Meal Planning Monday ~ It’s Picnic Time!

This week’s post is by Kim Bergeron of Extreme Coupon Professors.

It’s Picnic Time! Summer starts with a bang – heading to friends’ houses for BBQs, congregations lining up church picnic outings, and my husband’s company puts several picnic outings together over the summer. What do all these have in common? Yummy food, of course, with good friends.

Certainly, you know almost every picnic will have your traditional burgers, chips, salads and watermelon, but I wanted to come up with a few different and memorable dishes you can bring along with you!

Now, my first picnic dish is our Black Bean Salsa. It’s a simple recipe that is so tasty with chips, over chicken, or for a side. We’re asked at every outing for the recipe, so now we bring recipe cards for friends to take with them.

Does anyone bring brownies and cookies to picnics? Well, here we have a recipe that is a brownie cupcake with a cookie surprise. Every kid loves these at picnics! Top them with frosting and a cherry for a sweeter look.

My new favorite outing dessert is our pies in a jar. Yep, make individual pies in  canning jars. I stock up on pie filling so everyone has their favorite pie. These are so cute, easy and everyone will be impressed!

We have a large family and when we go off for the day I pack our food most of the time. One thing we purchased secondhand was a tailgating grill. This past weekend we went to the mountains one day and the ocean the next. There’s nothing like a Tailgating Picnic- eating hot BBQ chicken and steak by the beach, especially when the people next to us are having PB&J.

Here’s a twist on chocolate covered strawberries, another picnic dessert that will vanish before your eyes. I simply melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until it’s all melted. Then I roll my strawberries in the melted chocolate, then in crushed toffee. (You can find crushed Heath bar in a bag in the aisle with the chocolate chips.)   I make an extra batch and leave them at home-this makes my family very happy!

The fun thing about picnics and BBQs are that you don’t have to limit yourself to the boring basics. Be creative and have fun!  Watch for more delicious picnic recipes in my Picnic Series.

I’m a wife, mommy and a lover of life enjoying everything from playing board games to cooking to traveling. Finding deals for our family has allowed us to do the fun things in life with enjoyment and less stress. When I find a deal I’ll always share it on
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Meal Planning Monday ~ Best of Summer


Happy Memorial Day!  Much love and respect to our troops, past and present, and to the families of our fallen soldiers.

I know that the official first day of summer is June 21st, but for me the start of summer is Memorial Day weekend.  Everyone is out manning the grills, mowing the lawns, and opening the swimming pools.  So I thought I would highlight some of the “Best of Summer” Meal Planning posts so you can make sure your summer meals are both easy and tasty.  Here are some of my favorites!


Save Big, But Still Impress, at Your Summer BBQ ~ How to have an awesome BBQ without breaking the bank!
Favorite Picnic Side Dishes ~ Inspiration for your side dishes to accompany your burgers and hot dogs!
Keeping It Cool in the Kitchen ~ Get tips for cooking great summer meals without heating up the kitchen.
Summer Desserts ~ A round up of sweet, cool treats for hot, sticky days!
I am an Ice Cream Evil Genius!  For those of you with an ice cream maker, don’t miss these delicious recipes.
Happy Campers ~ Great recipes for your summer camping trips.
Summer Fun ~ These aren’t recipes to eat, but for fun activities to keep your kids occupied and happy all summer!
What are  your best tips for successful meal planning during the summer months?

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.