How to Pack the Perfect Picnic Basket


Warmer weather is here and that means there’s no better time to take advantage of the outdoors by going on a picnic! If you’re scratching your head wondering how to throw together the perfect picnic, or what to bring in your picnic basket, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our top tips for packing the perfect picnic.

To start, you’ll need a good picnic basket; use any that you have around the house. Coolers or insulated reusable bags also work great for this if you don’t want to splurge on a fancy picnic basket.

Plan Out Your Picnic Menu

Deciding what you want to bring is a good first step. Since you will be outdoors, make sure to pack food that travels well, and won’t melt or spoil in the sun. Bringing a mix of snack items, main dishes, and desserts will ensure that everyone stays full and happy throughout the day. Pro tip: Don’t forget to account for any food allergies or preferences. It’s always good to plan some vegetarian options; they can be cheaper and healthy!

For our picnic, we packed:

  • Cheese and Crackers; a classic appetizer! Choose hard cheeses that won’t soften in the heat
  • Pasta salad; a great budget-friendly, vegetarian option that can feed many
  • Mixed berries; no matter what kind of fruit you like, it makes a refreshing picnic side
  • Lemon bars; remember to avoid chocolatey desserts prone melt in the sun
  • Beverages; chilled soda and wine will please everyone, and water bottles are key to staying hydrated

Now that you’ve secured a picnic basket and assembled your menu, it’s time to start packing up your picnic:


1. Include Frozen Water Bottles As Ice Packs

When packing your picnic basket, a great trick is to use frozen water bottles in lieu of ice packs. Not only will the frozen water bottles keep your food cool, but you’ll be able to drink them as they melt! Now that’s refreshing.


2. Pack Your Basket Strategically

Thinking strategically about how to pack your food and picnic accessories can make all the difference when you get to your location. It’s always a good idea to put heavier items at the bottom of your picnic basket, and don’t forget to put the things you want to keep cold next to the frozen water bottles. Lighter items like desserts, fruit, chips, and so on should go on top so they don’t get crushed.


3. Don’t Forget the Wine!

If your perfect picnic includes wine, think ahead to bring a wine opener and wine glasses.


4. Pack Picnic Essential Items on Top

It’s always a good idea to pack essentials like your picnic blanket on top so you can access them easily when you’re setting up your picnic. Don’t forget other key items, like:

  • A blanket and/or tablecloth
  • Reusable plates
  • Napkins
  • Utensils for eating and serving
  • A lightweight, portable Bluetooth speaker for music
  • A trash bag for easy clean-up (don’t forget to recycle bottles and cans!)

So there you have it: simple and easy tips and ideas for packing the perfect picnic basket. If you want to get fancy and grill on your picnic, be sure to check out our tips for a budget-friendly barbecue. And for great deals on outdoor and picnic essentials be sure to check out

Have you ventured out on a picnic this season? Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite tips and tricks below!

Author: Emily

Emily is a recent UVA grad trying to find her way in this thing they call the “real world”. When she’s not learning about 401(k) plans or budgeting for her next online shopping spree, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen or scouring the district for the best cup of coffee.