Springtime has sprung here in New England and it’s officially time to wash the salt off your car, plant your veggies, spark up the grill, and take the kitty litter out of your backseat (if you’re from a cold climate, you’ll get that last one). And best of all, it's picnic season, which means it's time to share some of my all-time best tips for creating the perfect vegan picnic!
If you're new to plant-based living, you may be wondering just what the heck a vegan picnic will look like for you. But do not fear. You WILL survive without mayonnaise. I know it goes against everything we’ve been taught, but mayo isn’t the backbone of all summer foods (I get it — I had trouble with this reality, too). I promise, you can still enjoy potato salad, pasta salad, chick’n salad, and creamy dips all summer long without it and you’ll feel much better, too!
OK, now that I’ve dropped that bombshell, let’s talk about how to build your perfect vegan picnic for you and your loved ones.
Picnics are for everyone: Plant-based picnics can be a fantastic date idea, family fun day activity, or even just a great plan for a catchup hang with old friends. Heck, you can even take yourself on a picnic!
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Keep it simple. It’s easy to go over the top with side dishes, appetizers and desserts. Remember, the purpose of a picnic is to enjoy quality time with friends or family, so keep the prep work light so you can sit back and relax in the springtime sunshine. Here are four easy ways to keep it simple at your vegan picnic:
1. Cook the night before
Most classic picnic recipes taste better after marinating overnight anyway, even plant-based ones! And when you cook the night before, all you have to do on the day of your vegan picnic is add finishing touches and pack it all up.
2. Choose 3 dishes to make max
Who needs a five-course meal when they’re serving themselves? Choose 3 simple vegan recipes to make and serve everything family-style!
3. Lean heavily on fruit
You can always bring self-containing (they come with their own peel) appetizers like tangerines, grapes, apples, and peaches. Fruit is your BFF here.
4. Don’t bring anything you have to cut with the knife
Eating on the ground can be…awkward. People tend to hold their plate with one hand and their fork with the other. Let’s not make it harder than it needs to be. Finger foods and fork foods are best when it comes to plant-based picnic recipes. Pre-chop anything that needs to be cut at home. And forget soup — it's just downright messy!
- Pack a machine washable picnic blanket!
- Don't forget cloth napkins. Throw those bad boys in the wash with your picnic blanket when all is said and done.
- Bring a few wet-wipes. There’s nothing worse than sticky fingers with nowhere to wipe them!
- Use your cloth napkins and picnic blanket to pad your dishes in your basket.
- Picnic by a natural source of water if possible. Not only is it beautiful, but this way you can rinse your hands, dishes, and silverware (no soap!) before packing it up to go home.
- Remember to pack a paper bag for your dirty dishes, and one for your food scraps.
- Don’t forget a beverage! Lemon water is a great go-to because it’s not sticky, it’s okay at room temperature, and let’s face it… it’s fancier than just plain water.
- Only pack vegan recipes that can be eaten on a plate, AKA avoid soups, or any other dish that requires a bowl. Each person gets 1 plate and 1 glass. Easy peasy.
- Bring only plant-based foods that can be eaten at room temperature to avoid hauling ice packs or thermoses.
Now for the exciting part. What to pack! Remember…keep it to your top 3 easy picnic recipes, but bring as much self-containing fruit as you'd like.
1. Mediterranean Pasta Salad
4 cups of cooked pasta
¼ a cup of oil-free Italian dressing*
1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes
½ cup of sliced black olives
1 diced red pepper
*Italian balsamic dressing recipe: 4 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1 ½ Tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 2 teaspoon of dried parsley, 2 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ teaspoon of celery salt, a dash of black pepper.
2. Everything But The Bagel Cucumbers
Dice 2 cucumbers and splash with a little apple cider vinegar. Dust heavily with Everything But the Bagel seasoning. (Simple and delicious!)
3. Bean, Avocado and Corn Side
Mix 1 cup of diced avocado, 1 cup of corn, 1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes and 1 cup of black beans together with a tablespoon of lime juice, a little sea salt, and black pepper. Eat with a fork.
4. Hummus Wraps
For each wrap:
Spread at least ½ a cup of hummus on a whole grain tortilla (yeah, that's a lot of hummus!). Load with ¼ a cup of shredded carrots, ½ a sliced red pepper, 6 or so thin slices of cucumber, ½ an avocado, and a drizzle of your favorite oil-free dressing (see recipe above) before wrapping.
1. Vegan Ranch Potato Salad
This super simple MamaSezz Vegan Ranch Potato Salad will be sure to make its way into your summer staples list.
2. Mama’s Awesome Coleslaw
Shred 4 cups of cabbage (red, green or combo!), and 2 large carrots. Toss with 1 cup of your MamaSezz Awesome Sauce (or as much as you’d like!) and let marinate overnight.
3. Mama’s Pasta Salad
Mix 4 cups of cooked pasta with 1 cup of MamaSezz Ranch Dressing or 1 cup of MamaSezz Awesome Sauce (add more sauce if needed). Mix with 1 diced red pepper, ½ a cup of sliced black olives, 1 cups of halved cherry tomatoes, and ¼ a cup of green onion.
4. Chick’n Salad Sandwiches
Build your MamaSezz Aunt Mary's Chick'n Salad sandwich:
- Whole grain bread
- MamaSezz Aunt Mary's Chick'n Salad
- Sliced tomato
- Dijon mustard
- Optional: Dill pickle slices
5. MamaSezz Baked Beans (yes, these are amazing cold!)
Just serve MamaSezz Baked Beans as is!
6. Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Build yourMamaSezz Tuna "ish" Salad sandwich:
- Whole grain bread
- MamaSezz Tuna "ish" Salad
- Sliced avocado
- Sliced tomato
- Optional: A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
And there you have it! If you weren't planning on picnicking this spring or summer, think again. It's a great way to get a little sunshine, enjoy the company of others, and share delicious foods...the ultimate form of bonding.
Ready to build your own vegan picnic with MamaSezz?
Order a MamaSezz Build your Own Bundle today and don't forget to add:
- MamaSezz Chick'n Salad
- MamaSezz Ranch Dressing
- MamaSezz Awesome Sauce
- MamaSezz Tuna "ish" Salad
- MamaSezz Baked Beans
(And why not some MamaSezz All Day No-A-Cookies* for dessert?)
*before you checkout, find Mama's Cookies as an "add on" option!
- Outdoor dining can be fun and relaxing
- For an easy and successful vegan picnic, prepare ahead of time, and keep it simple.
- Don't forget about cleanup! Wet wipes and machine washable blankets will keep your experience neat and tidy.
- Choose only 3 plant-based recipes, bring lemon water, and pack plenty of fresh fruit to your vegan picnic.
- MamaSezz offers some amazing vegan picnic worthy dishes to enjoy with loved ones!
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.