The family is starting to get cabin fever. All everyone can think about is eating outside, but it’s not quite warm enough. Next best option: step away from the dining room table and have an indoor picnic for your next family dinner. It's a win for the cook: a pro of picnic fare is that everything can be made in advance. And everyone will want to help with the setup: lay blankets on the floor or go next-level and pitch a tent indoors.
To eat, pack—yes, even though you’re eating indoors “pack” for a true picnic feel—an herby pasta salad in individual jars to up the picnic vibe. Assemble a sandwich—not just any sandwich but a giant one for the whole family to share. Serve this main with that picnic essential, potato salad; tonight’s version uses yogurt for a healthier take. Then for dessert, introduce your family to cowboy bars, the wilder, even more delicious cousin of dream bars.
Think of this moveable feast as prep for the real deal. This is a menu that you’ll want to make again when summer arrives.
To Drink: Extra-Lemony Lemonade
A refreshing glass of lemonade brings the essence of summer to your floor picnic. This recipe is one of Martha’s favorites, so you know you can’t go wrong. What makes it extra lemony? Lemon flavor is packed into this beverage in three different ways, using every part of the lemon.
Main & Sides: Pasta Salad, Pressed Sandwich, and Potato Salad
Serving this pasta salad in individual vessels makes it extra fun for the kids. Mason jars have become a picnic transportation mainstay, but similar jars, Tupperware, or small bowls work too.
Because it’s for dinner, we aren’t suggesting any ordinary sandwich. Our recipe is for an enormous, irresistible one that layers meat, cheese, and pickle-y items inside a hollowed-out boule. Bonus for the cook: it can be made up to 12 hours in advance. Cut the sandwiches into wedges like a pizza and serve. (Fresh fruit is entirely optional!)
Forget potato chips and make a healthier potato side. What makes this recipe healthier? The dressing is mainly yogurt, but you don’t have to tell your family if you don’t want to! This potato salad has all the creaminess of the classic but with less mayonnaise.
Dessert: Cowboy Coconut Bars
Sure you are eating inside and could enjoy just about anything for dessert, but picnics call for portable treats, and on the menu tonight is a crowd favorite, cowboy bars. If you are not familiar, they go something like this: press an oat-filled crust into a baking dish, sprinkle with coconut, chocolate, and nuts, and drizzle with a caramel sauce that holds everything in place. Bake, cool, and serve.
Serve the bars right out of a lidded container, just as if you’d toted them to the lake or beach, and let everyone help themselves. After dinner, place the lid on and see how long the bars last—we suspect it won’t be very long!