Easy low waste picnic dinner

Easy low waste picnic dinner

that you (and your kids!) will love!


It’s summer time in Santa Cruz and that means SO MANY PICNICS!  We’ve got evening concerts at the beach. Potluck parties at friends’ homes.  Lots of lunches and snacks at the beach. And dinners in the park.


In this post I’ll walk you through a low waste, easy picnic dinner that you and your kids will LOVE.  And you can pull it together in an hour or less!


Last Friday was a picnic dinner in the park for an awards ceremony for my daughters’ junior lifeguards summer camp.  Lots of families on picnic blankets with their dinners. And LOTS and LOTS of trash. Plastic forks. Plastic cups. Plastic takeout containers.  You get the picture.


But a picnic doesn’t have to equal trash!  I fed 9 of us – my family plus another that was visiting – with a super low waste and balanced dinner.  And I spent no more than an hour prepping this simple meal for 9.

So read on and get yer easy low waste picnic started!


Here’s what we ate on our easy low waste picnic dinner:


-Local fresh BAGELS.  Lots of bagel shops will fill your own bag with bagels.  Our local one doesn’t but they do use paper bags instead of plastic.  We reuse or recycle or compost it afterwards (if the bag gets soiled).  

-Local fresh bread.  Also came in paper bags, but lots of bakeries will let you put a loaf into your own bag!


We loaded up the bagels and bread with:

-homemade hummus.  (See my super simple recipe below)

-cream cheese in paper and tinfoil – we don’t normally have this in the fridge, but got it for some special something or other.

-butter in compostable paper.

-tomato slices.


-homemade salsa in a jar.


Also, we brought:

-homemade popcorn with butter and nutritional yeast.

-homemade kale salad (recipe below). 

-strawberries with brown sugar for dessert. 

-beer in cans for the grownups 🙂 with cozies.


-plus we had some chips in a bag.  You could avoid that trash if you ask for some in your own container from a taqueria!


Here’re the supplies we brought for our easy low waste picnic dinner:


-cloth napkins for everyone

-camping/small forks and spoons and butter knives

-small camping bowls

-bread knife

-small lightweight cutting board

-water bottles filled with water


We cut the bread and bagels while we were at the park on our cutting board.  We also sliced up the tomatoes and avocados at the park. And we ate the bagels and bread without plates – just in our hands.  Same for the popcorn. The bowls were perfect for the kale salad and strawberries. I sliced the strawberries and made the kale salad and dressing at home.  When I slice up strawberries for the kiddos, there’s a lot less wasted fruit. 


A dozen bagels and half a loaf of bread plus the popcorn, salad, and strawberries were plenty of food for the 9 of us.  


We carried everything in backpacks on a 20 minute walk to the park.  The food was pretty well secured in jars and covered bowls. I’d recommend keeping liquidy foods in a jar to minimize spills.  The kale salad was in a bowl with a beeswax wrap on top, and I put the dressing on once we got to the park. The strawberries were in a jar, and the brown sugar in another small jar.  The kids sprinkled the brown sugar on themselves after they finished their dinner. Popcorn was in a bowl that came with it’s own lid (plastic, but pretty handy!).


And here are the easy peasy recipes we used on our picnic:


Easy homemade hummus:

-2 cups chickpeas (we cook them in our pressure cooker for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on if we soaked them overnight or not). 

-⅓ cup veg or olive oil.

-⅓ cup water (or less, if your blender is super powerful).

-¼ cup lemon juice.

-¼ cup tahini.

-1 tsp or less of salt.

-optional: garlic, cumin.


Blend everything except the water in a blender.  Add the water slowly until you get the consistency you like.  


Easy, scrumptious kale salad that EVERYONE likes

-raw kale torn into bite sized pieces (curly or lacinato are our favorite types of kale).

-finely sliced red onion.

-optional:  shredded carrots, slivered almonds.

-dressing is about equal parts veg oil, soy sauce, and lemon juice

-mix dressing, pour it over salad ingredients, and toss.  


This salad keeps GREAT for a few days in the fridge with the dressing on.


So that’s our easy low waste picnic dinner from the other night.  Are you working on a low waste home? What are you picnicking on these days?  Let me know and thanks for reading!


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