The Ultimate Picnic Checklist with PDF: Pack Plan Play!

Indulging in a picnic is a celebration of life’s simple pleasures – basking in the outdoors, relishing delicious bites, and toasting under the warm sun. The only hitch? Forgetting a crucial picnic item and realising home or the store is too distant.

The remedy?  Pause and use a picnic checklist.  Drawing from my extensive experience on countless picnics to various destinations with my family, we’re here to have you lounging at your picnic spot in no time with our detailed picnic packing list.

You can even snag a PDF copy for quick reference on day trips or lunch breaks during lengthier journeys.

In this Article on Things to Take on a Picnic You Will Learn:

  1. Essential picnic items
    • What to include in your DIY basket
    • Staying healthy
    • Optional extras
  2. Easy picnic food and drinks
    • Five meal ideas
    • Condiments
    • Snacks
    • Deserts
    • Picnic drinks
  3. Games and activities for the whole family
  4. Taking the pets

A cane DIY picnic basket filled food and wine
Do you know someone who would find this useful?
Please share this with them.
Image by James Riess from Pixabay

This post by Tips 4 Trips contains affiliate links*.  This means I may receive a small commission if you click on these links. Learn more at the bottom of this post.

The Picnic Essentials Checklist for What to Take on a Picnic:

These are the things to bring on a picnic for it to run smoothly.  Let’s start with creating a simple picnic setup.

The DIY Picnic Basket

For you picnic basket you can buy a ready-made set or fill a basket or cooler with the following picnic items list:

  • Picnic blanket – even if you plan on using a picnic table the blanket is handy. You can use it as a tablecloth, a place for babies to crawl, kids to sprawl out or as a last resort if you can’t get a table.
  • Picnic set.  Mine is permanently prepared to just fill with food and drinks.  I use one that is attached to a cooler bag*.  My set includes:
    • Plates
      • I prefer reusable plastic but you could use paper
    • Cutlery
    • Glasses
      • Again plastic is better in case of breakage
    • Chopping board
    • Serviettes/Napkins
    • Bottle opener
    • Serrated knife
  • For BBQ’s
    • Tongs,
    • Spatula
    • Newspaper (to clean the BBQ)
    • Possibly alfoil (to line the BBQ)
  • Food
    • Keep reading for picnic  meal ideas
    • Don’t forget condiments to go with your meal ideas
    • Add in freezer bricks so your food won’t spoil
  • Water and drinks

Staying Clean and Healthy

Other handy picnic necessities include:

  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Wipes
    • To clean hands and dirty picnic tables
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Tissues
  • At least two empty plastic rubbish bags
    • One  for rubbish (if there are no bins please take your rubbish with you)
    • The other is for dirty plates etc.
  • Freezer bricks to keep your food cool
  • Depending on the weather, a jumper/sweater for each person or a rain jacket
Boy waiting at picnic table under cover with BBQ's
Picnic facilities

Optional Extras

To complete your picnic supplies list include:

Top Trip Tip: You don’t need a fancy picnic basket just something to keep things cool and a container or small storage box for all your crockery (plastic is better but not necessary), cutlery and utensils

Picnic Food and Drinks Checklist

Your picnic is not complete without food or drinks.  I am going to share with you my top five favourite picnic food ideas, plus snacks, deserts and drinks that I pack into my picnic basket.

5 Easy Picnic Meal Ideas

man and son sitting on at their own picnic gear of folding table and chairs in park
Picnic in the park

1: Quick, Easy and On the Go

My favourite and cheap spur of the moment picnic meal is cold cuts, cheese and fresh bread. 

Grab your picnic basket and make a quick stop along the way at your favourite gourmet (even regular) store.  Buy your preferred:

  • Cold cuts
  • Pre-sliced cheese
  • Fresh bread rolls
    • You can choose a loaf but it’s trickier to cut.
  • Drinks

Top Trip Tip: Don’t forget to have a freezer bricks in your cooler bag

2. BBQ

Many parks now have free gas BBQ’s, make the most of them.

Instead of the cold cuts grab either:

  • Sausages
  • Hamburger patties
  • Steak
  • Chops

Top Trip Tip: Don’t forget to pack your BBQ utensils: tongs, spatula, scraper and some newspaper (to clean the BBQ).  Some people also like to line the BBQ with alfoil or a BBQ liner.

