Less is more when it comes to outdoor picnics. Check out some of our favorite picnic ideas and recipes. 

Less is more when it comes to outdoor picnics. Check out some of our favorite picnic ideas and recipes. 


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Welcome back and thanks for checking out this week's menu plan! This week we're doing something a little different again and putting together some of our favorite picnic ideas! Don't worry, if you're looking for a full week's worth meals that minimize waste and utilize leftovers, we'll be back to our normal routine next time! With this beautiful weather though, I've got picnics on the brain and am here to share with you some of my favorite locations and food ideas. 

Meal Planning on Pinterest

Although this week is different and not a full week's worth of meals, I should remind you that my Pinterest Board: "This Week's Menu" will always have the latest recipes for a given week. Be sure to give it a follow for the latest and greatest and for easy access to the blogs where all of these fabulous recipes can be found! 

By pinning all of the recipes in one place for the week, I find it super easy to make my grocery list when I'm ready. I use Google Keep for my grocery list to have it accessible online and via my phone. It's so easy to add items, check off items and see your history. Another great feature is that you can easily share it so my husband can add items as well whenever he thinks of them! 

Favorite Picnic Ideas

The Boat

 Hands down my favorite picnic location. A sunset cruise on Lake Minnetonka with a dinner packed is about as close as you can get to Heaven on Earth. 

Hands down my favorite picnic location. A sunset cruise on Lake Minnetonka with a dinner packed is about as close as you can get to Heaven on Earth. 

If you ask me what my happy place is, it won't take me long to answer with "the lake". You would think growing up heading out on the lake most summer days would cause it to lose it's ability to stun but it truly never gets old. Every single time I get out there, I'm still in awe of it's beauty and thankful for the opportunity to spend a few quiet hours taking it all in. 

Date night on the lake

My favorite summer date idea is a simple sunset dinner cruise. To make it absolutely stress free, we'll often opt to pick up a pizza on our way to the docks or some sandwiches from Adele's in Excelsior. The best part of take-out from Adele's? You have to get frozen custard while you're there so that means dessert first! Can't let that melt while you scarf your dinner!  

 A quiet night on the lake is the perfect summer date. Check out some of our favorite food options for a picnic on the water. 

A quiet night on the lake is the perfect summer date. Check out some of our favorite food options for a picnic on the water. 

Now you may be thinking this fabulous date night idea is not feasible because you don't have a boat. Good news friends, you can rent one! Most major lakes have rental companies that you can do one-off rentals just for a day. Some marinas may also offer a boat club membership if you're wanting to get out more frequently! 

The Commons

For those of you familiar with the area, you know The Commons is the park on the water in downtown Excelsior. Complete with a ball diamond, band-shell (think concerts in the commons!), beaches, playgrounds and public grills, The Commons has it all. Kid-tested and family approved, this place is the perfect picnic locale. Not in the western suburbs? Good thing any park will do for a summer picnic, although I'm always partial to one with a good lake-front view. Pack a cooler and grill on the scene or load up a picnic basket with some of our favorite recipes listed below. 

 Kid tested and family approved, the Excelsior Commons is the perfect picnic locale. 

Kid tested and family approved, the Excelsior Commons is the perfect picnic locale. 

The Pier or Beach

While this one is particularly great on the coasts with the salty air blowing in off the ocean, you can still make it happen anywhere. Bring a blanket, a basket full of goodies and a bottle of wine and enjoy the sand between your toes. 

 A secluded section of beach makes for a most enjoyable picnic. 

A secluded section of beach makes for a most enjoyable picnic. 

Prefer to keep your food and the sand separate? Find a pier with picnic tables and have your meal up there. You still have the ocean and beach as your playground to go enjoy before and after your meal. 

 Not into sand in your food? A picnic on the pier is a great solution. 

Not into sand in your food? A picnic on the pier is a great solution. 

Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin

Rarely do I advocate for a trip to Wisconsin, but I have to admit, they do have some great scenery and camping up north. My sister and I did camped there and had a great time on a hike with a backpack of wine, cheese and crackers. It was the perfect accompaniment to the rivers, waterfalls and lakes.  

 Camping or a short hike with a backpack of goodies and wine can lead you to some pretty epic picnic locations. 

Camping or a short hike with a backpack of goodies and wine can lead you to some pretty epic picnic locations. 

Favorite Picnic Foods

For a hike, pack a backpack with: 

  1.  Bag of wine (keeping it classy and safe!) 
  2. Cheese
  3. Crackers
  4. Water

For a hands-off/stress-feel meal: 

  1. Pick up a pizza or
  2. Order your favorite take-out
  3. Don't forget your beverage of choice

For the economical, make-ahead classic picnic: 

  1. Sandwiches like these fabulous stacks from Berly's Kitchen.
 Meat, cheese and veggie goodness. The perfect sandwich is a classic picnic staple. Image from  Berly's Kitchen : written permission for use received. 

Meat, cheese and veggie goodness. The perfect sandwich is a classic picnic staple. Image from Berly's Kitchen: written permission for use received. 

2. A cool side-dish like this Italian Chickpea Salad from Iowa Girl Eats.

 Great cold, and easy to store and transport, this salad from Iowa Girl Eats is a perfect picnic side. Image from  Iowa Girl Eats : written permission for use received. 

Great cold, and easy to store and transport, this salad from Iowa Girl Eats is a perfect picnic side. Image from Iowa Girl Eats: written permission for use received. 

3. Hand-held desserts like these S'more Popcorn Bars from What's Gaby Cooking.

 Because s'mores and the outdoors are a match made in heaven. Image from  What's Gaby Cooking : written permission for use received. 

Because s'mores and the outdoors are a match made in heaven. Image from What's Gaby Cooking: written permission for use received. 


While I could go on and on about great outdoor dining options and yummy picnic-friendly foods, I think it's time for me to get outside and enjoy this weather! Comment below with your favorite picnic spots and food ideas. Cheers!

 No matter where you're stationed, we've got some great picnic locations ready for you to discover! 

No matter where you're stationed, we've got some great picnic locations ready for you to discover! 

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