There’s nothing like appreciating good food with friends and family while spending time in the great outdoors. When you’re planning for a summer day trip picnic or multi-day camping excursion, activity equipment like frisbees and floaties may be at the top of your packing list, but every activity is guaranteed to make sure you work up an appetite.
From light snacks to full meals, with a little preparation you can simplify packing up your picnic, then sit back and start snacking as soon as you’ve reached your picnic spot. Check out these ‘Pack Lean, Leave Clean’ snacks and meals ideas to make sure your picnic crew and the environment are satisfied.
One of the best things about burritos (other than how they taste!) is that all the ingredients can be cooked well in advance and assembled before you set out, making these handhelds ideal meals for sunny picnics, camping adventures or a day of hiking the trails. Simply prepare your cooked filling ingredients like rice, beans, and meat a night or two before you leave and assemble with any extra sides you like such as cheese, hot sauce or salsa.
Pack Lean Tip! The plastic bag that holds your burrito wraps can be added to your flexible plastic recycling for a trip to the depot.
Pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, and grapes–if you can slide it onto a stick, it can be on your fruit skewers. Prepare cut fruit in advance and use reusable skewers to minimize single-use products. To give this snack more substance, bring along yogurt for dipping on the side.
Leave Clean Tip! Pack yogurt into a reusable container, or if you bring single serving yogurts, the empty packages can be gathered for rinsing and recycling at home. The plastic seal on yogurt can be added to your flexible plastic for a depot drop.
Zesty Bean Avocado Salad
Refreshing and filling, there are tons of different ways to make a citrusy bean and avocado salad, and an added bonus is that leftovers can go directly in the compost. Garbanzo or black beans add protein along with chopped avocado, and your favourite salad veggies like corn or tomato. Add a generous squeeze of lemon or lime, herbs, and your seasonings of choice. Prepare it all at home, and pack in a large reusable container.
Pack Lean Tip! Bring reusable plastic plates, bowls and cutlery which are lightweight and easy to clean to serve the salad on.
What better weather for outdoor dining than a bright sunny summer day, and an additional perk is being able to brew up Sun Tea with the heat. Tea, water, sun and time are all you need for this recipe. Remember to pack an extra gallon of water for the tea, and either pop in a handful of tea bags or a few spoonfuls of loose leaf tea and leave the jar in a sunny spot to steep while you enjoy the outdoors. For an extra refreshing touch, slice some lemons and add them to your cup.
A ‘No Cook’ crowd favourite, assemble your sandwiches in advance, pack them in
zippered sandwich bags or plastic wrap and dropped into your cooler. There’s no single way to make a sandwich, so get everyone’s order in before you start (or better yet, invite each picnicker to prepare their own if possible!) To avoid soggy sandwiches, leave out ingredients with a high water content like tomatoes and pack them separately in a container or zippered bag that can be recycled. Add these ingredients to your sandwiches right before consuming.
Leave Clean Tip! Zippered sandwich bags and plastic wrap are flexible plastics that can be recycled, so pack them up for drop off at the depot.
Cheese please! A charcuterie board is ideal for meal breaks on sunny hikes, or picnics in the park. Graze on a selection of your favourite cheeses, crackers and deli meats, and add nibbles like pickles, olives, nuts or preserves–there’s no wrong options when it comes to a charcuterie board. If you’re bringing a baguette, pre-slice the loaf and pop it back in the paper bag and leave the bread knife at home. Make sure to stuff any recyclable packaging into your backpack or cooler for dropping off at a depot on your way home (and make sure to collect and dispose of any garbage too.)
Leave Clean Tip! Flexible packaging with a plastic seal (like deli meats and cheese slices), plastic safety seals on bottles and jars of jams and condiments, and crinkle wrappers for bricks of cheese are all recyclable at the depot.
Veggies and Dip
Vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers and cucumber can be sliced and stored in a reusable container for a healthy, no-fuss snack. For extra simplicity, vegetables like snap peas and cherry tomatoes don’t even need to be chopped! If you’re handy in the kitchen and have a food processor, you can easily make your own dip as well.
Pack Lean Tip! If you’re buying dip in bulk, transfer the amount of dip you’ll want to a reusable container so you’re not stuck carting a gallon of dip to the picnic spot and back.
Homemade “Instant” Noodle Jars
You’ve likely seen some version of these photogenic homemade glass jar ‘instant’ noodles on social media, and they are as delicious as they look. A warm option for cooler outdoor picnicking, these homemade soups are easily assembled at home. Add a bouillon cube and any seasoning or hot sauce to the jar along with fresh veggies and your protein of choice (cooked or dried), then layer vermicelli noodles on top and garnish with sprouts, green onions or cilantro. Bring hot water in a thermos and pour into each jar when you’re ready to eat, stirring and leaving for a few minutes for the noodles and veggies to cook. It’ll not only taste fresh, but you’ll have less packaging to dispose of than a traditional instant soup.
Pack Lean Tip! Instead of using new jars for your instant soup, grab a clean glass jar from your recycling pile.
This one is essential! Each picnicker in your group will need enough water to stay hydrated, which is especially important for campers or backpackers who may not be set up near amenities. Triple check before you load up the car or set off on the trail that you have enough water for cooking, cleaning and drinking.
Pack Lean Tip! To minimize the amount of single-use plastic at your picnic, bring one large jug of water with reusable cups and water bottles instead of a flat of plastic water bottles.
Drop off your flexible plastics together–no sorting necessary
There are over 200 depot locations around BC, including London Drugs stores, where you can drop off your plastic, metal, glass packaging and paper for recycling–and guess what? No more sorting flexible plastics. Plan a stop at your local Recycle BC depot, or visit a participating London Drugs store to drop off your flexible plastic and foam packaging. You can find a depot here.
Flexible plastics that are accepted include:
- Crinkle wrappers, like granola bars and chips
- Zipper-lock and stand-up pouches used for used for snacks and freeze-dried meals
- Flexible packaging with a plastic seal for prepackaged deli meats or stuffed pasta
- Plastic bags for bread, produce, and groceries
- Overwrap for pop flats, paper towels, or toilet paper
- Shrink wrap
- Zipper-lock sandwich and snack bags
- Woven plastic bags for fruits and vegetables
- Protective packaging from items like crackers and seaweed snacks
To see the full list of what we accept, visit RecycleBC.ca/FlexiblePlastics.
Enjoy your outdoor experience and remember to Pack Lean, Leave Clean!