Picnic Packing Checklist

Who doesn’t love a picnic? But unpacking your basket and realizing you forgot an essential―not so much. Use this checklist to make sure you’ve got it all.

Pier 1 Melamine Dinner Plates grass butterfly stick
Photo: Yunhee Kim

Food and Beverages

  • Casual foods, preferably sandwiches or other things you can eat without utensils

    Avoid foods with mayonnaise. Pack everything in lightweight, resealable containers.

  • Ice pack or bags of ice

    Food can spoil and harbor bacteria when not stored at the right temperature. Keep everything cold with refreezable ice packs, or fill a couple of resealable bags with ice cubes: They'll chill food as it's transported. Add ice cubes to drinks during the picnic. Empty out whatever remains before you go, for a lighter trip home.

  • Drinks

    Bring an assortment of kid-friendly and adult beverages, such as bottled water and juice.

  • Condiments

    Some ketchups and mustards come in mini jars that are small enough to throw in your tote. (Keep the jars to refill at home for your next picnic.)

  • Salt and pepper

    Allow everyone to season their food to their liking on the spot.


  • Cups and plates

    Whether you choose eco-friendly paper, plastic, or bamboo, lightweight, stackable dishes make packing easy. Tip: Stalk Market plates ($4 for 15) are made from renewable sugar cane fiber.

  • Utensils, if needed

    Opt for reusable utensils.

  • Serving utensils, if needed

    If you're serving salads, you may need tongs or serving spoons.

  • Cutting knife

    Look for one with a cover for safe transporting. Or wrap the blade in a kitchen towel.

  • Small cutting board

    It's always handy to have a firm surface for slicing meat, cheese, and bread.

  • Corkscrew or bottle opener

    Or both.

  • Napkins

    If you prefer not to use cloth, look for ones made of recycled paper or other materials.


  • Trash bags

    Don't leave a mess behind. Dispose of everything you bring to the picnic site.

  • Moist towelettes

    When you don't have access to running water, these make it easy to wash up after eating.

  • Paper towels

    Keep a roll on hand for mopping up spills and wiping bowls, containers, plates, and utensils before you pack them back up.


  • Blanket

    It should be large enough to comfortably hold all your picnic-goers and food. A light one that folds small is a bonus.

  • Tote, backpack, or picnic basket

    Stow everything in a lightweight, roomy carrier.

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