There are so many great reasons to have a picnic this summer. It’s romantic for couples, fun for kids, and a relaxing way to spend an afternoon with friends. You can picnic right here in a city park or head out into the country. Try planning a scenic hike that ends a picnic by the lake - it’s as close to perfect as you can get on a summer’s afternoon. (And completely Instagram-worthy, if you’re into that.)
All you need is a picnic blanket, some forks and napkins, and a small cooler bag or backpack to carry your food. Wondering what to fill your picnic basket with? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our shopping list for a perfect lunch in the sun - now relax and enjoy!
Meal in a Jar
Wait, whaaaat? We’re recommending Meal in a Jar again, on the Meal in a Jar blog? YES, of course, not only because that’s what we do, but because it’s the ideal centre of your picnic lunch! Choose a jar for each person (The Backyard BBQ and Balsamic Chicken Coleslaw jars scream summer, and the Lively Lemon Ginger is delightful on a hot day). Load up your cooler bag with your personal favourites, and build your picnic meal from there.
A nice, fresh baguette is a picnic classic. You can tear pieces off with your hands and enjoy it completely plain, or spread some butter or preserves on top. They’re great with some quality Canadian cheese - speaking of which...
Some fine cheese
If you eat dairy, cheese should definitely be a part of your summer picnic. Avoid messy, crumbly blue cheeses that will leave your backpack smelling like your lunch for weeks on end. A wedge of brie or herbed gouda will travel well in a cooler bag, and hard cheeses are always a hit. Try an aged white cheddar or smoked cheese from the farmer’s market.
You can’t have a picnic without some fresh summer fruit. Apples travel well, but take things up a notch by bringing ripe pears, red grapes or some delicious local berries. If you’re planning a family picnic, watermelon is always a hit with children!
Your picnic dessert can be anything from chocolate chip cookies to a slice of homestyle pie (apple and strawberry-rhubarb are great summer classics). Or, simply bring a small container of whipped cream and use it to top some of that fresh fruit!
Wine or sparkling water
If you’re hiking, you’ll need plenty of fresh water (bring a refillable bottle, and make sure to add ice). A slice of lemon or other citrus will add flavour while keeping you hydrated, but your picnic needs more. Bring a small bottle of wine, or even some cans of prosecco or rose - they’re better than you’d expect! If you don’t want to include alcohol, San Pellegrino makes great flavoured sparkling water beverages (we like the Blood Orange a lot). Now away you go...cheers to a great summer picnic!
Summer is a great time to head to the cottage, take a weekend trip away or simply enjoy the sunshine from your own backyard. While most of us are still grinding away at our jobs from Monday to Friday, it’s important to take time for fun and relaxation. Concerts are a great way to unwind and create memories with your friends - and what better way to spend a weekend than at a music festival? Here are some of our best picks for the rest of the summer, plus tips for eating well while you’re there.
VELD (Toronto, August 5 - 6)
This electronic dance music festival is being headlined by Future, Major Laser, Tiesto and Zedd. The lineup features additional performers such as Migos and Pleasurekraft (see the full list here). Held in Downsview Park, you can’t bring glass on the field - but if you’re driving there, bring a cooler bag of healthy snacks, drinks and your favourite Meal in a Jar selection to fuel up on before you enter the park. It’s better (and less expensive) than relying on greasy burgers and fries to keep your energy up all day. Just leave the cooler in the car and carry only the essentials - nobody wants to be weighed down while they’re dancing.
WAYHOME (Oro-Mendonte, July 28 - 30)
Held in beautiful cottage country and offering camping options, Wayhome has a huge lineup that includes Imagine Dragons, Frank Ocean, Cage the Elephant, Vance Joy, The Shins, Tegan and Sara, Foster the People, Dashboard Confessional, Death From Above 1979 and Solange. (For even more, check out the full lineup here.) It’s three days of music, sunshine and good times - so keep on feeling good by bringing a full stock of Meal in a Jar options to your hotel or RV site. Don’t feel like garbage by day three - take care of yourself and enjoy an amazing weekend of music!
Boots & Hearts (Oro-Mendonte, August 10 - 13)
Also held in Oro-Mendonte, Boots & Hearts is for the country music lovers out there and always has a big name headliner or two. This year, the big acts are Keith Urban and Luke Bryan, plus many more. There are hotel packages available as well as camping and RV options. Save money and feel better by bringing your favourite Meal in a Jar picks for lunch and dinner. They’ll keep well in a cooler with ice, and make a refreshing treat. Pack a Taco Tuesday, a Lively Lemon Ginger and a Veggie Showdown, and you’ll make the rest of the festival jealous!
Riverfest (Elora, August 18 - 20)
Not far from our hometown of Kitchener, Riverfest is held in scenic Elora and features performers including MGMT, Mother Mother, K.Flay, Neon Dreams, Hollerado and many more. Nineties kids will love that DJ Jazzy Jeff is making an appearance, and you’ll love eating a Backyard BBQ or Balsamic Chicken Coleslaw jar while listening to the sweet sounds of Hannah Georgas. Have fun!
Where have you taken Meal in a Jar this summer? Tell us in the comments!
If you’re taking your Meal in a Jar on the go, you’ve got to have an awesome lunch bag. Sure, you can toss the jar in your backpack or purse if it won’t be there for long, but what if you need to keep it cool for a while? Most offices have a fridge, but we know that our jars travel well beyond your workplace. Are you taking it on the road? To work off-site or outdoors? To your kids’ soccer tournament or dance competition? We hear you - you need a functional, attractive cooler bag that will keep your food fresh. Here are a few of our favourites - tell us yours in the comments!
We love this bag because it’s fully lined with freezable gel - it’s basically a flexible ice pack that surrounds your food and keeps it cool. It’s big enough to hold your Meal in a Jar plus a few snacks for the day, and once it’s empty, it folds up to the size of a small paperback book. Order online, or find one at Canadian Tire, Bed Bath and Beyond, Indigo and other stores for around $25.
These are study, uncomplicated lunch bags that keep your food cold and won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. They aren’t fancy, but they work well and will keep your Meal in a Jar fresh for hours. They’re also widely available - try Kitchen Stuff Plus or other retailers.
This small, brightly patterned lunch bag has a handle for easy transport and is great at keeping your jar cool all day. It folds flat when not in use, and is quite durable. If you need something bigger, try the Around the Clock thermal - it’s got enough room for a few Meal in a Jars, plus your water bottle and as many snacks as you want.
The best thing about this bag is that it’s cute AND machine washable. This large version will hold plenty of food, and it comes with a shoulder strap for easy carrying. Your Veggie Showdown, Beef Teriyaki or Lively Lemon Ginger jar can travel in style!
Your lunch bag is an important part of a great lunch, but don’t forget to stay hydrated...we love the S’Well water bottle because it keeps your beverage hot or cold all day, doesn’t sweat and is visually appealing. That said, a large Contigo water bottle from Costco is a great standby - fill it with ice water and lemon slices, and enjoy all day. Now you’re all set - cheers to a fresh, cool Meal in a Jar wherever you may be!