Picnic Essentials For Little Fingers (And a No-Trash Footprint)

In Canada, taking advantage of every temperate day is what we do. Above zero? It's picnic time, and it doesn't stop until the numbers turn into minus again. But organizing the eats when preschoolers and babies are involved can feel overwhelming, especially when you aren't into prepackaged foods, paper plates, and your three-year-old refuses to try a sandwich. Well it just so happened that my friend, Jeanna and I met up for a picnic with our kids and it went SO well, I made a few mental notes for next time because I want a repeat! Here's what I packed...


...all in this insulated cooler bag:

  • a large, patterned tablecloth (patterned because if anything stains, it's less noticeable; and a tablecloth rather than a terry towel because grass and bark bits shake right off)
  • cloth napkins
  • a couple bamboo charcuterie-style platters, in lieu of plates
  • Tupperware containers of chopped veggies, fruits, edamame, and pepitas 
  • water bottles with ice, which also acted as my ice packs (do juice if you prefer)
  • hardboiled eggs
  • hummus
  • brie cheese in a container and a baguette in brown paper to be recycled later
  • a cheese knife, the only piece of cutlery I needed, though you could pack appetizer picks
  • a washable, reusable bag into which I could toss the boards and napkins afterward
  • one Tupperware container to act as the compost bin for rinds etc.

I did not pack:

  • trash bags. DON'T NEED EM when you're opting for reusable.
  • wet wipes. Pour some water on a cloth napkin and bam, you've got one.

You might want to pack:

  • a bluetooth speaker
  • a portable feeding chair if your baby is grabby

I probably didn't need an insulated bag for this little park jaunt but it will serve me well at the beach. Jeanna's sturdy rattan bag was perfect for the day and really says picnic season.  


When you're keeping track of little ones or helping a baby along, prepping everything to be ready-to-eat is key.


Here's Paris, surveying what he might like to start with. You might wonder, what's with the boards? I don't love them *just* because merchandising the healthy stuff makes it more appealing-- it also keeps tiny fingers from digging in a dish to find their favourite veggie. And, eating straight from the board mean the kids eat what they take rather than piling their plates with food destined to spill or end up in the compost.


The hardboiled eggs got a little cushioning from a produce bag-- might as well try to avoid cracks in case they don't all get eaten. (Which they didn't.)

picnic packing list for toddlers

One more thing to pack: dessert. Jeanna made haystacks which you're seeing be demolished here. 


A Successful picnic! Thanks to Jeanna and the kids for the fun.