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Pack it Up and Go “Out” to Eat – Ideas for Picnic Meals

Thanks so much to Stanley Brand for sponsoring today’s post and helping inspire all of us to get out, eat out, and play on!

I feel like I am becoming pretty proficient at packing meals on the go. I refuse to fall into too many pre-packaged options, but since we spend a lot of time traveling or playing during meal time, healthy options have to also be able to be eaten out of a bag or cooler. To be honest, I kind of prefer meals out in the fresh air as long as the wind isn’t too strong and the bugs aren’t too fierce. The mess is made and cleaned up before we even get to meal time, there is no sweeping or mopping to be done afterwards and it’s easy to pack extras for a healthy snack later or to bring home for the next meal.

Right now, the traffic in Yellowstone is incredible. Since we don’t know if it will take us literally 3+ hours to go 80 miles, we go prepared every time we head into the Park (mostly when we are showing family around). Otherwise we wait until the fall to see the Park in all its glory.

Pack it Up and Go "Out" to Eat - Ideas for Picnic Meals

Pack it Up and Go "Out" to Eat - Ideas for Picnic Meals

Here’s a quick list of items we bring when we know we will be eating outside, while traveling:

  • Cooler with warm items (if we have them) and cooler with cold items
  • Old tablecloth (those nylon ones you can get for a couple dollars are awesome for a quick clean up and cheap replacement if needed) – sometimes the tables can be covered in bird droppings or other “non-appetizing treats”.
  • A small pot and/or stove to heat up warm drinks (it gets cold when the sun goes down year-round in the mountains)
  • Reusable or paper plates, honestly depending on how big our group is. Sometimes it’s just easier to go with the disposable route once in a while.
  • Sporks for serving if needed
  • Variety of foods to offer plenty of healthy options to suit everyone

Pack it Up and Go "Out" to Eat - Ideas for Picnic Meals

And here’s a list of our favorite go-to picnicking items. You’ll notice that the perk of “car-eating-out” is you can go as fancy as you want, really, since you aren’t limited by space. You can go MUCH fancier than us:

  • BLT sandwiches (a great way to use up that leftover bacon from breakfast and get some veggies in)
  • PB & J for everyone else
  • String Cheese
  • Cut up carrots and cucumber
  • Hummus
  • Cut up apples (or whole if that is what your family prefers)
  • PB mixed with a little cinnamon and some raisins for an apple dip
  • Nuts
  • Pretzels (salt replacement on those hot days)
  • Hot chocolate powder, tea or instant coffee
  • Homemade healthy cookies or granola bars


We are loving the fact that our Stanley Adventure Cooler doubles as a seat.

Pack it Up and Go "Out" to Eat - Ideas for Picnic MealsI’m also in love with the idea of the Stanley Vacuum Crock (keeps food warm for 30 hours) for stew or sloppy joes or tacos or whatever else you can pack in. While I haven’t personally tried it, it will be my next REI purchase. Finally, the Adventure Camp Cookset is a great way to make hot chocolate, chai or oatmeal for two without taking up much space. Plus, it hooks right on top of the Adventure cooler – which makes hauling it to that perfect spot so much easier.

Pack it Up and Go "Out" to Eat - Ideas for Picnic Meals

Pack it Up and Go "Out" to Eat - Ideas for Picnic Meals

Even if the views weren’t this amazing, we’d still picnic….



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pack it up and go out to eat: Ideas for picnic meals


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  • Amelia lives with her husband and five young children outside of Jackson, WY in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom, she quickly learned that the secret to sanity was to spend more time outside where tantrums don't see quite so bad. Amelia started TMM in 2012 to help encourage all families (including her own) to get outside, no matter the weather. Due to the necessity of having to keep so many kids warm and happy, she has become an expert in kids' gear and loves being able to share it with others.


Saturday 25th of July 2015

A go to of ours is a giant green..smoothie! I put it in our Stanley thermos to keep cold. I whip it up quickly when we are having long summer days outside!


Sunday 26th of July 2015

Oh that's a GREAT idea!!!

Jess Harvey

Thursday 16th of July 2015

A friend gave me a quick recipe for chicken nuggets: dredge chicken pieces in any kind of liquid (oil, milk, Italian dressing), then dip in bread crumbs and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. This meal travels surprisingly well and can even be frozen and heated up later. I've used it for a picnic twice this summer.


Friday 17th of July 2015

Oh that's a great idea!!! Trying next time! :)