Gourmet Picnic on a Budget

Picnic for under $40 and as low as $15!

picnic on a budget

Picnic for my cousin’s birthday

Summer is my all-time favorite season because there are just so many reasons to enjoy the great outdoors! One of the best and most affordable things to do in the summer is to grab a friend or friends (the more the merrier ūüôā ) and a blanket and head to your favorite park for a picnic day! Here are a few tips to impress your friends with a Pinterest worthy spread and show-off your “gourmet” picnic skills for as low or as $15 bucks! If you already have some of the necessary supplies at home, it can be even less than that! It’s really up to you what you want to include in your picnic and where you choose to shop for the items.

Most of the supplies you will need you can actually find at your local dollar store! I think the dollar store is absolutely fantastic, and I can often be spotted strolling down the “seasonal” isle snatching up all the seasonal goodies they carry for every holiday you can possibly think of! ¬†The 99 cents only store (my local dollar store) is also my #1 supplier for party supplies as I tend to do a lot of entertaining.

Here is what you will need for your picnic:

– loaf of bread

– mayo & mustard

– lettuce

– sliced cheese

– your choice of deli meat

– fruit of choice (as many different kind as you would like)

– Water or Juice ( I prefer flavored sparkling water in lieu of soda or juice)

– Party snack tray and/or humus tray (optional)

Р Artisan cheese wedge & crackers (optional)

– Chocolate bar for dessert (optional)

– Trader Joe’s “Two-buck chuck” wine (optional)

– Colored paper plates, cups, napkins, and utensils

With the Exception of the artisan cheese, humus, and party snack tray, you can find all of the listed items at your local dollar store as most dollar stores now carry fresh produce & deli selections. Unfortunately the only place I’ve been able to find the party snack tray is at Target and Food-4-Less. When I’m not on a super tight budget I prefer to Shop at Trader Joe’s for the fresh fruit, humus, artisan cheese, chocolate bar and flavored mineral water. The great thing about a picnic is you can add or subtract as much as you want ¬†and¬†make this as cheap as you need. The suggestions above are¬†just a guideline for you, make it your own!

Here is what my under $40 basket usually looks like:



Homemade Sandwiches ~ $6 for all ingredients can yield about 10-12 sandwiches

Again, you may customize your sandwich to liking, but I usually keep it pretty simple and skip the tomato because I find it doesn’t keep well when not eaten immediately and since I live in LA I know it will take me at least 20min to transport them to my preferred picnic location. My sandwiches usually contain¬†deli chicken, lettuce, cheddar, light mayo & yellow mustard on wheat bread and it cost $1 to buy all six of these ingredients at the dollar store, but a one loaf of bread will yield about 10-12 sandwiches. It might be under or over $6 however depending on what ingredients you already have at home or choose to add. As shown in the fist picture, I sometimes use my cookie cutters to make heart-shaped sandwiches or whatever cookie cutter pattern I already own to make it just a little more festive!

Hormel Snack Tray

hormel-party-tray¬†These are delicious and really affordable. You can go with the pepperoni or the turkey snack tray for $5.99 at Target and I’ve also found a generic brand at¬†Food-4-Less for about the same price, although sometimes you can find $3 off coupons making it only $2.99 for the tray! ¬†Click here¬†to visit the “Raining hot coupons” blog for more info.

Humus & Crackers


This is my favorite brand of humus which goes for $3.99 at Trader Joe’s, but again you can find humus at Target or your local grocery store for under $2.00. It all just a matter of preference. You can find a variety of crackers now including multigrain at the dollar store. I usually opt for cracker and not chips or pita because then I can use the crackers for the cheese. Also if you are planning to pick up a Party Snack Tray, keep in mind that it already comes with crackers ;-).

Artisan Cheese & crackers


As low as $6.99 and up to $9.99 depending on how many oz it is.

