In the time of Covid-19, the frequency, and quite frankly, the need for outdoor events rose considerably. What used to be a tradition that only fell within the summer months now stretches all year long. We were looking for safe, fun ways to hang out and connect with our favorite bands, and outdoor concerts did not come to play.
But when attending an outdoor show, food vendors can be hard to come across or, more likely, incredibly expensive. Your wallet shouldn’t have to hurt just because you want some dinner.
Here at Flying Embers, we know how to have a good time in the great outdoors better than just about anyone. That’s why we put together this list of the best picnic foods to bring to your next concert, so all you have to worry about is enjoying the music.
Before You Go…
Don’t get ahead of yourself and pack the whole fridge in your cooler. First, you have to make sure the venue even allows outside food and beverages.
Not all venues are created equal, so it pays to do your research. Some will have concessions on the premises while still allowing you to have your own picnic on the lawn.
Some might have restrictions on some containers but allow others. For instance, a venue might allow food inside but not alcohol, which is a shame if you’re trying to sip on a Pineapple Chili hard kombucha.
Other venues might allow coolers or picnic baskets but draw the line at glass bottles. Luckily, that’s not something you have to worry about with one of our botanical blends.
Whatever the case may be, check the venue’s website or call ahead to cover your bases, so you don’t show up with a feast only to have to eat in your car because of regulations.
Showing Up and Showin’ Out
Arrive early to give yourself time to set up before the show starts. Space is at a premium at an outdoor concert, so give yourself time to stake your claim on the perfect, grassy spot. The doors to a venue usually open an hour or two before the act goes on, so take advantage of that time to find the prime location.
Pack light if you can. After lugging the first round of stuff in, nobody wants to go back to the car, which might be parked far away. What’s more, some venues don’t allow you to exit and return once you have entered.
Try to keep it to one, well-packed Flying Embers Reversible Park Bag with plastic containers that stack and won’t break. A cooler on wheels is also great if allowed. It can even double as a seat.
When deciding what foods to pack, be a little picky and choose items that will hold up well. Salads can get soupy, cookies will turn to dust, and anything you have to eat with a fork and a knife should be an immediate pass so you don’t have to juggle a plate on your lap. Foods that you can munch on without a surface are ideal.
Remember to bring something for storing trash in case there are no trash cans close by, because littering is not it.
Stock your bag or basket with plates, napkins, utensils, cups or glasses, and anything else so that when it’s time to dig in, you have everything you might need.
No event is complete without the perfect selection of snacks. Gather baby carrots, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes and throw them into a Ziploc or Tupperware. Obviously, there must also be a dip, because we’re not lunatics.
Charcuterie or a cheese board is a cute, classic option, especially if this concert happens to also be a date or a girls’ night. Slice cheese and fruit ahead of time since trying to get something sharp into a venue is not advised, and cutting is difficult without a table. Fancy French cheeses, grapes, a few carefully selected cracker options… There’s nothing better.
Charcuterie just so happens to pair perfectly with our Grapefruit Thyme hard kombucha, too, since the aromatic notes of the thyme offset the savory flavors of your board.
Nothing quite says summer and outdoor concerts like pasta salad. Toss it in a Tupperware and enjoy it straight out of the container.
Pasta salad gives you the opportunity to taste the rainbow—and we’re not talking about those brightly colored candies. Fill your bowl with veggies of all colors: orange peppers, green cucumber or zucchini, bright red cherry tomatoes, and maybe a sprig or two of broccoli. You can even make it the day off and toss in a protein like shrimp or chicken to boost the nutrition factor.
To make your pasta salad a little healthier, skip the traditional mayo-based dressing for a lighter version made from oil and vinegar.
If you’re not into the “pasta” in pasta salad, consider swapping it out for zoodles or lightly sauteed carrot noodles. It’s time to put the spiralizer in the back of your cabinet to work (or just buy the premade kind, because who has time for all that?).
Any food you can eat with your hands is ideal for outdoor concerts, and sandwiches are the ultimate finger food. Avoid any meat or topping that might make the bread soggy, though. We’re looking at you, pickles.
If you need that tasty pickle crunch to get through a sandwich, pack them separately in a Ziploc and add them when you arrive.
Wraps are also perfect choices since they keep everything from falling out and can be eaten with just a hand. Fill them with succulent roasted veggies, vegan chickpea salad, or Mexican-inspired grilled chicken for a flavor-packed meal that just so happens to be portable. Choose lettuce wraps for an extra boost of veggie-based nutrients.
If you have a sweet tooth, pack rice crispy treats or brownies for easy satisfaction. Both will hold up well in a cooler or bag. You can add extra moisture and a little health boost by including some shredded zucchini in your brownies, and you won’t even notice the taste (seriously).
For a sweet treat that’s on the healthier side, consider packing a fresh fruit salad, or even coating apple or banana slices in dark chocolate, as long as the weather isn’t too hot. No, we’re not drooling—why do you ask?
No outdoor adventure is complete without the right drinks. If allowed at the venue, make sure to save some space for one of our botanical brews. They’re crisp, clean, refreshing, and effervescent—the perfect pairing for an outdoor concert and your favorite music.
Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check It Out | USDA.gov.
The Myth of Grapes and Cheese | The Spruce Eats