I’m a picnic packing pro of sorts. For years, I’d surprise my two sons, and sometimes their friends, with a whole picnic basket of food for lunch or generous snacks. Depending on where we lived at the time, they may have taken it down to the creek to share with friends or over to the dirt hole to enjoy it. Yes, dirt hole, or mud hole, depending on whether or not they’d grabbed the hose on a warm day.
My sons were “diggers” as a close family friend used to laughingly say. It was true. They couldn’t resist digging in the dirt. I gave them a sparse part of the yard or a tired-out garden spot at every house (we’ve moved a lot) and they would dig to their heart’s desire. They’d carry out trucks or “army men,” and set up battle scenes, dig for treasure, or try to dig as far as they could. Sure, it meant more laundry and sweeping and such, but they are only kids and “dirt diggers” for so long.
The following cookbooks would have been great inspiration as they grew older—and now provide picnic ideas to break out of the routine of every day. Who says you can’t picnic in front of the fireplace in the winter or on your porch or in the backyard? Don’t let your location, lack of mobility, or anything else get in the way of perking up your days. Let the picnic-themed cookbooks below show you how it’s done.
50 Grand Picnics: Menus and Recipes for the Best Picnic Sites around the Bay Area (1982) by Beverly Levine (Amazon) (eBay)
You might think that a book featuring picnic destinations around the San Francisco Bay has no place here. However, WOW! There’s more to this 7.65 x 5.84 x 0.69-inch book than you’d think. Let me back up. This book opens with specific destinations as arranged in the chapters below:
Chapters include: Introduction, Check Lists for Packing Up, Picnics with a View, Picnics for Ship Watchers, Picnics for Bird Waters, Picnics with Music, Picnics with History, Picnics in the Wine Country, Picnics for Pickers, Picnics amid the Flowers, Picnics in the City, and Picnics by Lakes and Streams.
Beverly provides simple picnic recipes, some that are more elegant, and some that require a grill. For example, the “Coyote Hills Regional Park” menu includes: Meat-Filled Pastry, Pickled Onions a la Grecque, Crunchy Green Pea Salad, Shoestring Potatoes, Fresh Fruit, Individually Wrapped Mints, Beaujolais or Zinfandel, and Coffee. Recipes are for the pastry, onions, and the pea salad. After the recipe, Beverly inserts handy packing instructions, so you know how to transport the food without fuss. A full intro is included regarding the destination which alone makes for a good read. At 184 pages, 50 Grand Picnics is picnic perfect, Bay Area visitor or resident or not with an ample selection of recipes useful for picnics or at home.
The Art of Picnics: Seasonal Outdoor Entertaining (2021) by Alanna O’Neil (Amazon) (eBay)
Pretty picnic ideas feel achievable with this lovely book. Alanna’s mother was an artist and a wedding florist, growing the majority of the flowers herself, so Alanna has long been surrounded by beauty, creativity, and nature (and grew up in a home without a TV). Alanna is a food stylist (so you know she knows her stuff). Put her darling, yet doable, ideas to work, while packing a memorable picnic basket or creating a photo-worthy grazing board.
Chapters include: Prepare and Gather, Pop Up and Pantry Picnics, Seasonal Spreads, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and The Parting Glass.
Alanna’s Autumn menu includes Swiss Chard Stuffed Bread, Oatmeal Date Bars, and Peach Lemonade. Her style is whimsical, with her childhood stories scattered throughout the 224-page, 8 x 1 x 9.75-inch cookbook. Magical picnics begin here.
Farm Journal’s Picnic and Barbecue Cookbook: with 250 Recipes Plus Sample Menus (1982) by Farm Journal (Amazon) (eBay)
You know you are here on Little Indiana Bakes when you see a Farm Journal cookbook, I swear. I’ve raved about this 150 page+ cookbook with more than 250 recipes and 60 menus before.
Chapters include: Let’s Eat Outdoors, Springtime Celebrations, Summer Reunions, and Autumn Gatherings. Below each chapter lies a menu idea and the page number.
