4 Picnics on a Budget

Who doesn’t love a picnic? Warm weather is made for getting out of the kitchen and away from that hot stove. It’s a chance to enjoy fresh air and food, while connecting with good friends and family. Here are four suggestions for picnics that are delicious, easy on the budget, and will motivate you to get your grub on: 

1. Entertain in your Own Backyard

Entertaining at your own home - but with a twist - can be a fun and easy way to bring the party outside to enjoy the great weather. Try this combination of plates for a crowd-pleasing picnic:

Barbecue Beef Brisket

This recipe turns an inexpensive cut of beef into succulent steak. It will give the guests something to rave about. Prepare and serve from a crockpot for no mess and added flavor.

Baked beans

They’s nothing easier than opening a can. Borrow another crockpot, and serve them piping hot. These are served best on top of a hotdog or burger.

Fresh fruit

Buy whatever’s in season, because that’s where the deals are, plus it tastes great!

Green salad

Keep it simple and fresh. Skip any expensive additions like sliced almonds (unless you feel like splurging). A salad is a salad, but you can spruce it up with a variety of dressings of the guest’s choice.


Adding fun but toppings will make this simple dessert super special, and its not super pricy. See our pointers for making homemade ice cream (without an ice cream maker!) here

2. Hike to Your Favorite Picnic Spot

Think lightweight food packed in hard containers to keep freshness. The added hike will make the food even more refreshing. A couple of ideas for a picnic on a hike are:

  • Carrots and celery with ranch dressing
  • Hummus served with pita chips or pretzels
  • Apples or grapes
  • Sandwiches - Prepare everyone’s favorite. PB&Js holds up well on hikes.
  • Cookies or brownies...or both

3. A Classic Picnic with a Mexican Twist

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Hot dogs

Make them Sonoran style by serving them with bacon, pinto beans, and grilled onions. Then add chopped fresh onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and jalapeño sauce. Add mayo and mustard as you wish.

Corn on the Cob

When corn’s in season, the price and the taste can't be beat. Try this recipe for corn on the cob served Mexican street-vendor style, with mayo and Cotija cheese.


Potato salad is everyone’s favorite. It’s easy to make, and the ingredients are cheap. Venture in a little bit of a gourmet direction with one of our favorite summer salads. Or try a version of a Mexican style chopped salad.

Agua Fresca

Try preparing an agua fresca, the classic refreshing Mexican drink. Or just add mint and sliced strawberries to lemonade.

4. Our Favorite Kind of Picnic...

...is the one you have the day you move into your new home. Nothing beats sitting on the living room floor of your new digs, eating off paper plates, surrounded by unpacked boxes. Pizza or take-out for won’t set you back too many dollars. Celebrate by opening a bottle of wine or some sparkling cider. It will be a picnic to remember.