3 Must-Do’s for a Summer Picnic Filled with Food and Fun

summer, holidays, vacation, happy people concept - group of friends having picnic and making barbecue on the beach

While summer is made for family reunions, 4th of July celebrations, camping and cooking outside; it’s not a time we think of getting ill or putting on a few extra pounds.  Yet, either of these can happen easily if we aren’t smart about our choices.  With summer gatherings filled with food and fun, these three tips will leave you and your guests safe and healthy this summer.

Pack a Meat Thermometer

Chefs are not the only ones that need to be using a meat thermometer!  Meat thermometers are an inexpensive way to guarantee our meat is cooked to the appropriate temperature to prevent the threat of food-borne illness.  While summer celebrations often involve food on the grill, did you know that preventing illness can be as simple as using a meat thermometer?  There will be no guessing as to when the meat is ready to be pulled off the grill and no returned burgers because they are pink in the middle.

Purchase a meat thermometer in the kitchen department at your favorite store and use these minimum temperatures as your guide:

Beef, Pork, Veal or Lamb Steaks and Chops 145°F and allow a 3-minute rest
Ground Meats (Burgers, etc) 160°F
All Poultry (Breasts, Whole Bird, Legs, Thighs, Wings) 165°F
Fish and Shellfish 145°F

Source: USDA

Pack a Portable Sink

Another safe step in food handling is handwashing.  You can’t see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness.  And picnic shelters and parks may have minimal access to sinks for handwashing which is a key step in preventing illness.   What do you do?  Bring your own portable sink.  Pack a gallon or two (depending on the amount of people) of water in a clear container and set it out in the sun for a little warming while the gathering is happening.  Then, when it’s handwashing time, just pour some of the warm water into a small bucket with some hand or dish soap and clean up hands before preparing and even eating food.  Sanitizers and hand wipes can also be helpful here.  And don’t forget the paper towels.

Serve a Calorie-Free Beverage

There’s nothing like a cold beverage at our summer outdoor celebrations where the weather is warmer making us thirstier, but that beverage doesn’t have to add calories and weight to the waistline.  To save a significant amount of calories at your next summer gathering, serve up a summer beverage lightened up with low-calorie sweetener, like aspartame.  This smart choice may save up to 100-200 calories per glass, leaving kids and adults feeling refreshed and ready to make this summer a memorable one.

Try these calorie-free beverages this summer:

Lemonade with Blackberries
Strawberry Limeade
Cranberry Spritzer Punch



Jen Haugen, RDAn award-winning dietitian, Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, is the author of the new book, “The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden.”  Jen specializes in inspiring moms to create the recipe to a nourishing life through gardening, good food, family, and faith. Her TEDx Talk, “How Moms Can Change the World”, features two simple ideas that can transform a family. Connect with her at www.jenhaugen.com or on Twitter @jenhaugen.

Items of Interest

June 29, 2016 Lifestyle Advice