Important picnic food tips for storage and transportation

Picture looking down on a couple on a blanket on the grass having a picnic

Whether it is taking that special someone on a romantic date or getting the family out into the fresh air to enjoy each other’s company, picnics and BBQs are a great way to enjoy food in the great outdoors.

However, forgetting simple steps for health and hygiene can leave everyone remembering the meal for all the wrong reasons rather than the fond memories of a fun family picnic or special occasion.

If you’re wondering how to ensure your great outdoor meal goes according to plan, here are some important food storage and transportation tips to keep in mind…

When was the last time you cleaned out your picnic basket?

You’re not alone if you’ve had your picnic basket, utensils, and cooler in storage for months. Before going on the picnic make sure everything has been washed and cleaned. Make sure there are no remnants of the last outing which may date back months or even longer.


Wash your hands.

Before you start preparing food, as well as after, it’s really important to wash your hands using either using a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol or washing your hand with warm soapy water for the time it takes to sing the happy birthday song.


How do you store the raw meat, seafood, and poultry?

These should always be stored in sealed bags in their own cooler – specifically for meats. This is because cross-contamination of meats with other foods can increase the risk of food poisoning.


What else needs refrigerating?

Cheese, dips, and desserts should also be packed and stored in their own cooler. These can be put in the same space as other foods you may like to bring such as fruit or vegetables.

The good news is that the delicious South Australian Gourmet Food Company Fruit Custards with Added Fibre does not need to be kept in the fridge and can be easily and safely taken to any picnic or family BBQ.


Use separate utensils for raw and cooked meat.

Use a food thermometer to make sure your meat has been cooked to a high enough temperature. The minimum temperature depends on the type and amount of meat you bring, as well as if it has been pre-cooked. Check out for the specific temperature which suits your needs.


Your picnic food has a time limit!

One of the most important picnic food tips is the food time limit. The perishable foods just mentioned in the last two points should not be left out for more than 2 hours. If you’re having a great time on your date or family picnic and after two hours you really want that cheese slice or piece of meat, think again. Food Standards Australia New Zealand have a detailed page on the 2-hour rule.


Finish with an A+ in food safety.

Throw away all perishable foods at the end of the picnic and wash all food containers, utensils, and coolers when you get home. If in doubt, throw it out.


Take-Home Message:

Enjoying food is more than about the food but the experience of the environment and the people around us. Leave lifelong family memories by being responsible for how you enjoy food and there’ll no doubt be many more dates or picnics with the family to follow.


Ashleigh Feltham (MNutrDiet)
Feed Your Future Dietetics
Accredited Practising Dietitian | Accredited Nutritionist