Portable Foods (for Picnics, Kids’ Sports Nights…)

For the past two-and-a-half years, my family has been doing Taekwondo together. For a large chunk of that, my kids have been in different back-to-back classes, all scheduled right around dinner time. We could either eat way too early, way too late…or eat at class. And for a long time, that’s what we did. I packed up a full dinner, including a main dish, fruits, veggies, drinks, and sometimes a treat, and off we went. Each child would eat their own (individually-packaged, typically…we ❤ Bento boxes) meal while the other was in class. It worked.



After awhile, the strain of coming up with different, kid-friendly, portable, non-messy foods and also the seriously reduced all-family dinners became too much of a struggle for us, so now we eat way too early (because it works). But occasionally, when we’re running late and things just don’t come together on time, we still take dinner with us to class. Here’s a break-down of how I do it.

Also see my Tuesday Tip on 60 Ways to Use Mason Jars in Your Kitchen for some suggestions on things to pack that you might not otherwise consider portable. Invest in a couple of good Thermoses, Bento boxes, a few sporfs (spoon-knife-fork all-in-one utensils), reusable water bottles, and an easy-to tote cooler, and you’ll always be ready for dinner on the go!


Main dishes:

Veggie sides: Veggies are easier to pack in summer, when there is an abundance of fresh produce. As a rule, I stay away from frozen veg (especially the small ones, like peas and corn!). Packing a small jar of Ranch dip or hummus makes the veggies much more enticing for little ones.

  • mini peppers, mini cukes, grape or cherry tomatoes, baby carrots
  • cut veg: celery or carrot sticks, cucumber, zucchini or yellow squash, pepper strips, cauliflower or broccoli florets, sugar snap peas
  • black olives (well-drained)
  • layered salads in a Mason jar
  • corn on the cob (cut ears in half to make them easy to pack)
  • cowboy caviar, guacamole, hummus, or salsa with tortilla chips
  • Caprese skewers (fresh mozzarella boccoccini, grape tomatoes, and basil leaves)

Fruits: The sturdier and more portable the fruit is, the better! You definitely don’t want to take fruits that are mushy, juicy, or that will stain. If you pack sturdier berries in a hard-sided container, they should be fine. Bonus points for adding a small container of fruit dip or peanut butter for dipping.

  • apples or apple slices
  • orange smiles
  • mandarin oranges
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • grapes
  • raisins, craisins, and other dried fruits
  • melon wedges
  • fruit skewers

Drinks: To keep your crew hydrated, whether it be at a picnic on a hot summer’s day, or to make sure they’re replacing sweat from sports practice, the ultimate tip is to pack plenty of water. Think double what you’d normally drink at home – being thirsty is no fun.

Treats: Sometimes dinner portions just don’t cut it, especially when taking dinner to sports practice. Having hungry kids complain all the way home about being starving is not conducive to mom-sanity. Here’s a few suggestions for packing snacks to nip the whining in the bud.


About Cooking for the Fam

Katie and Theresa are sisters-in-law who are passionate about food, passionate about family, and passionate about making and sharing food with their families. The Fam needs to eat. Make it good!
This entry was posted in Meals, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Portable Foods (for Picnics, Kids’ Sports Nights…)

  1. Thank you for these ideas 🙂
    please check my website for some recipe ideas at http://www.lazymomcooking.com


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