An Easy and Inexpensive Plant-Based Picnic Menu

Warm weather has arrived and that means it’s time for eating outdoors and enjoying the long evenings with family and friends. Memorial Day, long considered the first “official”, long weekend holiday of summer, arrives on the heels of the last day of school and the start of summer vacation. Generally, this calls for a celebratory picnic either at the park or on a back patio or deck.

If you want to serve food that is both healthy and delicious, then try these six recipes from our website. Each of these original recipes was created by my teen chef son, Daniel.

Daniel designed these recipes to go together quickly and most can be made ahead and then just stored in the fridge until you’re ready to leave. However, the best part about these recipes is that this tasty plant-based menu is very inexpensive, meaning your grocery budget won’t take a hit (even if you’re hosting a party for extended family and friends).

Make all six recipes and you’ll have a complete frugal picnic or cookout menu.


While you are getting the volleyball net set up or the kids are playing on the swings, put a bowl of this out on the table with chips or raw veggies. Guests can help themselves while the adults are chatting or getting the rest of the picnic food ready to eat.

Walnut Lime Chickpea Spread

This walnut chickpea spread is incredibly versatile. You can spread it on crackers, tortillas, toast, or use it as a dip for chips or raw veggies. Now matter how you eat it, it goes together in about fifteen minutes and is incredibly delicious.

Main Dishes

When it comes to summer celebrations, sandwiches are the star of the day. Plant-based versions are not only easy to make ahead, they are also incredibly inexpensive. Be sure to bring along extras though. These recipes are so tasty that your meat-eating friends will be asking if they can have another one of your sandwiches.

Barbecue Broccoli Sandwiches

I created this recipe for broccoli-based sandwich filling one day, while playing around with new ways to use my son, Daniel’s, quick and easy spicy blender barbecue sauce.

Trust me, your guests will never suspect that this recipe began with a bag of broccoli slaw from the nearest grocery store. Simmered with onion, garlic, and a quick homemade blender barbecue sauce, it mimics the texture traditional barbecue very effectively, without any of the fat, calories, or cholesterol.

This grown-up version ticks all the right boxes. It’s easy to make and when he took it to a high school class party, he was quickly bombarded by recipe requests from both students and staff.

Easy 15¢ Lentil Burgers

No picnic is complete without burgers. Our lentil burgers, a plant-based version, are easy to make and incredibly inexpensive.

Grocery prices soaring, leaving families searching for new ways to stretch their food dollars. This is a great time to turn to and old favorite, beans. Not only are they incredibly cheap, the fiber will fill you up. The best part about beans is that they are incredibly shelf stable and are very versatile.

A few years ago, I created this lentil burger recipe which has become a family favorite. The texture is firm, but not crumbly. They also freeze very well, making them easy to grab on your way out the door. For summer picnics, make them ahead and then simply reheat briefly on the grill at the park.


Broccoli Black Bean Fiesta Salad

Traditional summer salads have oil in the dressing, adding unnecessary calories. Black Bean Broccoli Fiesta Salad has a tasty combination of taco and chili seasoning. Just anoint the top of the salad and let the flavors marry for a couple of hours.

Teriyaki Chinese Rice Salad

Traditionally used on meats, teriyaki provides an unusual, but tasty, surprise in this Chinese rice salad. When I found teriyaki sauce on clearance at Kroger for 59¢ a bottle, I decided to devise a way to use it on something other than meat.

We really like the slightly nutty, chewy texture of brown rice. It also allows the Teriyaki Chinese Rice Salad to hold up well to being stored in the fridge for up to a week without feeling gummy.

The combination of cooked, cooled rice with the crisp textures of celery, green onions, red pepper, cucumber, and carrot, resulted in a surprisingly filling and satisfying cold salad.


Chocolate, No-Bake Coffee Dessert Bars

We love a good cup of coffee in our house. Daniel created Chocolate Coffee No Bake Dessert Bars one night when he was craving the taste of traditional no-bake cookies, but wanted to meld it with the flavor of coffee.

For More Ways to Eat Healthy While Spending Less on Food…

Grab your free copy of Cut Grocery Costs in 10 Easy Steps. I show you how I fed my plant-based family breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an entire week for no more than $50.

Serve your family healthy food without feeling frustrated and defeated by how much you are spending at the store every month.Learn the top 10 shopping strategies that I use every week to feed my family of four for $200 a month.

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