The art of eating al fresco is more difficult than it looks. Thankfully, there’s one source we turn to when packing up for an outdoor meal—you can score all the best picnic foods from Trader Joe’s, but knowing how to curate a selection for every occasion—well, that requires a bit more finesse.

Ahead, we’ve gathered the essentials for an indulgent French picnic (complete with an insulated basket), a breezy, beach-size gathering, the ultimate al fresco charcuterie set-up, and beyond. Whether it’s an impromptu affair or you just don’t feel like fussing with recipes, we’ve made our picnics as effortless as possible with foods curated exclusively from Trader Joe’s. Because filling your picnic basket should be easy on your budget—and we’ll take any excuse to hit up TJ’s.

Feature image by Teal Thomsen.

Image by Teal Thomsen

How to Pack a Breezy, Beachside Picnic

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an oceanfront address, a beach picnic likely means a bit of a haul. In order to save room for the integral wine, we’ve kept our suggestions on the lighter—but no less satisfying—side.  

The Beach People Lune Round Towel

For balmy beach days and seaside sunsets. The celestial design is the perfect backdrop for any picnic.

Mediterranean Style Orzo Pasta Salad

For when you can’t be bothered to put a pasta salad together yourself. Pick your idyllic Mediterranean setting of choice, and the briny and bright flavors will transport you immediately.

Brioche Hot Dog Buns

A picnic rule to live by? Hot dogs are only as good as their buns. These get even better with a little light toasting on the grill.

Organic Grass-Fed Uncured Beef Hot Dogs

No-fuss, quick to cook, and sure to satisfy all your picnic guests? Check, check, and check.

Super Sweet Fresh Corn

It’s not summer without corn on the cob. Buttery, sweet nostalgia—delivered.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

If your life hasn’t yet been transformed by the deliciousness inherent in these peanut butter cups, prepare your tastebuds. You’re in for a treat.

Image by Belathée Photography

How to Pack a Gluten-Free Picnic

Perhaps your group is well-versed in the limitations of Celiac. Or maybe your friend just so happens to be avoiding gluten for trendier reasons. No judgment here—a gluten-free spread can be as substantial as a hearty glass of wheat beer thanks to our picks for the best picnic foods from Trader Joe’s.

Sarah Campbell Picnic Blanket

The vibes are chill and the energy is laid-back. This cheery, printed picnic blanket is the perfect piece for your go-with-the-flow gathering.

Gluten Free Mac & Cheese

Just because you’re dining gluten-free doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. Rice flour pasta gets jazzed up with the magic of Monterey Jack and White Cheddar cheeses. Proof that you really can have it all.

Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Some gluten-free buns are dense (we’re talking hockey puck-dense). Instead, these are airy and lightly sweet—the perfect match for your picnic-winning burgers.

Organic Ground Beef Patties 85:15

Speaking of all-star burgers, we have your pick right here. Grass-fed beef means premium flavor and well-marbled patties. The foundation for a picnic to remember.

Grainless Tortilla Chips

Zero grain, maximum crunch. Seasoned with a mix of sesame and poppy seeds, dried garlic and onion, and sea salt and fried in avocado oil, you can trust that these are the perfect partner for your preferred dip.

Organic Vegan Nacho Dip

Vegan cheese that tastes like… actual cheese? Vegan dreams do come true.

Gluten Free Joe-Joe’s Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies

Arguably the best Trader Joe’s product in the store’s entire inventory. That’s right—I said it and I’m not taking it back.

Image by Michelle Nash

What to Pack for an Indulgent French Picnic Spread

We tend to think of relatively light fare when we think of picnics. But when you’re al fresco dream looks like a scene from Marie Antoinette, it’s time to call in the Trader Jacques heavy hitters.

DII Diamond Throw Collection Cotton Woven Throw

If you’re hosting a French-inspired picnic, easygoing elegance is the goal. The good news is that this throw only looks expensive and will lay the groundwork for a chic fête to come.

