Winter picnics: hot food ideas and recipes
Picnics aren’t just for summer, they’re a brilliant way to keep the whole family warm on chilly winter days too. So if you’re planning a wintry walk in the woods, why not dust off your picnic basket and get inspired with our ideas and recipes?
Credit: iStock.com / Chiociolla
Hot drinks and soups
One of the easiest ways to keep toasty on winter adventures is with a hot drink or soup in a flask. A steaming cup of hot chocolate is extra special when it's sipped in the middle of a frosty forest (especially when topped with mini marshmallows). Wrapping your hands around a warm mug will help defrost icy fingers too.
Fancy a change from tea or coffee? Dilute squash with hot water to make a warming fruity drink, or have a go at our delicious mulled juice.
Mulled apple juice recipe
You will need:
- 1 litre of apple juice or diluted squash
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- a few pieces of orange peel
Put all the ingredients into a pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cinnamon, cloves and peel, and pour the liquid into a flask.
Credit: Ben Lee / WTML
A hearty snack will chase away the chill and help boost flagging energy levels. One-pot meals like stews, curries or mac and cheese will keep warm in a food flask. You can also make something that's easy to eat on the move, like filled pitta breads or hot dogs.
Chilli pitta pockets
Cook up a chilli and fill up a food flask. When you're ready to eat, open some pitta halves so they form pockets and pour chilli into them. It’s a tasty alternative to a sandwich and you don’t need to take bowls and spoons out on your walk.
Do your kids love hot dogs? They'll enjoy them even more after working up an appetite in the fresh air!
Cook some tinned hot dog sausages at home, then put them in a food flask topped up with just-boiled water to keep them warm. When you're hungry, carefully fish out the sausages and pop them inside bread rolls – remember to pat the sausages dry with some kitchen roll first to stop your bread getting soggy. Add your favourite sauce and tuck in.
This family favourite is another meal that works well outdoors. Wrap piping hot baked potatoes in foil, then bundle them up in tea towels and they'll stay warm for a couple of hours. Add hot baked beans and grated cheese when you're ready to eat – they'll have never tasted so good!
What better way to finish your winter picnic than with a comforting pud? A food flask will keep all sorts of desserts warm. Try stewed fruit, rice pudding, sticky toffee pudding, or sponge pudding with custard. Delicious!
Credit: Michael Heffernan / WTML
Top tips for exploring in winter
It goes without saying, but it's important to wear warm clothes on winter adventures. Remember that several layers are warmer than one thick item and they're easier to shed if kids get too hot running around. Wear an extra pair of socks to keep toes cosy and don’t forget a hat. If your hands get cold, you can eat your picnic wearing a pair of fingerless gloves.
These might be useful additions to your picnic basket too:
- something waterproof to sit on – logs and picnic benches can stay damp in winter, even if the weather's dry
- sanitising hand gel
- kitchen roll (or napkins)
- a rubbish bag to take your litter home
- and don't forget to pack a couple of blankets to snuggle up in when you find your perfect picnic spot.
More winter adventures
Discover woods in winter
Winter is a magical time to explore a different side to the woods. From cold, crisp mornings to chilly starlit evenings, discover a winter wonderland near you.
9 fun ideas for family winter walks