Tutto Bene’s Top Picnic Tips for Summer!

//Tutto Bene’s Top Picnic Tips for Summer!

Tutto Bene’s Top Picnic Tips for Summer!

The summer holidays are almost upon us and preparations are being made for family fun! Whether your holiday is at home or away, with the wider family or just with those loved ones you share your home with, food plays a big role in our day-to-day lives. Picnics and meals out, lunches at home or with friends… We parents can feel like we are always in the kitchen! We want to keep on top of the budget and be healthy, but it is tempting to just grab a pre-prepared option and be done with it. If we do this for six weeks though, we are likely to build habits in our children which can be hard to break. (Cue extra tantrums!)

So, if you are planning a summer picnic, here are Tutto Bene’s top tips:

picnicThink of the activity, rather than the food, being the treat: Focus on where you are going and what you are going to do there; getting to throw stones in the river or climbing a tree are treats to look forward to. Clearly, food is important – and there is fun to be had around food – but there will be fewer battles if the activity, rather than the food, is central. This also helps build good eating habits in your children for the future

Get your children involved in the food prep: Your child could choose the shapes the sandwiches are cut into, or which shape pasta you put into the pasta salad; give them the choice about which fruit and salad sticks to have. The younger the child, the smaller the choice needs to be, so a toddler could be given a choice between two options

Make the mealtime fun: Pack the lunch in fun containers or lots of little containers to add to the excitement of opening all the surprises! Why not cut the food into funny shapes (or just different ones if animal shapes are not your thing!) and lay it all out in an appealing way? The latter might not be practical for rainy-day picnics, but if this isn’t possible, try to get your child to help unpack the picnic and share it out

Get the balance right: If you are doing lots of picnics, try and have something slightly different each time: tuna one day and egg another, or grapes one day and apples another. This helps children stay interested in the food and gives them the wide variety of nutrients they need. For each picnic, include something from each of the following groups:

  • Vegetables (at least one handful per person – salad sticks, cherry tomatoes, raw mangetout or baby sweetcorn are easy to transport)
  • Fruit (at least one handful per person – apples, clementines, strawberries, cut grapes, blueberries or melon transport better than bananas and are less messy than soft fruit!)
  • Starchy Carbohydrates (e.g. wholegrain bread, wraps, pitta or pasta)
  • Proteins (beans, meat, fish, eggs, homous, nuts*)
  • Dairy (cheese, milk or yoghurt, but just watch out for the added sugar in the latter)

Keep hydrated: Make sure you take – and drink – plenty of water. The British Dietetic Association recommends that four to eight-year-olds have 1,280ml a day, but on hot days they need even more. Dehydrated children are more lethargic (so you are more likely to have to carry them to the car!), more irritable, more likely to have toilet accidents and can get headaches – not to mention that it is not good for them to dehydrate

Take snacks for the day: If you are out for a while, you may need two snacks. Tutto Bene’s Mini Grissini on their own or dipped in homous are a fun picnic option for one snack; take fruit, vegetable sticks or nuts for the other snack. If you are having homous to dip your Mini Grissini or veg sticks in, try the recipe on Tutto Bene’s website. Let your children watch you make it; it’s fascinating for them to see the chickpeas turn into paste!

The sweet stuff: You may have noticed that there is no mention of cake, biscuits or chocolate… A good picnic does not need these things to be yummy and, if we want to help our children aged four to six keep within their 19g a day ‘free sugar’ recommendation, having something sweet in their lunch means they won’t have space for an ice cream later, or something sweet after their tea

The practical bit: Don’t forget to take the wet wipes, the antibacterial gel and the picnic mat; also, depending on the weather, the sunhats and sun cream or the coats and wellies (or, like a true Brit, all of the above!)

Happy holidays!

*Avoid whole nuts for children under five, due to the choking risk