Let’s take a look at a menu, such as “All-American Cookout.” You’ll find the recipes for Grilled Hamburgers with assorted Toppings, Eggciting Potato Salad, Coleslaw Pepper Cups, Outdoor Brownies, and Iced Coffee. Not bad, right? Especially not bad for 1982. This book has mostly aged well, in my opinion. I like the big intro pages to the chapters that provide a bit of detail. Read and cook all manner of picnic food from this one.
Good Day for a Picnic: Simple Food that Travels Well (2005) by Jeremy Jackson (Amazon) (eBay)
It’s a 214-page, 7.38 x 0.81 x 9.13-inch cookbook. You’ll need to prop this one open, but if you want something a little different from the norm—Jeremy’s your man. Images are of long ago picnics (black and white), and not the food, yet add a nice touch. Recipes are easy to read, with intros for all of us cookbook readers, but veer away from the picnic norm.
Chapters include: Introduction: Gorging Outdoors; Drinks, Starters, and Small Bites; Salads, Sides, Two Soups, and a Bread; A French Interlude: A Letter from Laura Calder with a Picnic Menu; Sandwiches and Substantial Courses; and Sweets Galore.
Picnic recipes you’ll find in this book include Zucchini Fritters; Fig Pate; Chunky Summer Salad with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Farmer Cheese; and Chicken Salad with Grapes, Tarragon, and Toasted Walnuts. As you can see, it’s fancier than the usual meat-and-cheese sandwich and pea salad combo. If you want to bring your picnics to new heights, this book won’t steer you wrong.
The Great British Picnic Guide (2008) by Mark Price (Amazon) (eBay)
Brits will enjoy National Trust picnic destinations, while the rest of us read along enviously. Recipes are shared first. Then, the book jumps to the destinations, providing history and background, nearby destinations, area locales for a cheat’s picnic (like farmer’s markets and farm shops), as well as what recipes make a great accompaniment.
Chapters include: Introduction, The Picnic – A Potted History, Perfect Picnics, The Recipes (Wraps and Sandwiches, Finger Food and Other Savory Dishes, Salads, Hot Foods, Cakes and Puddings, and Drinks), Picnic Places, and Gazetteer.
Welshpool, Powys: Powis Castle and Gardens offers up the following menu ideas for a picnic: Leek and Cheddar Tart; Broad Bean, Ham, and Feta Salad; and Raspberry Custard Fool. The “Cheat’s Picnic” callout suggests the castle restaurant for food. If you ignored all the British picnic spots, you’d still find plenty of picnic foods to love in the 192-page book.
Le Picnic: Chic Food for on-the-Go (2017) by Suzy Ashford (Amazon) (eBay)
What a gorgeous 8 x 0.7 x 9.5-inch, 128-page book! This cookbook may contain a mere 50 recipes, but it’s pure joy to browse. Cherry-Tomato Tartlets, Strawberry Tart with Orange Liqueur Crème Patissiere (we so fancy), Lamb and Pistachio Terrine, and Chocolate and Cointreau Mousse give you an idea of what to expect. These recipes are made for picnics, yet work equally well for an indoor company dinner in the dead of winter.
Chapters include: Le Snack, Food for Sharing, Le Salade, Sweet Delights, and La Drink.
I’m the first to admit that this is an “I’d like to have an occasion to cook like that,” kind of a cookbook to me, and not a “I will use this cookbook constantly” kind of cookbook (which is unfortunate, I know). Frequent event throwers and backyard barbecue types who need a more upscale change of pace, who yearn for new riffs on classic favorites, will wonder how they ever lived without this one. Expect grams and ounce measurements PLUS cups for convenient accessibility.
A Moveable Feast: Delicious Food to Take with You (2014) by Katy Holder (Amazon) (eBay)
“There are numerous occasions when you might need recipes that travel well,” writes Katy. Good thing her book delivers recipes and picnic styling inspiration in oversized doses. With 180 pages, it’s a useful book for anyone who wants an attractive picnic basket with all the fixings.
