40 Perfect Side Dishes for Summer Picnics

A few weeks ago I shared a collection of Over 30 Delicious Recipes for Easy Picnic Food with you, just in time for National Picnic Day.

With summer warming up, we’re already in summer picnic mode and couldn’t be happier about that! Not only are picnics a great way to enjoy the outdoors, they are a fun way to enjoy family time most months out of the year. Which means the more picnic food options we have, the better! So today I figured you could use 40 Perfect Picnic Sides to add to your picnic menu options. Enjoy!

 Quick Dips and Spreads for Crackers and Fruits and Veggies, Oh my!

  1. Pesto Bruschetta Spread
  2. Sun Dried Tomato Artichoke Hummus
  3. White Bean and Garlic Hummus
  4. Roasted Garlic Hummus
  5. 7 Layer Dip (In little jars)
  6. Guacamole for Chips
  7. Homemade Salsa
  8. Fusion Dip for Veggies
  9. Tomato Basil Dip for Crackers
  10. Honey Peanut Butter dip
  11. Cream Cheese Trio Appetizers for crackers

Appetizers & Snacks & Tasty Little Treats

  1. Hard Boiled Eggs
  2. Huli Huli Bacon Chicken Bites
  3. Almost Homemade Pickles
  4. Kale Chips
  5. Sweet Heat Slow Cooker Chex Mix
  6. Country Bob’s Tangy Chex Mix

A few More Traditional Picnic Favorites

  1. Chicken Salad
  2. Potato Salad
  3. Baked Beans

Pasta & Grain Salads for Light Summer Dining

  1. Perfect Pasta Salad + Tips and Tricks
  2. Another version of Pasta Salad
  3. Broccoli Tomato Tortellini Salad
  4. Bacon Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad
  5. Wild Rice Salad

Veggies Salads for those who prefer Healthy Picnicking

  1. Asian Broccoli Salad
  2. Ranch Veggie Salad
  3. Tomato Artichoke Heart Salad
  4. Summer Corn Salad
  5. Orange Red Onion Salad
  6. Cucumbers and Onions
  7. Cucumber Tomato Salad
  8. Green bean and Tomato Salad
  9. Creamy Italian Herb Cucumbers & Tomatoes

Slaws for Days

  1. Hawaiian Coleslaw
  2. Quick Coleslaw
  3. Tomato Jalapeno Slaw

Fruit Salads as sweet as dessert

  1. Easy Apple Salad
  2. Easy Fruit Salad
  3. Sliced Apples (with a no-browning trick!)
  4. Wild Watermelon

So how about you? Do you have a favorite side dish that you always have to make for picnics? I would love to hear what it is in the comments below. And in the meantime … Happy Picnicking!

More Picnicking Resources



No Heat Dinners

No Heat Dinners to keep the kitchen cool

When I was little, we didn’t have central air in our house. My parents had a window unit air conditioner in their bedroom window that cooled their room and the short hallway to a bedroom my sister and I shared. During one especially hot summer, we would set up the card table in the bedroom to eat. It was just too hot to eat in the kitchen.

And the meal of choice was Chef Salad. Cool iceburg lettuce, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, lunch meat, sliced American cheese all topped with Seven Seas Green Goddess dressing or maybe Russian dressing.

Side note: Remember that Green Goddess Dressing from the 70s? I think it disappeared for a while, but now Kraft is selling it. I haven’t tried it since I was little.

Chef salad still makes a great dinner on a hot evening, but there are some other good no-heat meals too.  Here are a few that will keep you and the kitchen cool.

gazpacho done



This cold soup is full of garden veggies.  It’s a great way to use all that zucchini!



Tomato Sandwich

Admittedly, this is a pretty light meal for dinner.  But if you’ve got garden fresh tomatoes, what else do you really need in life?

Peach Chutney Chicken Salad

Peach Chutney Chicken Salad

This 15 minute recipe calls for using homemade peach chutney that you’ve already frozen.  You can skip that and use store-bought chutney instead.  Or go for this Chicken Salad recipe with grapes and pecans.  Use rotisserie chicken to keep it cool and quick.  (The photos on that post are old and not great, but the recipe is wonderful.)

tuna tomato salad done


Summer Time Tuna Salad

There’s no mayo in this version.  Instead the tuna is served over sliced avocado with plenty of tomatoes and other goodies.  This is one of my favorites!  It’s quick and easy to make too.

What are your favorite no-heat dinners to beat the sweltering summer heat?



6 Picnic Tips and Menu Ideas for a Day at the Zoo, Park etc.

6 Tips and Menu Ideas for a Day Trip Picnic to the Zoo or park

I’m a big fan of packing food for day trips.  It saves money and the food I bring is almost always better than what can be bought at our destination.

