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There's almost nothing better than sprawling out on a blanket with a basket of snacks at your side. Picnics are a great way to take advantage of nice weather and enjoy a delicious, casual meal with friends and family. We tapped registered dietitian, Lauren Manaker, M.S., RDN, LD, for her favorite picnic-friendly (read: pre-prepped and easy to clean up) Trader Joe's finds this season. Before scouting your next picnic spot, pop over to a TJ's location near you and snag a few of these packable picks.
1. Sparkling White Tea with Pomegranate Juice
Need a refreshing drink to quench your thirst in the summer heat? Look no further. Coming in single-serve 8.5-ounce cans, this sparkling white tea is the perfect beverage to grab on your way out the door. "This tea makes for an effervescent beverage that everyone can enjoy without worrying about preserving the bubbles," like you would with a bigger bottle of something, Manaker says. "Made with real white tea, this drink provides natural antioxidants and a bit of caffeine to help us keep some pep in our step." Or, if you're attending a picnic party for people 21-plus, check out these sparkling wines.
2. Spanish Tapas Cheese Sampler
A picnic is all about convenience and minimizing the weight of your basket, so anything that's bite-sized has our attention. Manaker loves this cheese sampler because it's "pre-sliced and perfectly portioned," allowing her family to have a variety of cheese at their fingertips (quite literally). Complete with queso Ibérico, cabra al vino and manchego, this sampler covers all the bases and complements any spread. Plus, no cheese knife is required!
3. Fig & Olive Crisps
Just as peanut butter goes with jelly, crackers (or in this case, crisps) go with cheese. These sturdy toasted-bread slices are the perfect throw-in to complete your basket. With anti-inflammatory ingredients (like flax, sesame and sunflower seeds), figs and Kalamata olives sourced from Greece, these crisps strike a balance between sweet and savory. Plus, they're the perfect vehicle for any dip or cheese. "I love how these crisps are on the thicker side, helping increase the chances of them being completely intact once we arrive at our picnic site, instead of being a crumbled pile of cracker," Manaker says.
4. Pre-Sliced Watermelon
Watermelon is the anthem of summer. Lucky for us, TJ's offers pre-sliced melon, making it an easy snack to keep in tow. "Watermelon is chock-full of important nutrients and it is super-hydrating, with no added sugars," Manaker says. "For a bit of sweetness along with a boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including pre-cut watermelon is always a welcome addition." This summertime snack is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C and pairs great with a sprinkle of lime zest and sea salt. Tip: Make-ahead this seasoning mix for a portable flavor boost.
5. Dolmas Vine Leaves Stuffed with Rice
Grape leaves are a delicacy in the Mediterranean diet and a good source of essential minerals like magnesium and iron. "These dolmas are easy to enjoy as a finger food, and they are a perfectly portable and satisfying thing to snack on while enjoying the great outdoors," says Manaker. If you love these rice-stuffed dolmas (which we know you will), TJ's also carries a quinoa rendition. Bonus: The pop-top means you can leave your can opener at home!
6. Soft Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies
For a treat under the sun, try opting for these Soft Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds. Sunflower seeds are heart-healthy and may provide anti-inflammatory benefits, and they deliver 6% of your Daily Value of iron in a 1-ounce serving. "For dessert, instead of packing up some complicated sweet treat, simple sunflower butter cookies can be just what the doctor ordered," Manaker says. "These cookies are vegan, gluten-free and free of wheat, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy and sesame, making them a great option if you are feeding someone with an allergy."