I love spanish cheeses and Manchego is my cheese of choice for a picnic because it’s texture and solidness makes it a great finger food. I usually pre-slice the whole wedge and transfer to a plastic container so its ready to eat at when it comes out of the basket. The $6.99 price is usually for about 9.5 ounces which is plenty trust me. If you skipped the humus and Party Snack Tray, make sure to pick up a package of crackers at your local dollar store.

Fresh Fruit


About $4 for a whole (small) watermelon & cantaloupe at TJ’s

A picnic would not be complete with out some fresh fruit. Whether Its strawberries, cherries, grapes, apples, oranges, mango, pineapple… It’s really up to you what you want to bring along to snack on, the possibilities are endless! Because It’s summer, I usually like to go with refreshing seasonal fruit like watermelon and cantaloupe. I usually will pick up a small whole watermelon & cantaloupe at Trader Joe’s for about $2.00 each. I cut each in half, and save each of the halves for later and dice up whats left to transfer into a container to bring to the picnic. They do however sell the pre-cut fruit as shown above at Trader Joes for about $3.00. I just like to have extra in the fridge to enjoy at a later date. You can also find fresh fruit in the produce section of the dollar store. I’ve seen strawberries, blueberries, black berries, raspberries, mango, apples, oranges, and even papaya at my local dollar store.

Flavored Sparkling Water


0.79c for 16oz Orange Flavor – TJ’

Don’t forget something to drink! Again, the choices are endless here, it’s all up to you. I really like the orange flavored mineral water at Trader Joe’s. It’s a really healthy alternative to soda or juice and because its flavored & carbonated I feel like it sort of tricks your brain into thinking its soda. I often drink a glass of this when I get the craving for soda and it usually works to satisfy that hankering.¬†And at 0.79 cents a bottle?! Sold!

Making this a grown-up Picnic? 


“Two-buck-Chuck” @ Trader Joe’s

Don’t forget your “Two-buck-Chuck” for a little extra grown-up fun! While prices just went up and it’s technically now $2.99-buck-chuck, Charles Shaw is still the best deal out there for wine in my opinion! For a summer picnic I would recommend something a little lighter like the Chardonnay or my personal fave, the white Zinfandel (the pink one shown above). You have to be really careful when sneaking alcohol to a picnic as it’s illegal at most parks and beaches to consume alcoholic beverages on the premises, but well It can and has been done. This is where your *solid colored cups will come in handy! As long as you aren’t being stupid or too rowdy you should be fine, because if you don’t give a park ranger or other authority figure a reason to assume you are indeed inebriated, they wont come to that assumption. *Always drink responsively and NEVER drink & drive!*



$1.99 – Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s Swiss Dark Chocolate is to die for!! This bar will not disappoint as it is packed full of delicious whole hazelnuts! It is the perfect dessert for a picnic because its light, yet rich and satisfying all at the same time! While any chocolate bar will do, and you have a wide variety to choose from at the dollar store, I highly recommend trying this bar of chocolate for any occasion!

Colored Paper Plates, Cups, Napkins & Utensils


About $4 for plates, cups, napkins, utensils – Dollar Store

You can find all of the above in almost any color your heart desires at the dollar store! And yes that includes even colored utensils like the ones shown above. This is obviously not necessary, but It will add a little pizzaz to your spread. In my opinion this is what will set your picnic spread stand out, a simple touch of color will have people singing you praises.

For my cousin’s birthday surprise picnic I picked up some really cute tiki themed plates and napkins and used some left over pink utensils I already had at home. I also splurged a bit and bought each of us a plastic coconut cup for our grown-up drinks ūüėȬ†(see first picture)

My basket total came out to:



¬† ¬†¬†I got my insulated picnic cooler bag from TJ Maxx for about $9.99. My basket is similar to the one above except the color scheme is lime green & teal¬†But any picnic basket you might already own is just fine. Even grocery bags or a tote bag will do the trick. I really wouldn’t worry about buying a picnic bag/basket unless you want to invest in one because you plan on picnicking throughout the summer.¬†


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