a perfect dip for your crackers or veggies.
Sometimes fresh produce isn’t an option. When this is the case, choose the more nutritious pre-packaged options like dried fruit, fruit leather, fruit cups packed in water (not syrup), nuts, popcorn, whole grain bars, Snapea Crisps, soynuts, and vegan jerky.
Taylor Wolfram was inspired to write this post as she ran out on her lunch break to grab some vegan picnic items for an evening event in the park. What are some of your favorite grab-and-go picnic foods?