Spring is in full swing. Days full of warmth and sunshine make it the ideal time to pack up a picnic, gather the troops and head for nature. Whether that means taking a drive to get away, walking down the street to the neighborhood park or even taking a few steps to your own backyard, we’ve got a few ideas to help you plan your afternoon picnic.

1. Fill up on seasonal fruits and vegetables.

There’s no better time to take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables than the warm seasons of spring and summer. Winter leaves most of us craving the goodness of fresh produce, so don’t hold back now. Fill up on cheap, yet luscious fruits and vegetables that are easy to bring along on picnics, while helping your meal stay healthy and inexpensive. For fruits, look for cantaloupe, cherries, pineapples and strawberries. After you’ve stocked up on your favorite fruits, fill up on fresh vegetables that your family loves. Keep an eye out for lettuce, springs peas, carrots and celery.

2. Go for the light and portable.

Preparing foods that are light and portable are not only easier to take along on the go, but also make less of a mess once you’ve settled down to enjoy your food. Sandwiches, trail mixes and crackers are inexpensive options that leave lots of room for individualization and creativity. Pair the crackers with fruit, make various deli meat and veggie sandwiches and throw together your preferred combination of trail mix goodies. Packing a meal tailored to each person also helps avoid food waste, which is just another way to help save you money.

3. Don’t skip out on dessert.

Saving money doesn’t have to mean skipping out on the best part of any meal, the dessert. Taking along a few simple homemade sweets is key to helping everyone stay happy and full. Baking desserts at home is not only cheaper, but also helps you know exactly what nutrients your family is, and isn’t, getting.  Cookies, brownies and granola bars are all tasty options that are a great way to finish off a tasty picnic meal on a sweet note.

4. Focus on the food.

Once you’ve got your meal planned, prepped and ready to go, don’t overthink the extras, which often leads to overspending. If you don’t already have an old blanket lying around the house, take a trip to your local thrift store for cheap, yet comfy options. Grab your home silverware and dishes to bring along before you waste money on unnecessary plastic alternatives. Use backpacks to store your picnic, which is not only cheaper than buying a basket, but also more convenient.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

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