What to pack for a picnic


If you're wondering what to pack for a picnic, this picnic checklist will have your back. Find out what to bring to a picnic, how to pack it plus get great picnic food ideas!

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What to pack for a picnic

The weather is warming, the sun is shining and there’s no better time to fully embrace gatherings in the great outdoors. With ample space for the kids to run amuck (away from any screens), the natural springtime flower show and great company, all that’s left to organise is the food!

Once you’ve spent all that time making an abundance of picnic recipes, you’ll want to make sure everything arrives in one piece, and you haven’t forgotten anything. The following picnic checklist has tips for the perfect picnic, including how to prepare your food, how to transport it and other important things to remember.

Note: Don’t forget to check your state’s rules on outdoor gatherings!

Essentials for the perfect picnic

Use this picnic checklist as a guide to make sure everything is prepped before you get going, and don't forget these food safety rules.

  • Keep food cold: Pop ice packs in the freezer the night before, so they’re fully frozen before they go into the cooler. Don’t forget to throw a bag of ice over the packed and sealed food containers, too. This is especially important in the Australian heat.
  • Pack raw meat with care: Keep any meats for barbequing in a sealed container, and place at the bottom of the cooler to ensure no raw juices will contaminate other foods.
  • Keep salads crisp: For leafy salads, keep the greens and dressings separate. Jars work great, and they can be given a good shake before dressing the salad. 
  • Pre-cut food: Wherever you can, portion and cut food before packing it away. Having everything ready to go is more convenient to eat and dish out, plus it means less handling of the food.
  • Utensils and napkins: Pack knives, cutlery, plates, cups and napkins or kitchen towels. 
  • Keep the creepy-crawlies away: Bring a gauze throw over, old table cloth or sheet to lay over the food once set out, to keep unwanted guests away. Bug spray is also a good idea for the family.
  • Sun protection: Sunscreen, hats, sunnies and other sun protection are essential, and choose a shady spot when you can.
  • Don’t forget water: Ensure you have plenty of drinking water, and extra for washing hands and cleaning up any messes. 
  • Picnic games: Some sports equipment, board games, a pack of cards or even just a few ideas for clever word games can transform a sunny afternoon.
  • Picnic blanket: Even if your picnic table gets nabbed, if you have a picnic blanket on hand you’ll be set to take on any grassy knoll or sandy beach.
  • Rubbish containers: Bringing containers to put all your rubbish in makes it easy to do the right thing. Take any rubbish away and leave your picnic area nice and tidy.
  • Leftovers: As a general rule, if food has travelled to the picnic and back in a cooler, it’s best to discard any leftovers on your return home in the interest of food safety.

Picnic recipes

A great picnic recipe should be easily portable, shareable and easy to eat. A balmy afternoon is always more enjoyable when the food ends up in your mouth, not on your lap.

The picnic ideas below are just right for picnics, or you can check out more picnic recipes here.

Get the recipe: Pink Jelly Cakes

These delightful pink jelly lamingtons are already cut into the perfect individual serves for a picnic, and they're totally photo-worthy for those picnic spread snaps.

Get the recipe: Mexican Chicken Empanadas

Equally appetising whether served warm or cold, these crispy empanadas are a great addition to your picnic menu, and that smoky relish dip is the perfect pairing.

Get the recipe: Chocolate Crackles

These crunchy little bites are so nostalgic! Pop one in each kids' hands for smiles all around, just make sure you have some left for the adults to take a trip down memory lane.

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Chocolate Crackles Made For Grown Ups