Here are my best tips for BYOP (bring your own picnic).

1.  Go with a standard plan

One trick I use for these types of outings is to pack nearly the same thing every time.  The big reason to do this is it makes spur of the moment picnics a breeze.  There have been times when we’ve woken up on a summer Saturday and decided to hit the road that morning.  I’ve been able to make a quick trip to the grocery for supplies, come home and pack it all up and be ready to go in less than an hour.  Buying our standard picnic fair makes this a no-brainer.

You can make it special by packing crackers, chips or cookies you don’t usually buy.  Grapes are a standard in our picnic, but they’ve gotten so expensive that they’re now a treat too.

2.  Try tortilla wraps instead of sandwiches

Tortilla wraps hold up better in the cooler than sandwiches made on bread.  They don’t seem as prone to squishing or getting soggy like sandwiches will.

3.  Pack sides that can double as snacks part way through the day

Mostly this involves making sure you’ve packed enough extras to go with your main course.  It’s fun to stop for a special treat, but it’s also nice to not have to purchase every snack and drink your family will need through a whole day.

We like a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy.  Grapes and baby carrots are our go-to healthy choices.  I like these because they’re easy to eat and not messy or sticky.  They hold up great in the cooler too.

We also like cheese crackers and some kind of packaged cookie.  Homemade cookies taste better, but store-bought handle being packed without crushing or smooshing.

4.  Avoid things that melt or get sticky

Cut fruit, frosting and chocolate are things that come to mind here.

5.  Keep beverages simple and pack plenty

When people get hot, they get thirsty.  You can save a ton of money just by having enough drinks packed.  We usually go with water, but juice boxes are nice to have too.

6.  Don’t forget plenty of ice for the cooler, napkins and wet wipes

Picnic Menu Options


Try turkey, beef, ham or hummus.

Add Swiss, provolone, cheddar or American cheese.

Lettuce and sprouts can be added when you make the wraps at home.  Tomatoes are best skipped or added later at the picnic site, because they tend to make thing soggy.

Savory sides

  • Cheese crackers
  • Chips
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Bell pepper strips
  • Pea pods
  • String cheese

Sweet sides




Slow Cooker Bacon Cheeseburgers

Burgers are a summer staple in our house – they’re so easy and versatile that they make an appearance at least once a week on our dinner plans. But, there are always those nights when it’s so humid and sticky and gross that standing over the grill sounds like the worst idea ever. And when it’s like that outside, who really wants to turn on the stove and heat up inside?

These are the perfect burgers for nights like that.


The slow cooker won’t heat up the house, but you can still get a really great burger out of it. The trick? Making sure the patties aren’t sitting in their own grease. I roll up foil and make a mini grill-grate on the bottom of my slow cooker to boost them up just enough.


Then, I just lay my burger patties on top. I can fit four quarter-pound burgers in my four-quart slow cooker. If you want to cook more, just make a second layer of foil and stack them up.   [Read more…]

‘Cheater’ Chili – for hot dogs and more! – 75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Meals EatAtHomeCooks


We love a good cheater recipe around here!  Kim has a fantastically easy version of Chili for hot dogs.  You’re going to love this recipe.  Bonus: there are 3 different methods for cooking it.  Check out the notes on the recipe and choose what works for you.
Hot dog - All the way
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to hot dog toppings. For me, I want a grilled hot dog, loaded with chili, onions, mustard, ketchup, and slaw….yummmm!  With grilling season under way, and lots of cook outs planned for July 4th, I wanted to share this super simple chili recipe I recently made. You only need THREE ingredients…a couple of pantry staples and ground beef…that’s it!
Cheater Chili EAH
I used one can of Hunt’s Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili and one can of Manwich Sauce (for Sloppy Joes). My original intent was to use this as a base, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn’t need to add anything but the ground beef! It had a great flavor, and was perfect for our hot dogs! I received lots of compliments on it too.  I also think this could easily be made in the slow cooker, but someone would need to be available to give it a stir once in a while to break up the meat.

‘Cheater’ Chili – for hot dogs and more!
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce seasoned for chili
  • 1 (15 oz) can Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce- original
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. Brown ground beef in large pot.
  2. Rinse under hot water to remove grease and then return meat to pot or place in crockpot.
  3. Add tomato sauce, Manwich and cayenne pepper to meat.
  4. Heat on medium high heat until boiling. Or cook in slow cooker on low for 5 -7 hours.

