Food Safety for Picnics and Camping

Packing a picnic is a popular summertime activity. Where is your favorite place to have a picnic? Maybe it is in your very own backyard, the beach, a local park, baseball field or concert venue! My personal favorite is camping where every meal, every day is a picnic!

Picnics can include finger foods like sandwiches or hamburgers for grilling and even eggs on a cast iron skillet over a campfire. Whatever shape your picnic takes food safety must not be forgotten. In order to prevent tummy aches and an early picnic departure it is important to remember safe food practices. The same rules apply on a park bench as a kitchen table and packing food in a cooler as we would our refrigerator/freezer.

Three of the most important things to remember when packing a picnic are:

First, keep dirty hand at bay! Kids will have been playing in the dirt and sand, make sure to pack plenty of sanitation wipes.

Second, keep cold things cold! Bacteria begin to grow when cold food becomes warm. There is about a two hour window before this can occur. Make sure to pack plenty of ice packs, keep the cooler in your vehicle instead of the trunk and look for a shady place for the once you arrive.

Third, keep raw meat separate from other items. Place raw meat in tightly sealed bags at the bottom of the cooler so as it thaws nothing drips on to prepared items. You will also want to pack plenty of plates and silverware so you can prepare raw meats on separate surfaces from cheese, veggies, fruit, and buns. 

The key to all of this is preparation. You can reduce assembly time and hands touching food by cleaning fruit, cutting veggies, and making sandwiches ahead of time.

It is surprising how quickly a cooler and picnic basket can fill up. Many times our picnic spots require a long walk where carrying too many things is not ideal. I have learned a few tricks on my many camping trips to help with this.

- Instead of sanitation wipes, soak paper towels with hand soap, ring them out slightly and freeze in a large bag. The bag acts as an ice pack in the cooler. Remove a few minutes before use to thaw out, when done allow them to dry on the table or tree limb and they make a great fire starter.

- Freeze your drink! Frozen water bottles, juices boxes and sports drinks save room in the cooler over ice packs and will thaw slowly allowing for a cool drink all day.

- Pack frozen fruit for a sweet, healthy treat that everyone can enjoy including teething babies!  You can find a variety of Our Family/Spartan Brand frozen fruit at your local Family Fare.

- Skip the ice pack and use a bag of frozen veggies they will thaw by the time you reach your destination and are easy to cook up on a cast iron skillet to go with hamburgers.  There are many Our Family/Spartan Brand choices at Family Fare.



"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."


Louise Bilek Spartannash Health and Wellness Specialist
Louise Bilek – Healthy Foodie 

Louise is one of the Health & Wellness Specialist’s at SpartanNash who is also a Certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer. Louise is passionate about living well and teaching others, especially children, how to make healthy food choices and be physically active.