How to throw a family picnic on the cheap

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Hey there, Charlotte from LottyEarns here!

From outside it’s looking like we are very nearly into summer and is there anything more British (or perfect) than to gather the family and get out into the fresh air to have a picnic together? Here are my top tips to stock up on mounds of tasty and nutritious food, without breaking the bank.

  1. Invest in some cheap ice-packs - You can get them in plenty of pound shops and all of the supermarkets. This will keep all your food nice and cold so there’s no stressing about food going bad. You don’t have to splash out on a fancy cool-box either; just a bag (an insulated carrier costing around 50p from the supermarket is ideal) with a couple of frozen ice-packs will do the job.
  2. Cut back on the meat - Don’t make meat the star of the show - the egg is your friend! Everyone loves an egg mayo sandwich and it’s super cheap, nutritious and filling.
  3. Don’t buy ready made food - Whatever you do, don’t go to the sandwich section in your local supermarket and pick yourself up a ready-made picnic. Those sandwiches, single packs of crisps and individual drinks are seriously expensive. Go and get yourself a big baguette from the bakery, some spread and a filling and put the sandwich together when you’ve found a pretty spot. Pick up a multipack of crisps (which costs nearly the same as an individual one) and get a carton of juice that will keep the whole family happy, such as Sunny D. With a carton being around £1 - and small bottles of juice being twice that in the convenience aisle, it’s a no brainer.
  4. Do your picnic shopping the night before - The best way to get luxurious foods on the cheap is to find yellow stickered items. Food that is close to its sell by date is sold off cheaply in special sections of the supermarket. Here’s where you’ll find yourself fancy packets of meat, fish and cakes at a fraction of the price. Reductions are usually at their biggest at around 7pm.
  5. You can’t have too many baby wipes - As much as we’d love to think our picnics can be a civilised affair, with kids it just generally doesn’t happen like that. A pack of cheap baby wipes can clean up your bag, clothes, hands and faces when the yogurt inevitably explodes!
  6. Buy frozen food - Lots of finger food is optimal for a picnic, but you shouldn’t go to the fresh aisle to get your bargains. The frozen section is where you should head for your sausages, spring rolls, mini pizzas etc. They’ll be the fraction of the price and you can cook them up the night before.
  7. Make your own pots of jelly - You can buy cheap packets of jelly for a couple of pence at the supermarket, and yet the wobbly stuff screams special occasion to me. Put it in old yoghurt pots or ramekin dishes so you have for a perfect dessert in the sunshine.
  8. Freeze your drinks - If you stick the bottle of Sunny D or whatever you’re drinking in the freezer the night before, not only will it keep all your food cold - but as it melts, it will be deliciously ice cold to drink.
  9. Get some cheap carbs to fill tummies - Pick up a packet of savoury rice and cook it up the night before. The own brand stuff you can make with boiling water costs around 25p. This will fill up hungry tummies so expensive items don’t have to.
  10. Look for coupons and offers - They’re everywhere and can get you a discount off your favourite picnic food item. For example, using the offers page on the Sunny D website you can see exactly where the discounts are (there are loads of places where it’s reduced to £1) and you never know where you can find an extra coupon to use on top of the offer - hint hint!


Here’s my budget supermarket shopping list with approximate prices: 

  • Sunny D - £1
  • Baguette - 80p
  • Eggs - Six free range eggs - 90p
  • Mayonaise 500ml - 40p
  • Ham - 250g -  £1.50
  • Jelly - 135g-  50p
  • Frozen pizza - £1
  • Frozen sausage rolls - £1
  • Baby wipes - 50p
  • Multipack of crisps - 85p for pack of six
  • Packet of savoury rice - 25p

Just £8.50 feeds a family of four (easily!) for a plentiful summer picnic - and that doesn’t include any coupons/discounts/reductions you maybe able to find either. That’s how to throw a family picnic on the cheap!