If you want a little spicy kick to your chili, you could add in some cayenne pepper! I made this chili the night before my cookout, and heated it up in my crock pot the day of. This also kept the chili nice and warm without tying up my stove top.
How do you eat your hot dogs?!
KimM is a contributing writer for Eat at Home. She has three children, ages 12, 10 and 5; 2 fur babies, and blogs about her kitchen adventures at Makin’ it Mo’Betta. You can also follow on PinterestFacebook and Twitter.

75 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

If you like using your slow cooker, you’re going to love this series. Summer Slow Cooker recipes are the best way to keep your kitchen cool and save time. No one wants to spend all summer cooking. There are better things to do! Check out this list of summer slow cooker recipes. You’ll want to add them all to your menu!

Get ready for 75 slow cooker recipes that are perfect for summer.  There’s not a soup or stew among them.  Keep your kitchen cool and have dinner ready when you get in from the pool. We’ve teamed up with other bloggers and you’ll find a post with a link to their recipe or if it’s an original from EAH, you’ll find the recipe here!

It won’t be all main dishes though.  Look for sides and desserts too.  We want to get everything we can out of the crockpot this summer.

I’ll also be posting other types of recipes, cooking tips and the sneak peeks at the Weekly Meal Plans each week.  That means that some days we’ll have more than one post for you.  Don’t worry if you’re an email subscriber though, you’ll still get just one email daily or weekly, depending on which you opted for when you signed up.  All the posts for the day/week will be in that email. (You are on the email list, aren’t you?  You won’t want to miss these summer slow cooker recipes!)

Day 1 – Mango Chicken

Day 2 – Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Day 3 – Lemon Chicken

Day 4 – Baking Potatoes in the Slow Cooker (with a recipe for Fried Potatoes)

Day 5 – Pork Carnitas

Day 6 – Pesto Ranch Chicken

Day 7 – Chicken BBQ & Slaw Sandwich

Day 8 – Peach Crisp in the Slow Cooker

Day 9 – Fresh Green Beans in the Slow Cooker

Day 10 – P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

Day 11 – BBQ Peach Pulled Pork

Day 12 – Asian Orange Chicken

Day 13 – Pasta Sauce with Sausage and Eggplant

Day 14 – Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Day 15 – Mexican Haystacks

Day 16 – Chocolate Cobbler

Day 17 – Jerk Pork

Day 18 – Creamy Jalapeno Chicken Tacos

Day 19 – Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

Day 20 – Beans for the Freezer

Day 21 – Crockpot Bacon Cheeseburgers

Day 22 – Strawberry Cobbler

Day 23 – Beef Shwarma

Day 24 – Asian Pork Tenderloin

Day 25 – Complete BBQ Chicken Dinner in the Slow Cooker

Day 26 – Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Day 27 – Chocolate Fondue

Day 28 – Honey Glazed Carrots

Day 29 – Spicy Apricot Chicken

Day 30 – Beef Fajitas

Day 31 – Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Day 32 – Swiss Steak

Day 33 – 3 Ingredient Cheater Chili to Top Hot Dogs

Day 34 – Whole Wheat Blueberry Coffee Cake

Day 35 – Tangy Sweet Pork Chops

Day 36 – Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole

Day 37 – Honey Hoisin Chicken Sandwiches

Day 38 – Chicken Cacciatore

Day 39 – Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

Day 40 – African Pulled Beef Sandwiches

Day 41 – Vegan Sloppy Joes

Day 42 – Creamy Chipotle Chicken Tortellini

Day 43 – Easy French Dip Sandwiches

Day 44 – Italian Parmesan Herb Chicken and Potatoes

Day 45 – Caramelized Onions

Day 46 – Beef Gyros

Day 47 – Biscoff Cheesecake

Day 48 – Cooking Hamburger Patties in the Slow Cooker

Day 49 – Eggplant Parmesan

Day 50 – Winter Squash in the Slow Cooker

Day 51 – Chicken Philly Sandwiches

Day 52 – Balsamic Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Day 53 – Corn on the Cob in the Slow Cooker

Day 54- Red Eye BBQ Ribs

Day 55 –Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce

Day 56 – Salsa Verde Steak

Day 57 – Chicken and Broccoli “Stir Fry”

Day 58 – Loaded Potato Casserole

Day 59 – Blueberry Cobbler

Day 60 – Homemade Baked Beans

Day 61 – Tamale Casserole

Day 62 – Parmesan Ranch Mushrooms

Day 63- Slow Cooker Grits

Day 64 – Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Day 65 – Italian Chicken and Tomatoes

Day 66 – Lemon Chicken Baked on a Bed of Sauerkraut

Day 67 – Sweet Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Day 68 – Beef Tips in Gravy

Day 69 – Chicken and Zucchini Pasta

Day 70 – How to Use Your Slow Cooker to Bulk Cook Whole Chicken, Ground Beef and Turkey Breast

Day 71 – Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Day 72 – Apple Crisp

Day 73 – Breakfast Casserole

Day 74 – Baked Chicken with Summer Vegetables

Day 75 – Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches with Creamy Ranch Slaw

Menu, Grocery List, Recipes – Year 3 Week 38

School starts this week for us.  This marks the 16th year that I’ve geared up for homeschooling.

