How to Prep and Pack for a Family Bike Picnic
Make Dinner an Adventure by Biking to Your Favorite Picnic Spot
We love going on picnics as a family. But this year, we decided to take it a step further and really make it into a fun outing by taking a bike ride to our picnic destination. And it’s become one of our favorite warm-weather outings.
We learned a few tips along the way that made it easier and more enjoyable; in case you’re thinking about packing up the family and food for your own picnic (I hope that you do!), here are some things that you may want to consider.
When to go
DO decide what you are looking for – a perfectly planned picnic with a day or two of prep, or a quick peanut butter & jelly sandwich and some fresh fruit before heading out. Both are great!
DON’T plan to go during the hottest hours of the day for two reasons: food spoilage and the whiny kid factor. I know you parents will thank me for this one.
DON’T forget to check the weather.
Where to go
DO pick a ride that’s suitable for your crew. Do you wish to take a long ride, or is the bike part just an appetizer for the main meal? Do you have younger riders, or experienced kids who can go the distance? Take all of these factors into consideration when making your decision.
DO pick a place that has public restrooms. Another one that I’m pretty sure you all will thank me for. Plus, restrooms are a handy place to rinse off your food storage containers before heading home.
What to pack
DO pack food in completely sealed containers. We like plastic containers that are completely leak-proof and ensure no unwanted liquids in your cooler.
DO bring finger foods that are easy to pick up and eat. But in the case that not everything is finger-friendly, DON’T forget to bring some reusable (or disposable) utensils.
DON’T bring food that needs to stay frozen or super cold. Or foods that could be squishy upon arrival.
DO freeze your water bottles before packing them. They can serve as ice packs to keep the food cold, and also be refreshing drinks upon arrival.
DON’T over pack. One of the best things about a picnic is that you enjoy the food while there, but don’t bring home a lot of leftovers.
DON’T forget the napkins. Bring extras in case of spills, or to wipe off/out utensils or containers if need be.
DO pack the baby wipes. These are incredible handy for messy hands, plates, etc.
DO pack the insect repellant if you are prone to pesky critters.
DO pack the sunscreen or apply before heading out the door. A sunburn post picnic can definitely put a negative spin on the outing for another time.
DON’T forget to pack a tablecloth if there will be picnic tables, or a blanket if you’ll be seated in the grass. We're fans of covering up what other people leave behind on public picnic tables.
What to pack it in
DO think of your options with regards to riding. While a picnic basket is very picturesque, it’s not necessarily the most bike-friendly unless you have a rear rack that you could strap your basket onto.
DO consider backpacks for worry-free picnic transport. Just make sure to pack the heavier items on the bottom to avoid squished food.
DON’T hesitate to use multiple backpacks. I packed some of the heavier items in my backpack, but loaded up my kids’ packs with the utensils, a serving spoon, etc.
As some added inspiration, here is a sneak peek at a recipe from my 2nd book (coming soon!) that would make a great addition to your food lineup for your bike picnic:
CINNAMON-RAISIN QUICK BREAD
Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Bake Time: Less than 1 hour
Makes 1 loaf
Special tools needed: 5 x 9-inch loaf pan
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
11⁄2 cups whole-wheat flour
11⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1⁄3 cup pure maple syrup
3⁄4 cup raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a loaf pan with butter and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Using a fork, mix in the eggs, applesauce, melted butter, and syrup until well combined, taking care not to overmix. Gently fold in the raisins.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
Slice the bread with a serrated bread knife. For a perfect picnic addition, add cream cheese and cut into bite-size sandwiches!
Lisa Leake is a New York Times bestselling author and blogger of 100 Days of Real Food.