Chapters include: Loaves, Breads, and Muffins; Flaky and Crumbly; Mini Morsels; Fresh and Leafy; All Wrapped Up; Bigger Bites; Artfully Moveable; Something Sweet; and Drinks.
Will you make her Goat Cheese, Black Olive, and Herb Muffins or the Chicken and Pork Picnic Pie? Maybe the Egg, Bacon, and Spinach Pies; Dressed Lettuce Wedges; or the Tomato and Shallot Savory Tarte Tatin is more your style. Images accompany many of the recipes, as do helpful tips. This cookbook offers up a beautiful layout and recipes that might be a bit beyond your usual. But, they sure do look worth the effort.
The Moveable Feast: A Picnic Cookbook for All Seasons (2007) by Denise McMurry and Vicky Bittner (Amazon) (eBay)
I love a cookbook with a good story. This one has it! Two friends wrote The Moveable Feast cookbook. They met in Germany, eight years later, they were together again in Fort Hood, Texas. Both of their husbands were sent to Iraq for a year. So, they kept their kids entertained with picnics. One ended up in Colorado, the other in the Netherlands, but the friendship created over picnics thrived.
Chapters include: About the Book, Ideas for Packing Food, Packing for the Picnic, Cold Items, Hot Items, Locations for Your Picnic, Stocking Your Picnic Basket, Snacks for the Ride, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
Recipes are mostly homemade and interesting. The Georgian Basket Menu includes Goat and Artichoke Dip, Sweet and Salty Friend Chicken, Oma’s Potato Salad, Angel Food Cake with Blueberries and Cream, Wheat Beer, and a kids’ menu: Hawaiian Delight Platter (pineapple boats filled with fruit, meat, and cheese skewers). Angel Food Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing and Pineapple Juice. Color images highlight different picnic dishes throughout. It’s a slim 96-page cookbook you can use, but not one to read as it dives into recipes and continues without so much as an intro. I have seen several typos (“angle” instead of “angel”), but I still like it.
The Outdoor Table: The Ultimate Cookbook for Your Next Backyard BBQ, Front-Porch Meal, Tailgate, or Picnic (2015) by April McKinney (Amazon) (eBay)
Get your picnic-loving mitts on this pretty 288-page, 7 x 0.88 x 9-inch cookbook. You’ll like the sprinkling of images and the tidy layout with one recipe per page—with intros to each recipe (we love that, don’t we?). That goes for every recipe, even if it’s something small like a beverage (her recipes for drinks do sound delish).
Chapters include: Introduction, Beverages, Breakfast, Appetizers, Breads, Sides, Main Dishes, and Desserts.
Chock-full of picnic foods (and lots of bacon-containing recipes for any bacon lovers out there), these outdoor-friendly recipes aren’t big on “wild” ingredients (as in: Hard to find, Pricey). Lime Surprise Bars make my list, as do Bacon-Wrapped Hash Brown Bites, and Bourbon-Spiked Peach Tea. Oh, and Orange Dream Slush (one of my youngest son’s and my favorite flavors). Great drink recipes are only the beginning.
A Perfect Day for a Picnic: Over 80 Recipes for Outdoor Feasts to Share with Family and Friends (2019) by Tori Finch (Amazon) (eBay)
Flip to any page in this 6.7 x 0.7 x 8.25-inch cookbook and feel inspired. Lovely photography captures food so gorgeous you’d almost hate to eat it. Almost. These are upgraded picnic recipes too, so expect a bit more planning and a little more kitchen time. But that’s part of the joy of it, right?
Chapters include: Introduction, Planning Your Picnic, Vintage Garden Party, Bohemian Picnic, Bike Ride Picnic, Choosing Your Menu, Luxe Picnic, Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Romantic Picnic, Packing Your Picnic, Indochine Picnic, Woodland Walk Picnic, Setting the Scene, Provencal Picnic, and Beach Barbecue.