It’s so much easier now that I just have kids in 4th, 8th and 12th grades.  My son who is a senior is taking a couple of dual enrollment classes at the community college, so my teaching responsibilities with him are few.  And my oldest daughter is starting her junior year at UK.

The hardest year for me (aside from every time we added a new baby to the family) was the year I had one in preschool, grade school, middle school and high school.  I just felt a little spread thin that year trying to meet such a variety of needs.

I can’t say that we’ve done it all perfectly for the past 15 years (far from it!), but the journey has been worth it.

For all of us getting back into the school schedule – whether it’s public, private, home, college, etc. – many prayers for a year of adventures learning together.

One of my biggest helps during the school year, is printing the weekly menu and grocery list.  No planning required and I know what dinner is going to be all week.  I’ve also been training my oldest son to do the grocery shopping for me.  He’s pretty good at it!

Here’s what is on the menu this week:

African Pulled Beef Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker with Yogurt Mint Sauce, Roasted Sweet & White Potatoes, watermelon

Honey Lemon Pepper Salmon, Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, favorite green veggie

Chicken and Broccoli “Stir Fry” in the Slow Cooker, rice

Garden Frittata, Blueberry Muffins with Orange Glaze, fresh fruit

Enchiladas with Chili-Tomato Sauce, salad, chips & salsa

BBQ Chicken with Southwestern Cornbread Stuffing, favorite green veggie

Coconut Cream and Chocolate Dessert

To print, click here:  menu year 3 week 38


Menu, Grocery List, Recipes Year 3 Week 32

I think you’re going to like this menu.  It’s got some really good dishes and they are all fast too.  Some are super fast.  That’s the way I like my cooking to be.
As always, you get 6 dinners and 1 dessert.  Serving suggestions are included in bold on the recipes and in curly brackets {} on the grocery list.

Here’s what is on the menu this week:

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta, salad

Complete BBQ Chicken Dinner in the Slow Cooker

Honey Mustard Grilled Pork Chops, Cucumbers and Onions, favorite veggie

Lemon Pepper Tilapia with Veggies on the Grill, baked potatoes (try using the microwave or slow cooker for this)

Nachos, salad

Gina’s Club Sandwiches, watermelon, Quick Cole Slaw

Ice Cream Cappuccinos

To print, click here: menu year 3 week 32

Menu, Grocery List, Recipes Year 3 Week 31

Hope you had a great summer weekend!  I’ve got one kid off to Scout Camp this week and he is having a hard time with being homesick.  Anyone have a child deal with that before?  It’s hard to watch your kids struggle with something that only they can struggle with.  Parenting is a tough job!

As for the menu this week, there’s lots of variety.  You get 6 dinners and 1 dessert, along with serving suggestions.  Print, shop, cook!

Grilled Round Steak with Red Wine Vinegar and Homemade Seasoned Salt, baked sweet potatoes in the slow cooker, favorite green veggie

Sloppy Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos, chips and salsa, salad

Bacon and Tomato Pasta, garlic bread, salad

Grilled Fish Sandwiches with Homemade Tartar Sauce, Asian Broccoli Salad

Pesto Tomato Pizza, salad

Scrambled Eggs and Peppers, Biscuits, fresh fruit

New England Blueberry Coffee Cake

To print, click here:  [download id=”130″]

New England Blueberry Coffee Cake

How many U.S. states have you been too?  I have not been to very many, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go.  You know those culprits – time and money – that keep us from getting to do what we’d like to do.

So I had an idea that this summer I would travel the country from my own kitchen and invite you to come along.

This week, we’re in the New England states of Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.   I would love to visit this area of the world, because I hear it is beautiful!  If you’re from New England, please leave a comment and let me know.  And tell us what your favorite regional foods are – links welcome!

I chose to make this recipe for New England Blueberry Coffee Cake.  I found the recipe on AllRecipes.  The only change I made was the baking time.  The time the recipe states was no where near long enough.  I also forgot to add the flour to the butter and brown sugar in the topping.  It still turned out, but the flour would have made it more like a crumb topping.

We loved this cake.  It’s full of blueberries, topped with brown sugar and butter and studded with walnuts.  Oh my! [Read more…]