Favorite Picnic Side Dishes

This week’s blog post is by Leah Kelley.

Our first family camping trip was a success! The kids had a blast playing in the dirt, hiking, and roasting marshmallows. We did have to cut our trip short due to bad weather but that’s okay because we have plenty more camping trips planned.

 Summertime means grill outs and picnics! For today’s meal planning post I thought I would share some of my favorite picnic foods. I do want to stress the importance of food safety. Anything cream or mayonnaise-based should remain cold and/or not left out for more than an hour. I am a stickler for this. Eat one bad batch of potato salad and you’re food-paranoid for life!

 Here are a few of my favorite picnic recipes:

 Pasta Salad ~ The possibilities are endless when it comes to pasta salad! I tend to stick to basic pasta salad if I’m bringing it to a grill out: cooked pasta, diced cucumbers and red onions, cherry tomatoes, and Italian dressing. I love feta cheese sprinkled on  mine.

 Potato Salad ~ Who doesn’t love a good potato salad?! My husband’s grandma makes the best potato salad but won’t part with her recipe; it’s killing me!  However, the Dill Potato Salad recipe below is also very delicious.

 Cole Slaw ~ As with pasta salad, the possibilities are endless with coleslaw. Mayonnaise based or vinegar based? Red cabbage mixed with green cabbage or just green cabbage? Maybe you want to get fancy with some Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing!

Baked Beans ~ I love cold baked beans! Not sure how many other people do so I would serve them warm.

 Mac and Cheese ~ If you know you will be able to keep it warm I would make big batch and bring it! I love mac n cheese with grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. I have a picky daughter who would just eat mac and cheese and nothing else. I’m sure a few of you have that one picky eater in your family, too.

 Watermelon ~ Don’t forget the watermelon!! For the kids you could slice small pieces and stick a Popsicle stick through the rind and make them watermelon pops. You could also have a little fun with watermelon and let the kids have a seed spitting contest.

 Lemonade ~ Nothing says summer quite like homemade lemonade!  Make a big batch for your next grill out or summer party. Kids and adults alike will thank you for the delicious drink.


Perfect Lemonade

from Simply Recipes


  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)

Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

 Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

Serve with ice, sliced lemons.

Dill Potato Salad


  • 3 pounds new red potatoes, diced and unpeeled
  • 1 cup of reduced fat mayo
  • ¾ cup of light sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Tbs. dried dill weed
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook about 10- 12 minutes.  Drain and cool in an ice water
bath until cold, about 5 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, dill, and onions and stir until well blended.  Pour mayo mixture over potatoes and toss to coat evenly.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.  Stir before serving.