Buffalo Mozzarella, Beef Tomato and Basil Puff Tart; Potted Amaretti Tiramisu, Tennessee Boozy Campfire Chicken, and French Strawberry Tart. Do note that ingredients are listed in grams/milliliters and in cups. Many images brighten up the 144 pages and urge you to get cookin’.
The Perfect Picnic (1936, 2011) by Hilda Leyel (Amazon) (eBay)
You wouldn’t catch that this 149-page, 5.37 x 0.62 x 8-inch book is an old cookbook—not at first. Hilda writes like many a cookbook author, with a slightly formal, yet friendly, air. Hilda promoted local, seasonal ingredients in her book, first published in 1936. Illustrations grace a few pages, recipes are written paragraph-style, and lack intro. Yet, her preface is wonderful and many recipes do stand the test of time.
Chapters include: Menus, Recipes, Suitable Drinks, and Packing the Picnic Basket.
My gripe? Hilda includes cake as dessert suggestions, but not the recipes, as those are found in her Cakes of England book. Sigh. I did so want to check out the cakes. At least there are plenty of other recipes. Hilda begins with a series of numbered menus accompanied by the page number. If you want “Menu Number 23,” you’ll flip to page 66, for recipes including Roast Duck and Apple Sauce; Green Pea, Orange, and Beetroot Salad; Ginger Cake; and Goats’ Cheese and Bath Olivers. Or head to “Menu Number 13” for Stuffed Pimentos; Roast Pork and Sauce Robert; Potatoes in Jackets; and Cream Cheese, Black Olives, and Cream Crackers. Many items don’t fit modern American tastes, but I do see intriguing sides and lighter fare, like Hilda’s dessert pie recipes, Cold Beef with Horseradish Sauce, Crab Tartlets, Hot Carrot Soup, and Chicken and Leek Pie.
Picnic: 125 Recipes with 29 Seasonal Menus (2001) by DeeDee Stovel (Amazon) (eBay)
The author shares that these are her favorite recipes containing her favorite foods, and typically meant to feed eight people. Of course, her romantic picnic ideas are meant for two. No matter what menu you choose, the directions are simple to follow.
Chapters include: What is a Picnic? Picnic Planning, Spring Flings, Summer Spreads, Autumn Outings, and Winter Wanderings.
Under “Spring Flings,” DeeDee’s “Spring Day-Hike Picnic” offers up a menu featuring Grilled Chicken Fillets in a Spinach Wrap, Artichoke Salad, Carrot Sticks, Gingerbread and Fruit, and Herbal Iced Tea. Handy suggestions remind you of needed items to tote in your picnic basket. This 184-page, 8.02 x 0.48 x 7.98-inch picnic cookbook may not be loaded with images, but it does have cute illustrations.
Picnic: The Complete Guide to Outdoor Food (1982) by Claudia Roden (Amazon) (eBay)
Oh, do I love the introduction to picnics at the start of this book. Claudia writes of the history, referencing other vintage cookbooks, as it pertains to the English lifestyle of the time. Born and raised in Cairo, Egypt; Claudia may be known for her middle eastern cookbooks, but this 381-page picnic cookbook is no slouch.
Chapters include: Eating in the Garden, Food to Take Out, Cooking in the Open, Suggestions for the Traveler, and Barbecuing Chart. Chapters divide further. In the “Food to Take Out” chapter, for example, you’ll find English Picnics, Soups, Sandwiches, Cold Sauces and Relishes, Vegetables and Other Dips, and many more.
Claudia typically portioned the sizes for six people, unless stated otherwise. No images, but the illustrations are fantastic. Claudia shares the recipe for an Apple Sponge Cake, stating she had it while dining in her friend’s garden—a friend who happened to be writing a cookbook about cakes. How fun is that? Since this is an English cookbook, expect to use grams and ounces. Do forgive such things. Every paragraph-style recipe includes an intro and many doable recipes, like Italian Pepper and Fontina Cheese Salad, Chicken Pie of Moroccan Inspiration, Pan Bagnat, Marinated Pork Chops, and Lebanese Kibbeh. What a great read!
