Whether you are booking vacation activities or planning day trips to the park, you can save quite a bit by bringing along your own snacks and meals, rather than buying food while you are out. Along with cutting costs, bringing along a picnic lunch is also a great way to enjoy the outdoors! Here are some tips for making and bringing take-along lunches perfect to accompany any kind of summer fun.
1. Use an insulated tote and bottles
Depending on where you're going, be sure that anything you need to keep cold can stay cold. Lots of times, you can find great insulated bags or backpacks, perfect for keeping cold temperatures a little while longer. You might also think about adding a cold pack to an insulated tote, just to keep things a little colder longer. You'll be glad to have that insulated tote when your goodies stay nice and cold on hot summer days!
2. Think small, reusable containers
Again, depending on where you go, you might not have access to a nearby trashcan. Rather than bringing along big bottles of soda with cups or large bags of chips, why not pack snacks and drinks in small reusable containers that you can bring back home with you when you are finished? There are such a variety of small, reusable bags and containers available, and you can have them ready to use for every summer day trip. Plus you cut down on trash and waste!
3. Handheld foods are easier
If you'd rather take snacks that you can throw away when you are finished, handheld snacks are easier than large ones. Think small bags of chips, crackers, orange slices, apples, or grapes. Even small granola bars are easy to carry, take-along items. Sandwich halves are also great take along meals, too. Not only are smaller snacks easier to eat, they take up much less room in your bag, and they are easier to pack too.
4. Know the rules before you go
If you are taking a day trip to a museum or an indoor exhibit, make sure you know the food and drink rules before you go. Some establishments don't want you to carry food and drinks inside, but they have great picnic areas available for outdoor dining and picnics. And some have special areas of the building designated for eating and drinking. Wherever your plan for the day might be, just be sure to check the rules for where you can picnic before you pack your snacks.
5. Less mess is best
Think about potential food messes as you are choosing the best options for your take-along meal. For example, water could be perfect as to-go drinks, to avoid sticky messes and stained shirts. And grapes, pretzels, or blueberries as snacks are less messy and sticky than something like cupcakes or peaches.
6. Don't forget cleanup!
As you are packing, don't forget to also include baby wipes or napkins for cleanup, in case there is no sink nearby. If you do happen to pack sticky or messy treats, you'll want to be able to wipe off your hands after you eat.
Packing picnic lunches and take-along treats doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, it can save you time, and it's often healthier too! Just take a look at these tips, and others at The Dollar Stretcher, for ways to make your take-along meal perfect for a fun summer day!