Ignoring the fact that it’s meant to rain for the next week—ah, British summertime—sunnier days are fast approaching.
With the warmer weather comes a plethora of shop-made and ready-to-go picnic staples from your favourite supermarkets (Marks and Spencer, we’re looking at you), prepared for you to enjoy in the park, on the beach or from your living room sofa—whatever you’d prefer.
Before you dive in and spend your hard earned cash on not so nutrient dense foods, picnics don’t have to totally derail your nutrition. Far from it, as registered nutritionist and food expert Jenna Hope (@jennahopenutrition) is here to prove.
We sent Hope into her local M&S to share what she’d buy for a picnic with friends.
Keep scrolling for her top picks.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Why? ‘Raspberries are rich in phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants) known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been found to support blood flow and increase blood vessel dilation.’
Veggie Power Bean Mix
Why? If you can’t eat nuts then shop smart to hit your daily macros and micros. ‘These are ideal for anyone with a nut allergy as they provide a source of fibre, proteins and healthy fats to help balance blood sugar levels,’ says Hope.
‘They’re also great for sharing and provide a salty flavour and a perfect crunch just as nuts do, and are rich in iron and magnesium, vital for oxygen transport and essential in over 300 processes in the body and play roles in muscle and nerve conduction, heart function, bone function, energy production and metabolism, to name a few.’
Wholefood Salad and 3 Bean Salad
Price: £3.50 each
Why? ‘These salads are a great way to pack in some of your 5 a day. Beans are high in potassium which helps to regulate fluid balance in the body, plus the handy little portion-size pots are ideal for sharing with others.’
Carrot Bites with Cannellini Bean Dip
Why? ‘These carrot bites look absolutely delicious and are perfect for sharing. Carrots are high in beta-carotene which is a fat soluble antioxidant essential for obtaining healthy skin, and cannellini beans are a great source of B vitamins, vital for energy function—win, win.’
Carrots and hummus, and mozarella and Ryvita crackers
Price: £2.60 and £3.79
Why? ‘Pre-chopped carrots are convenient and perfect for dipping into hummus. Hummus is a really well balanced food as it contains complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.’
‘Mozarella is rich in calcium which is vital for bone function as well as iodine. Iodine plays an essential role in regulating the thyroid function and supporting neurodevelopment in children.’
Why? ‘This on-the-go matcha provides a perfect picnic caffeine hit. The caffeine in matcha is released at a much slower rate than coffee due to the L-theanine which also promotes the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps you to feel calm. For those who suffer with anxiety, matcha may be a better alternative for you, as it’s less stimulating.’
Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes
Why? ‘Every picnic needs a touch of chocolate! Chocolate rice cakes are perfect as they provide you with your sugar fix without a ton of excess sweet stuff and energy. Opt for dark chocolate, as it tends to be lower in sugar than milk chocolate.’
Why? ‘Popcorn is the perfect picnic sharing —it’s a great alternative to crisps as it’s lower in energy and provides the perfect crunch.’
Iced Apple and Matcha Tea
Why? ‘This iced tea contains no added sugars and so makes for a healthier alternative to iced coffees.’
Marinated Anchovies, Falafel and Mediterranean Vegetable Frittata
Price: 3 for £7.00
Why? ‘Handy picnic sized snack pots? I’m sold. If you’re going for the anchovies make sure you’ve got forks! Anchovies are a great source of available omega-3, which is vital for brain function, joint health and skin health.
‘Next: these falafels are high in protein and fibre to support a healthy gut.
‘Finally, the frittata is a great for a dose of vitamin D and choline from the eggs. Both nutrients are vital for brain function, and low levels of vitamin D have been associated with low mood and choline is vital for neurogenesis (the creation of new cells) in foetuses and is therefore particularly important for pregnant women.’
Plant Kitchen Apple and Peanut Butter
Why? ‘You can’t go wrong with sliced apple and peanut butter, and this perfectly portioned package is great for a picnic. Combining carbohydrates with a source of protein and healthy fats helps to slow down the release of sugars into your blood stream meaning you’ll feel fuller for longer.’
Hope’s haul came in at £29.19. 81p under budget—not bad for a picnic that would serve two, full of micronutrient-dense foods and snacks ideal for enjoying al freso on a summers day.
Ready to shop? Head in store or to the Marks and Spencer website to place your order, or read what Hope would buy from Sainsbury’s, Asda and Lidl.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below