The Picnic Cookbook (2012) by Annie Bell (Amazon) (eBay)
Planned ahead or last minute, this cookbook contains over 100 recipes to help you pack your picnic basket. I like the large list of suggestions for a DIY sandwich bar. Not only do I find that idea fun, but this smart addition includes items you may not think to bring along otherwise.
Chapters include: Great Location, Great Food; What’s the Plan?; What Shall We Eat? Will It, Won’t Rain?; Perfect Picnic: Top Tips; Picnic Kit; A Checklist for Picnic Perfection; Dips, Pates, and Cold Cuts; Breads, Tarts, and Pies; Salads; Sunday Roast Picnic; Hot Food on Location; and A Happy Ending.
My youngest caught mackerel while doing some ocean fishing a few years ago—and it turned into a favorite. I know he’d go for these Mackerel Rillettes (and they look great too). Cherry Tomato and Parmesan Galettes might be the best thing to happen to that bounty of summer tomatoes since I don’t know what. Salt Caramel Millionaire Shortbread looks beautiful. I’m so glad this book blends story with tips, suggestions, and appealing recipes whatever your picnic situation. Yes, some recipes may not hold with an American audience (it’s a UK published book, so expect different ingredients and grams), but I find all 176 pages completely fun.
The Picnic Cookbook (1979) by Barbara Weiland (Amazon) (eBay)
A great mix of homemade recipes should prove popular with any picnicker in the bunch. Barbara’s menus make it a breeze to hone in on the best foods for your crowd with minimal fuss. Mix and match to your heart’s content. These recipes are so good, it’s hard to stop at a few.
Chapters include: Introduction, Picnic Preliminaries: The Picnic Basket: Accessories and Supplies; Food and Fire Safety; The Picnic Menus: Spring Excursions: Dining Amid Flowers; Summer Spreads: For Mountains, Seashore, and Backyard; Autumn Bounty: Best of the Harvest; Winter Picnics: By Snowbank or Hearth; More Good Food to Go: The Basics, and Mix and Match Recipes.
Barbara breaks each chapter down into specific menus. Under “Spring Excursions:” “Dining Amid Flowers,” for example, there are menus for a “Bikers’ Easy Gourmet Backpack” with Cold Shrimp Vinaigrette, Susy’s Easy Herb Jar Chicken, Vegetable Confetti, Brandied Tomatoes, and Easy Caramel Custard. Other menus in the same chapter include Child’s Hobo Lunch, Japanese Celebration of Spring, Fresh Catch (Or Catch as Catch Can), May Day Picnic Brunch, Moving Day Picnic, and Bridal Shower Picnic Buffet. Retro illustrations and clear directions span the 216 pages of this older, yet relevant, picnic book.
The Picnic Gourmet (1978) by Joan Hemingway and Connie Maricich (Amazon) (eBay)
What a great used bookstore find. The front cover alone sold me. Those people have one amazing picnic spread in a “Sound of Music” looking locale, but I also can’t help but notice that they are wearing coats! Those are some dedicated picnickers right there. It’s also a larger book, with 295 pages, and some absolutely fantastic illustrations.
Chapters include: Introduction, Preface, Packing Notes, A Note on Wild Foods, Notes on Picnic Wines, Ten Picnics, Soup, Main Dishes, Salads, Bread Side Dishes and Condiments, Desserts, and Some Basic Cooking Instructions. The chapters break down further into more specific sections, such as “Cookies and Bars” under “Desserts.”
These people know their picnics. Roast Chicken with Wild Garlic and Herbs, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad, Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing, Cold Chicken with Walnut Sauce, Hot Cheddar Cheese Soup, White Bean Salad…I could keep going on. It is a joy to read and one I hope to put to frequent use in the near future.
