Top 15 Cheap Picnic Foods

In our household, Summer is synonymous with picnics. Lots and lots of picnics from Memorial Day straight through Labor Day! Here is a list of some of our favorite cheap eats for picnic food. 

  1. German Potato Salad — Potatoes are very inexpensive. Season boiled potatoes with white wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley, and bits of bacon. Chill overnight, and serve cold.
  2. Veggies and Dip — Your best cheap options here include carrots and celery with homemade ranch dip.
  3. Pasta Salad — There are all sorts of variations on this. Our favorite is the tri-colored pasta with Italian salad dressing, halved cherry tomatoes, and black olives.
  4. Hot Dogs — Hot Dogs are also very inexpensive, and they are a picnic/BBQ classic.
  5. Deviled Eggs — Eggs are a good, cheap source of protein, and deviled eggs are an easy picnic food to prepare. 
  6. Fresh Fruit — Our favorites include watermelon, apples, grapes, and strawberries.
  7. Corn on the Cob — Very inexpensive. We break the cobs in half so they stretch even further. Many times the kids don’t eat an entire ear of corn.
  8. Baked Beans — Beans are also a cheap food, and canned baked beans are frequently on sale during the summer months.
  9. Jell-O — I have purchased Jell-O for as little as $0.25 a box. We love to make parfaits with alternating scoops of red and blue Jell-O topped with whipped cream and a cherry. 
  10. Iced Tea/Lemonade — Skip the soda, and opt for ice water, iced sun tea or homemade lemonade instead.
  11. Rotisserie Chicken — For around $5.00, a rotisserie chicken can be a real bargain. Serve cold for a picnic, and save leftovers to make chicken salad, or stock for soup.
  12. Cheese and Crackers — A store like Big Lots has good deals on chips or crackers. Opt for hard cheeses that hold up better in the heat.
  13. Garden Salad — Iceberg lettuce, a diced up tomato, shredded carrots, and a sliced cucumber make for a quick, easy, and cheap garden salad. Top with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
  14. BLT Sandwiches — Pack sliced bread, cooked bacon, lettuce, and sliced tomato for people to build their own BLT sandwiches.
  15. Waldorf Salad — This is one of our summer time favorites. You can find the recipe here.


  1. I got hungry just reading this list.

  2. Valerie says:

    Ivy, I know what you mean! Yummm!

  3. great!!! Thanks for this post. Like to through a picnic.


  4. sunnymama says:

    Some yummy inexpensive ideas! Thanks for the link to the waldorf salad, that really does look good. I’m going to make some 🙂

  5. love summertime picnics