Family picnic hacks for the garden & beach this summer

By Karla Gilbert

Karla is an accredited Nutrition and Health Coach. As a mum of two girls, she has a few ideas for making family picnics more fun!  

Encouraging children to play outdoors can often feel like an uphill battle when competing against allures such as television and technology. Adding to this, when outside offers the same old surroundings, children are less excited or inclined to want to go outside.

A great way to overcome this obstacle is to plan a family picnic! Picnics are a great excuse to enjoy fresh air, nature, and new experiences. They provide a distraction-free environment for us to engage with our children and view the world through their eyes.

Perhaps there is an unusual leaf, insect, or rock – what can we take home and create artwork with? There are so many opportunities to connect with our children with a positive environment, also making it the perfect platform for promoting healthy eating habits.

With this in mind, what are some simple ideas we can use to tailor a family-friendly picnic that will complement our time spent with family?


The best garden and beach picnic hacks

Try new things outside

You will be surprised by the effect the great outdoors has on children’s food choices.  Quite often, once the usual environment we are eating in is taken away, children are usually more open to trying new foods.  Use this opportunity to your advantage! Start out with a store-bought or homemade hummus with chopped up vegetables, breadsticks, or crackers.


Pasta Salads

Pasta salads are convenient and perfect for picnics. Make a dish that is packed full of veggies – chopped frozen vegetables are perfect and cook quite quickly.  Throw in some cubes of cheese to give a meal some dairy and chopped ham, chicken or canned tuna for protein and texture. For a child-friendly dressing use some olive oil, honey, lemon juice and dried herbs to add just a small bit of flavour to an otherwise plain pasta.


Sushi sandwiches

Put a twist of novelty into sandwiches and create pinwheel sandwiches.  By using square wholemeal wraps, fill them with ingredients such as ham, grated cheese, carrots, cucumber and cream cheese or tuna and mayo.



Grab and go type foods are great while children are enjoying nature.  Throw the idea of sitting down to eat out the window for the day and allow children to explore and eat. Learnt positive experiences relate to what, when, who, and how; so if your children are enjoying a new food whilst feeling happy in their surroundings, more than likely it will be a winner! Watermelon slices, melon, berries, bananas, the options are endless!


Homemade scrolls or oat slices

Involve your children in the process of making some scrolls or oat/muesli slices the morning before you head out, such as these delicious Vegemite and Cheese Scrolls. 


  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 cup white self-raising flour
  • 90-gram butter
  • 1 ½ cup grated cheese
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegemite
  • Milk to brush edges

How to make

  1. Preheat your oven to 210 degrees and line an oven tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift flours in a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  3. Slowly add the milk and use a butter knife to combine. Turn out the dough and knead until it forms 2 x smooth balls.
  4. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until you have 2 x (30 x 40cm) rectangles.
  5. Spread the vegemite over the dough, leaving a 2cm gap around the edges.
  6. Brush one long edge with a little bit of milk.
  7. Scatter approximately 3/4 of the cheese over the vegemite.
  8. Starting at the long side (without milk) carefully roll the dough until enclosed.
  9. Cut into 6 slices – approximately 2cm thick.
  10. Place on a baking tray (so they are slightly butting together) and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
  11. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked through.


See you outside this summer!