The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket (2015) by Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker, and Jen Stevenson (Amazon) (eBay)
The authors began picnicking with friends, turning it into a monthly event that lasted for hours. I could get behind that. Let’s be picnic pals! This 192-page, 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.3-inch book shares what they know, with all the tips you need to prep and host picnics like a pro.
Chapters include: Preface, From Basket to Blanket, Bites, Salads, Plates, Sweets, Sips, Until We Meet Again, and Picnic Provisions.
Illustrations abound—and they are so fun and lively. It’s the kind of book you want to read and then display. Know what I mean? With humorous comments and witty checklists, it’s a laidback approach to outdoor dining. Recipes include Blue Ribbon Tomato Pie, Spicy Salted Olive Oil Brownies, Caesar Dressing, Caprese Salad on a Stick, and Horseradish-Rubbed Flank Steak with Blistered Tomatoes. Not too fancy at all.
Picnic! Recipes and Menus for Outdoor Enjoyment (1990) by Edith Stovel (Amazon) (eBay)
Illustrations liven up some pages. Each section includes an intro to the picnic idea, the menu, and a list of extra items to bring, if required. At 174 pages, with one recipe per page, it isn’t the biggest picnic book out there, but it is easy to follow with the “classic” sort of picnic recipes your home clan expects.
Chapters include: What is a Picnic?, Picnic Logistics, A Note about the Recipes, Types of Picnics: Picnics in a Pack, Work Picnics, Potluck Picnics, Store-Bought Picnics, Sandy Picnics, Elegant Picnics, and Romantic Picnics.
Menus include a “Summer Canoe Picnic” with Iced Cucumber Soup, Lemony Chicken, Red Potato Salad with Fresh Peas, Tannies (a type of bar cookie) and Grapes, and White Wine Spritzers or Sparkling Cranberry Juice. These are the type of recipes I think of when I think “picnic.” Unfussy and simple; I like what I see here.
Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods (2005) by Robin Vitetta-Miller (Amazon) (eBay)
Don’t overlook this 96-page, 7.79 x 0.5 x 7.77-inch picnic-themed cookbook. Although many recipes sound a bit “fancier” than what I would bring a bunch of kids digging in the yard, now that my sons are older…they align quite a bit with our tastes. It’s a picnic cookbook where some recipes require a little more effort (though nothing too strenuous, really), mixing some uncommon recipes (Pineapple-Apricot Nectar) with the more common (Chocolate-Dunked Coconut Macaroons).
Chapters include: Introduction; Finger Foods and Starters; Wrapture and Distinctive Sandwiches; Extraordinary Salads; Dips and Spreads with Toasts, Twists, Crisps, and Other Bread Concoctions; and Sweet Temptations.
Each chapter opens with a great image and a list of the recipes (not the page number) of the recipes within that section. Under “Sweet Temptations” (of course you know that’s what we’re honing in on here), you’ll find a dozen recipes like Hazelnut Half-Moon Cookies, Banana-Raspberry Bread, and Toffee-Chocolate Bars with Cashews. Other recipes like Red Potato Salad with Bacon and Fresh Herbs, Smoked Turkey Wrap with Brie and Granny Smiths, Sesame-Glazed Shrimp Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, and Roasted Garlic Spread with Goat Cheese (I do love dips) make this cookbook regarding picnics sit high on my “would love to own” list.
Picnics: Over 40 Recipes for Dining in the Great Outdoors (1994) Collected for Mercedes-Benz (Amazon) (eBay)
Recipes within this book were taken from the Country Garden Cookbook series (I’ve mentioned that one before too). If you haven’t read about it, this was a beautiful single-subject bunch of cookbooks. Using those recipes, Heidi created six themed menus that open this 96-page book.
Chapters include: Introduction, Picnicking Logistics, Special Occasion Menus, Salads and Sides, Sandwiches, Grilled Morsels, Sweets, and Beverages.