3. Chicken and Salad

Another quick and easy option is buy a cooked chicken and a ready-made salad:

  • Green salad
  • Potato salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Rice salad

Top Trip Tip: To make it easy to manage during your picnic, break the chicken at home and then put it into a container or ask for it be cut into eighths when you buy it. 

4. Zucchini Slice

These take a little forward planning but they are really tasty and a great way to hide a heap of vegetables if you have fussy eaters.  Plus, they can be served warm or cold.

NOTE: I’ve included my Zucchini Slice recipe in the Picnic Packing List PDF

To keep them warm wrap the dish in towels or use a heat pack (the ones you use for sore muscles) and put it into a separate cool box – now a hot box.

Top Trip Tip: Don’t forget to pre-cut the serving slices before you leave home and pack a spatula to serve

5. Gourmet Sandwiches

This one to do before you leave home.  Start with either fresh bread rolls or family size crusty loaf.  Then fill with one of the gourmet sandwich filling ideas:

  • Pulled pork
  • Ham with mustard pickle
  • Roast meats with tomato relish
  • Tuna onion and mayonnaise
  • Chicken and guacamole
  • Curried egg salad

Picnic Condiments

These are sauces and dressings that make your picnic meal delicious, choose what works for you.

  • Butter/margarine
  • Tomato sauce or ketchup
  • Salad dressing
  • Relish
  • Mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Drinks for a Picnic

I always take a bottle of water for each of us.

Depending on the mood/occasion add:

  • A bottle of wine
  • Stubbies of beer
  • Soft drink in individual cans
  • 100% juice boxes for the kids

Top Trip Tip: Be aware if there are any drinking alcohol restrictions at your picnic location

Picnic Snack Ideas and Deserts

To complete your food I like to bring to a picnic in the park snacks and deserts.  This just makes the whole experience relaxing and if you have to wait for a BBQ or others to arrive some snacks are great.


If you want nibbles before your meal these are some simple snack ideas::

  • Dips
  • Variety of cheeses
  • Crackers
  • Cut carrot and celery sticks
  • Potato chips (crisps)

For some hot food ideas:

  • Mini pies
  • Quiches
  • Homemade Sausage rolls

Note: My Sausage Roll recipe includes hidden vegetables it’s on the Picnic Checklist PDF

Top Trip Tip: To keep foods warm use a separate cooler box/Eski for hot foods or wrap the hot food with towels to help hold in the heat.


Again for desert I just keep things simple.  I like to just pop in some chocolates.  But cupcakes and slices work really well as they don’t require cutting or a plate.

NOTE: Check out my Weetbix Chocolate Slice included in the Picnic Packing List PDF

For a healthy alternative include some freshly cut fruits or get creative and make fruit kebabs.

Check out my Weetbix Chocolate Slice included in the Picnic Packing List PDF

Packing Picnic Activities for Kids

Kids just can’t sit back and enjoy their surroundings they need to stay active so include a few small but energetic games to take on your picnic like:

Taking Pets on Picnics

If you’re a dog owner, you often want to be able to take your pet with you.  Before you head off double check the park’s website to see if dogs are allowed.

man and son at a picnic table in the park with dog
Picnic with dogs

If they are then pack:

  • Leash
  • Water bowl
  • Food and bowl
  • Poo bags

If you are driving to your picnic location don’t forget to secure your pet in the car with a pet car restraint*.

So, there you have it – your ticket to picnic perfection!  Armed with our checklist and a sprinkle of family picnic wisdom from my adventures, you’re all set to embark on outdoor escapades filled with laughter, good eats, and maybe a quirky game or two.  

Now, grab your blanket, pack your favourite treats, and let the outdoor relaxation commence!

Continue Planning for Your Picnic

Depending on where you are planning to have your picnic and what you are going to do during your picnic you may find these additional checklists helpful.

Or if you would like something a little bit different and out of the ordinary consider an:

⇓  PIN THIS  ⇓


  • Image Credits:
  • As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchase
    • This means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link, however it does not cost you any extra to purchase through these links.
    • For more information please visit my Disclaimer Page and Privacy Policy.

Similar Posts