15 healthy picnic ideas to pack in your hamper this summer

From protein-rich crisps to alcohol alternatives, healthy picnic ideas don't need to be dull. Here are some of our tried and tested favourites

A selection of healthy picnic ideas, including seeds, rice cakes, and quinoa chips
(Image credit: Munchy Seeds / Kallo / Eat Real)

With the weather finally hotting up, having some healthy picnic ideas in your back pocket is a good idea. From nutrient-rich foods to sweat treats guaranteed to crack your craving, there are plenty of excellent options to buy or make at home.

But what should you pack in your hamper? Along with a pick of the best low-calorie alcoholic drinks in a can (or non-alcoholic drinks in a can, if you'd prefer), opting for lower calorie, nutrient-rich foods for your picnic can help you stay satiated. 

"Aim to include a source of protein and fats, rather than eating carbohydrate-rich snacks on their own, as protein and fats both keep you feeling full and satiated while helping to support a healthy blood glucose response and reducing spikes and crashes," says nutritionist Eli Brecher. "Fibre is another helpful component to include for satiety and stable blood sugar, as well as for optimal gut health. You can find fibre in vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds."

Healthy picnic ideas



What do you bring to a healthy picnic?

Making healthy picnic ideas from home is a simple way to cut calories and save on sugar and salt. Nutritionist Eli Brecher recommends easy go-tos you can keep in the fridge and pull out as needed. "Carrot sticks with homemade hummus is my go-to savoury snack," she tells us. "Hummus is surprisingly easy to make (as a blend of chickpeas, tahini, lemon and garlic) and packed with plant-based protein and fibre. Once you start making your own hummus, you will never look back. It is so delicious when homemade, with a perfectly creamy texture - plus you can control exactly what goes into it." 

For a healthy sweet treat, Brecher recommends making homemade chocolate protein balls. There are many benefits of protein powder and these protein snacks are "guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your energy high while being a good source of protein and fibre." 

On the days when the temperature rises, healthy picnic ideas can "incorporate water-rich foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, oranges, and strawberries," she says. "Not only do these foods provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they also boost your water intake during the summer months, which is particularly helpful as we lose water through sweating in warmer temperatures." 

Some ideas include: 

  • Homemade crudites and dip (e.g. carrot sticks, cucumber and hummus)
  • Falafel 
  • Greek salad
  • Chicken salad
  • Quinoa or tabbouleh salad
  • Hard-boiled egg with half an avocado
  • Low-fat potato salad
  • Coleslaw (made with low-fat mayonnaise) 
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Sandwiches made with pitta bread
  • Sandwiches made with wholemeal bread
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Homemade oat cookies 
  • Homemade flapjacks with raisins
  • Lemon drizzle cake

What can I bring to a picnic other than food?

You'll need something to drink at your picnic! For an alcohol-free cocktail, combine elderflower cordial, sparkling water, mint, and cucumber with plenty of ice. You can also buy excellent alternatives to alcohol online, with many offering additional health benefits or unique flavours. 

Alternatively, low-calorie cocktails and low-calorie beers are a good idea if you want to enjoy a tipple at your picnic. These tend to contain less sugar and fewer calories than standard alcoholic drinks. 

Grace Walsh
Health Channel Editor

Grace Walsh is woman&home's Health Channel Editor, working across the areas of fitness, nutrition, sleep, mental health, relationships, and sex. She is also a qualified fitness instructor. In 2024, she will be taking on her second marathon in Rome, cycling from Manchester to London (350km) for charity, and qualifying as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. 

A digital journalist with over six years experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace has covered (almost) everything in the world of health and wellbeing with bylines in Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more.