Is there anything more classic than a summer picnic? What better way to relax and take in the beautiful weather than a day in the park, on the beach or even on your patio or lawn?
Whether you’re planning a romantic date, spending quality time with friends or family or just soaking in the sun on your own, there’s no need to spend hours prepping in a hot kitchen when you can pick up amazing local foods to stock your picnic basket.
So pack up your blanket and peruse this list of picnic ideas (plus locally owned spots throughout the city where you can pick up the goods). It's just the tip of the delicious iceberg in terms of easy picnic options that also support small home-grown businesses.
Cheese and Charcuterie
Is there anything easier, or more classic, than cheese and crackers? Sure you can pick up your own assortment of meats, local cheeses and accompaniments. But there are also plenty of venues that will do all the work for you with just a few days notice. Here are a few of our favorites:
Salads, dips, spreads
Sometimes noshing is really all you want. Or maybe you'd prefer a fresh, more healthful picnic. The prepared foods section at local grocers is a great spot to find both. You'll find pre-made salads, chopped veggies, olives, spreads and dips (think spinach dip, hummus and guacamole). Best of all, you won’t have to lift a finger to prepare them or deal with the dirty dishes when you get home. You can’t lose with these spots:
Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative
100 E. Capitol Dr., (414) 961-2597
2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View (414) 755-3202
7590 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, (262) 242-0426
7000 W. State St., Wauwatosa (414) 778-2012
When it comes to easy hand-held items, nothing beats a great sandwich. It’s also the perfect opportunity to leave the assembly to the experts. You’ll find delicious options at every one of these spots.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Deli
6125 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, (414) 897-7987
Riley’s Sandwich Co.
4473 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood, (414) 616-1811
733 E. Clarke St., (414) 264-7933
Folks have been taking fried chicken on picnics for...well, probably as long as fried chicken has existed. Part of what makes it a great choice is that You could make it from scratch, but why not leave it to the experts? Not into fried? Rotisserie chicken makes a great picnic option as well! (here’s where to find the best of the best).
Smoked meats are delicious. And when you can order it up complete with sides, it’s also convenient for an impromptu picnic. Pack up some paper towels and some handy wipes, and you’re all set.
Bagels and spreads
Who says picnics have to be at lunch or dinner? Brunch picnics are just as fun. Just pick up some bagels, spreads and maybe some fresh fruit and you’re all set.
Pie. It makes everything better. And that includes your next picnic. Whether it’s easy-to-transport hand-pies, pasties or a full-blown pie, these spots have you covered.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.