Let’s take a look at the menu termed “Autumn Courtship in an Italian Garden.” Salmagundi; Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Prosciutto on Panini; Olives Spiced with Lemon and Herbs; Lemon Squares; and Chianti Classico. That would win me over no problem. Any takers? I’d say most recipes are on the snazzier side, so do keep that in mind. But, if you want a great leap beyond the norm—this book is it.
Stan Wiley Country Picnic Cookbook (1977) by Stan Wiley, Inc. Realtors (Amazon) (eBay)
Of all the books in this list of picnic cookbooks, Stan Wiley Country Picnic sits apart. Why? Easy: These are the recipes from the annual Stan Wiley Realtors Picnic held at Blue Lake Park in Portland, Oregon in 1977. This cookbook holds every recipe from the first annual Stan Wiley Cook-Off. Judges were Elizabeth Gillenwater, food editor of the Oregon Journal; Richard Nelson, assistant to James Beard; and Geneva Jones, home economist at Pacific Power and Light. Each judge then chose three favorites in 11 categories (shown as the chapters below) plus one grand prize winner.
Chapters include: Appetizers, Miscellaneous Salads, Green Salads, Main Dishes, Baked Breads, Pies, Cakes, Cookies, Miscellaneous Desserts, and Punches.
With 82 pages, and the coil binding I despise, I can’t NOT love this cookbook. It’s full of family recipes. Each recipe lists the place it received (if any) and the name of the contributor. Dill Dip, Daphne’s French Bread, Strawberry Cream Pie, Jennifer’s Carrot Cake…I keep finding good recipes in here. If you’re yearning for the flavors of “home,” this well aligns with my memory banks.
Swedish Summer Feasts: Favorite Recipes for Picnics, Brunches, and Barbecues by the Beach (2015) by Amanda Schulman and Hannah Widell (Amazon) (eBay)
Look into Swedish culture and lifestyle with this cute book on Swedish-style picnics. Images are included, as are plenty of stories for lots of cookbook reading. Learn the lives of these sisters who summer together and snag plenty of Swedish family recipes in the process.
Chapters include: Welcome; The First Day of Summer; Midsummer; Breakfast for Hours; Beach Picnic; After the Sauna; Love to Bake; Tapas on the Front Steps; Birthday Party on the Beach; Endless Barbecues; A Rainy Day; All Delicious Things at Once; Barbecue by the Sea; Potluck with “Presents” on the Barbecue; Tired of Barbecues; Elderflower, Rhubarb, and Plums; Crayfish Feast; and Packing Up.
The menu for “Love to Bake,” includes Cardamom Cake, Grandma Gunny’s Caramel Cookies, Our Bread Rolls for the Beach, and Fruit and Nut Loaf. The “Beach Picnic” menu offers up Veggies and Dip, The Perfect Beach Refreshment, Gazpacho, Mom’s Chicken Salad, Fried Egg and Bologna Sandwich, and Mini Raspberry Muffins. If you enjoy Swedish food or reading about life in Sweden, this 160-page, 8.5 x 0.8 x 10.63-inch cookbook was made for you.
Teddy Bears’ Picnic Cookbook (1991) by Abigail Darling and Alexandra Day (Amazon) (eBay)
This is a short and sweet children’s cookbook for picnics indoors and out. Why include this 30-something page book? Our sons have at different times wanted easy things to make. This book would have not only fit the bill, but it would have given them different ideas about where a picnic can take place.
Chapters include: None. This book is arranged by menu.
Each menu opens with an intro discussion how teddy bears relate to the theme. It’s pretty cute and I have never been all that big on teddy bears (except for “Honey,” a gift from Santa when I was in third grade). Most menus include roughly two or three items. “The Breakfast Picnic,” for example is made of Scrambled Egg Sandwiches, Yogurt and Juice Shake-Ups, and Oranges. Nothing is too taxing. When considering the appetites of my kids, however, I would have needed to beef it up a bit.
