Best Eco-Friendly & Healthy Picnic Ideas

Last Update: August 31, 2023

This summer, we’re your official HQ for all things outdoor eating. From family picnics to backyard BBQs, bringing an eco-friendly mindset to your next gathering is easy when you stock up on our essentials from conscious brands and let the season’s bounty inspire your menu. Grab your picnic blanket and let’s get thriving outside.

Picnic Planning Tips

Before crafting the ultimate menu, planning is paramount—here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

picnic planning tips

Location, location, location

This popular real estate motto is also appropriate for picnics. Why? A stellar location sets the mood, and also provides extra support for your group. Bringing the kids along? Look for a park with playgrounds or built-in picnic tables. Adults only? These adventurous folks might be willing to climb stairs or walk longer distances for a spot with a view. Driving? Check on parking—is there an ample-sized lot or street parking only? Also, think outside the box and seek out a patch on the grounds of a nearby museum or college campus for a fresh perspective.

Keep It green

Check to see if your location of choice provides recycling bins. If not, bring a disposable bag to separate recyclable items, then take it back to your own curbside bin or drop it off at a community dump on the way home.

Plan for pest-free fun

A reality of summer is pests are often invited to the party. Show them the door with the best nontoxic sprays and other formulas to keep them at bay. Here are some of the best bug sprays our members love:

  • Earthkind, Stay Away Ants: Keep ants off the picnic blanket with a plant-based repellent. Place the patch nearby while you eat, then take it home to use in cabinets or pantries for up to 60 days.
  • Badger Organic Bug Spray: Just shake and spray for protection from bugs, mosquitoes, and insects. The natural formula uses essential oils like citronella and rosemary to deter unwanted visitors.
  • Aunt Fannie’s Fruit Fly Trap: A travel-ready jar to deter fruit flies with a non-toxic formula that lasts up to 30 days.

If you stick to your own backyard, try citronella candles or an incense stick. Along with personal sprays, be sure to keep any food containers closed when not in use, and avoid setting up shop directly next to standing water, like the shore of a lake or pond.

A Simple Picnic Packing List

In addition to the suggestions above (and our tasty food ideas below), here’s a handy list of picnic supplies you’ll want to bring along.

  • Picnic basket or large shopping totes
  • Cooler with ice
  • Picnic blankets
  • Picnic chairs
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Dinnerware: plates, utensils (including serving utensils), napkins, cups, wine or bottle opener
  • Wet wipes (not just for kids!)
  • Trash bags
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Sports equipment/lawn games

Eco-Friendly Picnic Provisions

eco friendly picnic

Stock your pantry with disposable dinnerware so you’re picnic-ready whenever the mood strikes.

Repurpose Utensils

This variety pack of utensils is made from plants, not petroleum. Each knife, spoon, and fork is high-heat tolerant (up to 200°F) and compostable.

Repurpose Heavy Duty Plates

Durable plates are a must when eating outdoors. These plates (a 20-pack) are compostable, cut-proof, and BPA-free.

Thrive Market Reclaimed Plastic Garbage Bags

thrive market garbage bags

Cleaning up a mess is easy with our innovative garbage bags made using post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic and plastic scraps left over from manufacturing. Designed with a convenient drawstring closure, each bag is BPA-free and fragrance-free.

To-Go Container

Transfer your fresh dishes in reusable containers like this one from U Konserve. The 50-ounce size is great for fruit salads, dips, and other creations.

Stasher Reusable Stand Up Bag

stasher bag

Prep for less waste at the park by transferring snacks into reusable bags before you head out the door. This large option from Stasher holds up to 1 gallon.

6 Picnic Food Ideas, Snack Edition

For meal planning, take a page from Ina Garten’s book. The popular Food Network star has often remarked how she makes one or two things and buys the rest. With a simpler mindset, you can focus your efforts on making key dishes to share while stocking up on snacks to pass around the lawn.

Thrive Market Organic Greek Olive Mix

Not only does this Greek olive mix give you a variety of pesticide-free Kalamata and green olives, they’ve been marinated in aromatic wild herbs, red wine vinegar, water, citric acid, and sea salt. Just open and serve!

P. Balistreri Salami Point Loma, Rosemary & Garlic


Slice up P. Balistreri’s artisanal pork salami for an effortless charcuterie platter. Each bite is seasoned with garlic, sea salt, and white wine.

SpudLove Organic Thick Cut Potato Chips

Don’t forget a bag of crunchy potato chips. This member-favorite is made in small batches with organic spuds and keeps things simple with a touch of sea salt. You can also spice up the menu with the jalapeño flavor.

Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies

This snack pack is perfect for smaller guests. Each box contains 12 bags to give everyone their own portion of cheesy goodness.

Thrive Market Organic Medjool Dates

In addition to olives and salami, add a bag of organic California dates to your snack tray for the ultimate no-cook appetizer.

Revive Kombucha Sampler

For a special sip, pack a cooler with Revive’s kombucha sampler pack featuring helpful probiotics alongside refreshing flavor combos like cherry hibiscus and mango orange.

Healthy Picnic Recipes

For easy, healthy, and travel-ready fare, stick to our list of picnic-ready dishes.

Zucchini and Lemon Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is classic picnic food for a reason—it’s make-ahead perfection. This version will wake up your taste buds with bright flavors like lemon zest, grilled zucchini, and tangy goat cheese.

Creamy Avocado Dip

Nothing screams summer like a tricked out dip. Bonus: it’s gluten- and dairy-free. Instead of sour cream, this lighter recipe features creamy avocado along with cilantro and garlic powder.

Vegan Pimento Cheese

This Southern staple is usually made with grated cheddar, mayo, and pimento peppers, but our vegan version uses plant-based ingredients like soaked cashews and nutritional yeast for a bold flavor everyone can enjoy.

Grilled Shrimp Louie Salad

For the best flavor, grill the shrimp in advance and toss this hearty salad on-site so none of the greens wilt before you dig in.

White Bean and Herb Zucchini Noodles

white bean zucchini salad

Ditch the extra carbs and load up on zucchini and white beans tossed with plenty of fresh herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Watermelon Gazpacho

watermelon gazpacho

Soup in the summer? Only if it’s chilled. This recipe uses peak in-season ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, and spicy jalapeño.

Tomato Olive Oil Salad

tomato salad

It doesn’t get much simpler than roughly chopping ripe heirloom tomatoes, tossing them in high quality olive oil, and sprinkling them with sea salt. Done and done.

Easy Rosé Ice Pops

If someone’s bringing a cooler, make this adults-only cocktail recipe that’s extra fun to eat and makes good use of your favorite pink wine.

Paleo Tahini Swirled Brownies

For a sweet ending, look no further than paleo-friendly brownies made with nutty tahini, almond flour, and honey for sweetness.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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