Picnic essentials and food platters to buy and pack for a fuss-free meal outdoors

Nothing says ‘British Summer’ like a picnic or a bit of alfresco dining. Here are all the picnic essentials you’ll need to make it picture perfect…

picnic essentials

Even though lockdown rules (opens in new tab) are due to be changed in the coming weeks, with pubs and restaurants reopening, many people will be sticking to the essentials of our newfound tradition - a picnic in the park at the weekend.

This might be because picnic foods tend to be cheaper than a meal out, and you can pick up all your favourite drinks for a fraction of the price in the supermarket (opens in new tab). Or it could be because the weather is due to reach record heights and we’d all rather be spending our time lounging in the sunshine – with plenty of suncream (opens in new tab), of course.

Lots of us will be flocking to the local parks as temperatures raise - with our picnic hampers in hand - but some people will prefer to stick to the shade in their back gardens with a BBQ (opens in new tab), getting through all the picnic food and drink (opens in new tab) with friends and family. How ever you decide to have your picnic, these essentials will see you through the heat of the day and into the evening.

Picnic essentials that will keep things fuss-free

Having the perfect picnic mat - waterproof or not - will ensure that your avoid stains on your clothes (opens in new tab), while a backpack or basket will make transporting all your goodies so easy.

Picnic cooler bag

These are some of our favourites...

House by John Lewis Picnic Cooler Bag

Credit: John Lewis

Simple and effective, this cool bag from John Lewis will keep your snacks and drinks cool for up to 6 hours. It has two handles and zip to keep the contents secure, as well as a wipe-clean lining so it can be used time and time again.

BUY NOW: House by John Lewis Picnic Cooler Bag, £14.99 (opens in new tab)

Twin Cool Bag Set

Credit: Argos

While they might not be the most colourful cooler bags around, they're certainly the best value. These two cooler bags from Argos, coming in at £11.99 for both, can hold 22 and 8 litres respectively. This means that you're certain never to run out of space to store your food and drink, and it can all stay cold.

But with 4.5 stars to its name and a summer incoming, get there fast to ensure that these don't sell out!

BUY NOW: Twin Cool Bag Set - 22L and 8L (opens in new tab)

Argos Home Coastline Family Striped Cooler

Credit: John Lewis

Ideal if you're just looking to pack a couple of drinks and a few snacks, this cooler bag from Argos is cheap and cheerful and makes picnicking in your back garden, at the beach or at the park, so much easier.

BUY NOW: Argos Home Coastline Family Striped Cooler, £8 (opens in new tab)

Navigate Gardenia Striped Picnic Tote Cooler Bag

Credit: John Lewis

For a burst of colour at your picnic, go for this John Lewis fan-favourite picnic bag. It's big enough to hold a picnic for two to four people and has a wipe-clean, PEVA lining to keep your picnic bits cooler and fresher for longer.

BUY NOW: Navigate Gardenia Striped Picnic Tote Cooler Bag, £25 (opens in new tab)

GEEZY Insulated Wine Bottle Cooler Bag

picnic essentials

Credit: Amazon

Heading to the park but don't want your wine to get warm? This is the solution! This simple wine cooler bag with its aluminium foil insulation material, will keep your wine or other picnic drinks cold for hours at a time.

BUY NOW: GEEZY Insulated Wine Bottle Cooler Bag, £13.99 (opens in new tab)

Picnic mat and waterproof blanket

Keep your clothes clean and food out of the grass with one of these colourful and waterproof picnic mats...

Mountain Warehouse waterproof picnic blanket

Credit: Amazon

This hard-wearing picnic mat from Mountain Warehouse comes in variety of patterns - this floral one, boats, flamingos or stripes. It's got a water-resistant back, making it ideal for any beach getaways or for when the weather turns on us and a grab handle for easy carrying.