The Totally Picnic Cookbook (1996) by Helene Siegel (Amazon) (eBay)
I was ready to skip past this 96-page cookbook. Yes, I judged this cookbook by its cover. Shame on me! The 1990s saw cookbooks cut into shapes and, from the funky picnic basket cutout to the generic title, I was all set to pass it by, and not bother sharing it with you. I’m so glad I didn’t (even if I do still hate the shape).
Chapters include: Introduction: Memorial Day at the Pond; A Day at the Beach; Hot Time Summer in the City; Indian Summer; A Cross-Country Ski Lunch; An Asian Picnic; California Baja Bake; On the Mediterranean Trail; Backyard Breakfast; A July Fourth Blowout; and a Penthouse Picnic.
Helene briefly shares a couple of tips and pointers, and then dives into the menus. Her menu, “A Day at the Beach,” for example, includes Portobello Mushrooms and Wild Greens Sandwich, Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Sandwich, Avocado Goat Cheese Baguette, Cantaloupe Soup, Vegetable Chips, and Pecan Sandies to serve four. Each menu includes a sweet treat (which I consider mandatory).
Winnie-the-Pooh’s Picnic Cookbook (1997) by Dawn Martin (Amazon) (eBay)
When it’s time for a little smackeral, and you find yourself in an outdoor setting, that “silly, old bear” has a simple assortment of “classic” recipes. I hesitate to term this a “children’s cookbook,” even with the Pooh Bear illustrations and quotations. “The Tea Party Picnic,” for example, includes recipes for Honey-Spiced Tea Punch, Blueberry Heart Scones with Smoked Turkey, Mini Orange-Pecan Muffins with Black Forest Ham, Cranberry-Orange Converse, Waldorf Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Almond Shortbread Rounds, and Raisin Spiced Tea Cake. That sounds like a menu more fit for an adult than the typical child.
Chapters include: A Word about Picnics, Expotition Picnic, Tea Party Picnic, Birthday Party Picnic, Rainy Day Picnic, Kids’ Picnic, and Beach Picnic.
Unlike Pooh Bear’s belly, this is not a large book. At 64 pages and 5.28 x 0.44 x 6.36 inches, it leans more toward the size of Piglet. The introduction includes simple picnic common sense tips, that do feel geared towards children, but all in all, I’d consider this an adult picnic cookbook. You’ll find the kind of picnicky recipes that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day, yet still elevated above a PB&J.
A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors (2017) by Ashley English (Amazon) (eBay)
Discover 20 different ideas to dine in a certain location, with a certain theme. But more than menus, Ashley includes headings “To Make and Do” and “To Behold and Explore.” Each section includes ideas that tie into the overall theme, such as tips for selecting a site and game suggestions. Cookbook readers will enjoy settling into this one, even if some of the games are a little hokey.
Chapters include: Introduction, Picnic Essentials, Spring and Summer, and Fall and Winter. Each chapter breaks down into picnic menus.
Smoky Chai; Egg, Bacon, and Veggie Ramekins; Cardamom, Pistachio, and Citrus Bundt Cake; Moroccan Apple Salad; and Spiced Shortbread are a handful of recipes in the 240-page, 7.52 x 0.87 x 9.3-inch cookbook. From the photography to the recipes, it’s another “step above” kind of picnic book, and with such a creative spin. I think you’ll enjoy this one.
Cookbooks with Picnic Foods and Inspiration
Eating outside makes everything feel better. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting on a park bench, on the porch, or in the sand on the beach rereading a Pearl S. Buck book (because of just love them); these picnic cookbooks will help you create and serve the picnic spread you’ve drooled over in glossy magazines.
This isn’t a stagnant list of picnic-themed cookbooks. Just as I’ve done with my list of Amish cookbooks and my muffins cookbook list, if I’ve missed a fantastic picnic book, please leave a comment below. I’d love to know some of your favorite recipes from them too. Either way, I’ll add it to the cookbook list.
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