The Beach People Insulated Picnic Basket

This unsuspecting, minimalist basket is filled with everything you need to come to your picnic prepared. The basket is fully insulated and the lid doubles as a cheeseboard. Genius, no?

Brut Rosé French Sparkling Wine

The closest thing to imbibing in a French vineyard. This classic, crisp, and clean sipper will save you the trip.

Mini French Baguettes

It’s well known that the best baguettes come from France. Good thing these are made by a French bakery—crusty, chewy bread you can trust.

Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage

These sausages’ smoky, spicy flavor can’t be beaten. They’re your ticket to a delicious, easy-to-prep picnic.

Whole Grain Dijon Mustard

The best mustards boast a bit of tang alongside the expected, spicy-sweet flavor. Bonus: Whole mustard seeds add a textural element that’ll only amplify everything you spread it on.

Mixed Mushroom & Spinach Quiche

We’re always down for assembling and baking a homemade quiche. But when you don’t have the time and are craving a bit of ease (relatable), this option always wins.

A Dozen Macarons Variés

The obvious choice for ending your Parisian picnic on a high note.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Ultimate Charcuterie Picnic

Ah, the most leisurely picnic of them all. No cooking—just slicing, organizing, and nibbling. Feel more than free to pair with your favorite wine.

Scuddles Extra Large Picnic & Outdoor Blanket

Classic stripes and charcuterie—is there anything better?

Chevre with Honey

Your favorite tangy goat cheese is made all the more delicious with a drizzle of honey. The options are endless when it comes to this cheese: spread it on crackers, use it to top your burger, or serve atop your salad.

Olive & Herbs Mixed Nuts

A little herby crunch goes a long way.

Spicy Uncured Charcuterie Collection

When you’re tasked with designing a charcuterie board to remember, you want to dedicate all your focus to aesthetics. Make it easy on yourself and pick up this trio of charcuterie classics.

Fig & Olive Crisps

Fruity, crispy, and tasty topped with just about anything—these crackers can truly do no wrong.

Beehive Promontory Cheese

Rich, creamy, and totally indulgent—this pick will be the star of your charcuterie board.

Cheddar & Gruyere Mélange Cheese

Cheddar may be basic, but when combined with a bit of nutty gruyere, get ready for beautiful, tasty magic to occur.

Greek Olive Medley

The best charcuterie boards benefit from a healthy dose of variety. This olive medley makes it happen.

Fig Butter

Just when you thought you’ve enjoyed any and all iterations of fruit and nut butter—fig butter steps in and steals the show.

Image by Hannah Haston

The Best Prepared Foods at Trader Joe’s for a Picnic

We weren’t about to do a roundup of the best picnic foods from Trader Joe’s without devoting an entire section to what the beloved grocer does best: prepared foods and killer dips. 

Swap out something in our curated lists for these bestsellers below—or simply supplement. You can’t go wrong with a parmesan pastry pup or two.

Vegan Tzatziki Dip

Even if you’re hosting a plant-based picnic, you shouldn’t have to miss out on the herby, tangy (and, of course, creamy) combo that is tzatziki. This dairy-free take is it.

Parmesan Pastry Pups

Presenting: the aforementioned Parmesan Pastry Pups. Pigs in a blanket, only better.

Broccoli & Kale Slaw

The perfect rainbowed base for all the best veggie-friendly picnic sides.

Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad

A picnic lifesaver if there ever was one. A mix of Moroccan-inspired couscous, parsley, mint, currants, peppery arugula, and lemony chicken. Oh, and don’t miss out on the spicy red pepper dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Football season came early this year, and we’re here for the snacks.

Shelled Edamame

A sprinkling of sea salt is all that’s needed to bring out edamame’s nutty, just-a-touch sweet flavor.

Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip

A picnic non-negotiable that’s irresistibly creamy without any dairy. The caramelized onions send this dip over the top.

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  1. 1
    Pamela Clark July 28, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    I had no idea I could get all those goodies at TJs. I’m headed there now!