BUY NOW: Mountain Warehouse Waterproof Picnic Blanket (opens in new tab)

Argos Home Large Picnic Mat

Credit: Argos

Worried that your friends or family members won't be able to spot you in a packed park? Or busy beach? With this vibrant picnic blanket, that's certainly something you won't need to worry about. Let the kids go off and play, knowing that your picnic blanket stands out from the crowd, so they'll easily be able to find you again.

BUY NOW: Argos Home Large Picnic Mat, £12 (opens in new tab)

Personalised Large Picnic Blanket by Solesmith 

Credit: Not on The High Street

Whether you're looking for yourself or a gift for someone else this summer, a personalised picnic mat is sure to go down a treat. Although not waterproof, Solesmith on Not on The High Street (opens in new tab) says this mat, 'is ideal for days out this spring and summer in the great British countryside. It is extra large so there is plenty of room for everyone!'

BUY NOW: Personalised Large Picnic Blanket by Solesmith, £28 (opens in new tab)

House by John Lewis waterproof Picnic Mat 

Credit: John Lewis

Match your cool bag to your picnic mat with this one from the picnic essentials range at John Lewis. It's navy blue colour will blend in with any background, perfect for a low-key picnic in the park, while the backing protects from the ground's moisture and it folds up neatly with a handle for carrying.

BUY NOW: House by John Lewis Picnic Mat, £10 (opens in new tab)

SONGMICS Picnic Blanket

Credit: Amazon

This white, green, pink and peachy picnic blanket makes a colourful addition to any spread. It has a soft flannel surface and a sponge filling, so it's not just a basic blanket either - the addition cushioning allows you to comfortably rest without getting a stiff body or spilling your drink.

BUY NOW: SONGMICS Picnic Blanket, £15.99 (opens in new tab)

John Lewis & Partners Leaf Print Pom-Pom Waterproof Picnic Blanket

Credit: John Lewis

Floral and fun, this picnic mat is a bestseller at John Lewis. It's designed to look good with a abstract leaf pattern and pom-pom trim, while also being functional as it has a backing to protect your from the moisture on the ground and it folds up easily with a grab handle for carrying.

BUY NOW: John Lewis & Partners Leaf Print Pom-Pom Picnic Blanket, £25 (opens in new tab)

Picnic baskets and hampers

Picnic cooler bags not quite your style? If you're looking for some vintage picnic inspiration, look no further than these picnic baskets and hampers.

Argos Home Hamper Basket

Credit: Argos

Simple and effective, this basket from Argos will give you the feeling of an old-school picnic without the top-tier price. It's lined in striped fabric and has a useful grab handle, so it's easy to carry on the move as well.

BUY NOW: Argos Home Hamper Basket, £25 (opens in new tab)

John Lewis & Partners Coastal Willow Wood Wicker Picnic Basket

picnic essentials

Credit: John Lewis

This coastal-inspired wicker basket has everything you need for 4-person picnic - with stainless steel cutlery, plastic wine glasses, ceramic plates and a handy corkscrew. Classical in style but a bit different in colour than other picnic baskets, this is one to pick up before it sells out.

BUY NOW: John Lewis & Partners Coastal Willow Wood Wicker Picnic Basket, £50 (opens in new tab)

Personalised Traditional Wicker Picnic Basket

picnic essentials

Credit: Not On the High Street

More expensive than perhaps your standard picnic basket, but this one comes with a dining set for two people as well as a cork screw. The basket is made from natural willow, brown faux leather and gold embellishments. It's got a classic country-style tartan lining and this basket also includes a tag, which you can personalise with your own initials or message.

BUY NOW: Personalised Traditional Wicker Picnic Basket, £98 (opens in new tab)

Picnic backpack/rucksack

If you love going on long walks in the country-side before settling down for your picnic, go for one of these picnic rucksacks - or learn how to make your own picnic bag (opens in new tab).

