Seven last minute picnic ideas

The British summer can be a little unpredictable, so when the sun comes out, getting outdoors with a picnic hamper filled with delicious treats is the best way to enjoy it. With our top tips and nifty shortcuts you can save time in the kitchen and maximise picnic-ing potential.

  1. Simple salads

    A simple, no-cook salad is ideal to throw together in just a few moments. Leafy salads tend to wilt if left too long, so keep soft salad ingredients and the dressing separate until ready to serve. A ready-made dressing is ideal for this, or mix your own in a jam jar, just shake well before serving. 

    For something a bit more robust, this Mexican-inspired tomato and corn salad can all be tossed together in advance so that the zingy flavours can mingle together.

  2. Style it out

    Whatever you buy or prepare for your picnic, make sure you eat in style and take a selection of boards, bowls and jugs to serve everything from. It makes even the simplest spread feel more special.

  3. Eggcellent

    From fritattas to sandwiches, eggs are versatile, easy to cook, and you're always likely to have a few at home. Hard-boiled eggs only take 7 minutes to cook, then can be chopped and added to salads, mixed with mayo for a sandwich filling, or simply eaten on their own dipped in ground black pepper. 

    If you have have an hour to spare, you can whip up a quick tortilla or Spanish omelette to take with you. This artichoke tortilla is perfect in bite-sized pieces, or serve up a wedge of this cheesy pea frittata.

  4. Quick dips

    A classic houmous is a real crowd-pleaser. Simply drain and rinse 400g chickpeas then blitz in a food processor with 3 tsp tahini and a dash water until smooth. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, the juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of paprika. Blitz again, adding more water if too thick. For other speedy options, this red pepper and feta dip is perfect paired with warmed flatbreads, or this creamy feta and pesto dip works brilliantly with crudités, breadsticks and cured meats.

  5. Freezer friends

    Make the most of ingredients in the freezer with handy recipes that can be baked from frozen. These ciabatta bites are packed with flavour from roasted Mediterranean vegetables and oozy mozzarella, all from the freezer. Simply bake and skewer together before taking outside to eat hot or cold.  

  6. Jar stars

    Dig out saved jam jars and Kilner jars from the back of the cupboard - easy to fill, stack and transport, they're perfect for packing up on picnics. These cauliflower rice salad jars bring some tropical sunshine with a fruity mango dressing, and are vegan and gluten-free, too. For some added colour, try these colourful pesto salad pots, packed with rainbow roasted veg and crumbly Greek salad cheese. Jars are great for puds as well, try layering up these cherry cheesecake pots for a real treat to finish things off.

  7. Infused drinks

    Add some easy flavour to your picnic drinks by infusing sparkling water with fruits and herbs; this is perfect for a picnic as the transport time allows the flavours to develop before you're ready to serve. Try this sparkling grapefruit, lime and rosemary drink for starters, then mix and match with your own favourite flavours.