We may be in the middle of a freakishly late snow storm here in NYC, but spring is actually upon us! And with that, picnic weather. I love picnics because they’re casual, they work for large and small groups alike, and there’s food involved. The food is the center of this type of outing (just like my life) so I understand the art of picking out the best picnic food.

Rich and I live close to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, so we often pack up a basket of picnic fare, a blanket and some of our favorite books, bringing the pup along if we feel like guarding our plates. Other times we meet up with friends and all bring a little something, chilling with music and good conversation.

I’m not really into making food myself for picnics. It ends up being hard to handle when you’re outdoors, which breaks my ultimate picnic rule that everything should be able to be eaten without a plate, if necessary. I opt for grabbing snacks and prepared items at the grocery store. Here’s what I get to build the perfect picnic spread.

best food to pack for picnic

Charcuterie & Cheese Plate | You can find these in the deli aisle of your grocery store. I like one that has a variety of cured meats, cheese and olives.

Crudité Platter | Grab one of these plates from the produce section of your grocery store. They usually come with a dip or hummus, so it’s like a two for one.

Sparkling Water & Lemonade | Lemonade is a drink that’s totally synonymous with picnics. I like to get big bottles of it along with flavored sparking waters. Each is great on its own, but also perfect for mixing with alcohol.

Crackers, Chips or Toasted Bread | Again, shoot for something prepared. Don’t go cutting up a baguette outside – it’s not gonna go well. I like a box of classic water crackers and toasted bagel chips so they’ll go with any dips or the charcuterie plate.

Fresh Berries | Berries are the perfect fruit for picnicking because you can grab and go without the need to cut them up. And they come in their own little cardboard container.

Nuts & Chocolate | They’re easy to share, plus everyone loves a little chocolate. I like a medley of nuts like classic trail mix or chocolate covered almonds and pretzels.

Mini Pastries & Desserts | Forget serving up a whole pie or cake. Grab mini versions from the bakery section of your grocery store for bite-sited treats.

Follow You Must Love Food on Instagram for more food and recipe inspiration.