John Lewis & Partners Meadow Filled Picnic Cooler Backpack

picnic essentials

Credit: John Lewis

Lifewit 24L Soft Cooler Backpack with Hard Liner

picnic essentials

Credit: Amazon

Leakproof, airtight and comfortable to wear. A cooler backpack like this one is any hiker's best companion for a day out. Coming in a neutral colour, it will stay unnoticed as your navigate your way to your favourite picnic spot.

BUY NOW: Lifewit 24L Soft Cooler Backpack with Hard Liner, £28.99 (opens in new tab)

4 Person Picnic Backpack

picnic essentials

Credit: Wayfair

Ideal for a chilled-out picnic, this backpack contains everything you'll need for your alfresco dining - wherever you choose to have it. The set includes four plastic wine glasses, plastic plates, knives, forks, spoons, a bottle opener and even a plastic chopping board - perfect for strawberries! In addition, in has a removeable insulated bottle holder, so whether you're looking to keep the wine cold or the coffee hot, this bag has you covered.

BUY NOW: 4 Person Picnic Backpack, £48.99 (opens in new tab)

All these picnic essentials will make sure that your food and drink stays cool while you chat with friends or family at your next socially distanced picnic or outdoor dinner, whether that be in your garden or at the park.

Ready-made picnic platters

Sometimes you just want the basics with your picnic essentials - whether you're having a BBQ picnic or a classic one. Ready-made picnic platters take the stress out of shopping and ensure that you have everything you need to kick off your picnic. These are some of the best ready-made picnic platters for sale at the moment...

Morrisons £10 picnic platter

picnic essentials

Credit: Morrisons

Striking while the iron's hot, Morrisons is ahead of the game already with a £10 picnic platter (opens in new tab) to make socially-distanced meet-ups that much easier.

There are two picnic platters to choose from. One is for 2 adults and features British summer classics like jam and cream scones, ham and tuna & sweetcorn sandwiches, mini pork pies, quiche Lorraine, fresh salad, a pot of strawberries and some cherry bakewells. The other one - sold for £6 - is for children and comes packed with loads of child-friendly snacks like ham and cheese sandwiches, Babybels, sausage rolls, butterfly buns, satsumas and carrot and cucumber batons.

BUY NOW: You can order yours in advance on Morrison's Food to Order website and pick it up the next time you're in store. (opens in new tab) 

Iceland easy-assemble picnic platters

picnic essentials

Credit: Iceland

Iceland's extensive selection of picnic food essentials means you can put your picnic platter together yourself online, and then have it ordered to your door in time for the weekend.

They've got a great range of fresh meats and cheeses, crisps and fruit alongside their famous frozen foods. So at Iceland, you're sure to be able to put a picnic platter together for even the fussiest eater.

BUY NOW: Iceland's picnic food range - order online today (opens in new tab)

Tesco Italian picnic range

picnic essentials

Credit: Tesco

For a true home-grown alfresco dining experience, head over to Tesco and pick up some of the picnic bits from their Italian-themed picnic range. Along with the smoked selection (opens in new tab), they've got feta stuffed peppers and mozzarella balls, mushroom arancini (opens in new tab), and a grilled vegetable antipasto selection (opens in new tab).

Perfect if you're looking for some bits to nibble on when your friends and family come over, or ideal to pack in a cool box as you head down to the park.

BUY NOW: Tesco's Italian picnic range - order online today (opens in new tab)

Abel & Cole Summer Meat Box

picnic essentials

Credit: Abel&Cole

Another one of Abel&Cole (opens in new tab)'s food boxes to the rescue! This one contains all the meats you could ever need for a top-notch alfresco dining experience. In this box, you'll get everything from sausages and burgers to steaks, chops and wings, while being assured that all your meat comes from British farms with plenty of open space for the animals to roam around in.

That's a lot of meat! So light up your barbecue and get grilling.

BUY NOW: Pick up your BBQ summer meat box from Abel&Cole via their website (opens in new tab)

Now all that's left to do is enjoy your picnic!

Grace Walsh
Grace Walsh

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.