Picnics aren’t just for summer, they’re a brilliant way to keep the whole family warm on chilly winter days too. So if you’re planning a wintry walk in the woods, why not dust off your picnic basket and get inspired with our ideas and recipes?

Hot drinks and soups

One of the easiest ways to keep toasty on winter adventures is with a hot drink, or some soup, in a flask. A steaming cup of hot chocolate is extra special when it's sipped in the middle of a frosty forest (especially when topped with mini marshmallows). Wrapping your hands around a warm mug will help defrost icy fingers too.

Fancy a change from tea or coffee? Try diluting squash with hot water to make a warming fruity drink, or have a go at our delicious mulled juice.

Mulled apple juice recipe

You will need:

  • 1 litre of apple juice or diluted squash
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • a few pieces of orange peel

Put all the ingredients into a pan and simmer gently for about ten minutes. Carefully remove the cinnamon, cloves and peel, and pour the liquid into a flask.

Hot food

A hearty snack will soon chase away the chill and help boost flagging energy levels. One-pot meals, like stews, will keep warm in a food flask. You can also make something that's easy to eat on the move like filled pitta breads or hot dogs.

Chilli pitta pockets

Cook up a chilli and put it in a food flask to keep warm. When you're ready to eat, open your pitta halves so they form pockets and pour some chilli into them. It’s a tasty alternative to a sandwich and you don’t need to take bowls and spoons with you.

Hot dogs

Kids love hot dogs, and you’ll find they taste even better outdoors. Cook some tinned hot dog sausages at home, then put them in a food flask topped up with just-boiled water to keep them warm. When you're hungry, carefully fish out the hot dogs and pop them inside bread rolls. (Remember to pat the sausages dry with some kitchen roll first to stop your bread getting soggy.) Add your favourite sauce and tuck in.

Jacket potatoes

This family favourite is another meal that works well outdoors. Keep baked potatoes warm for a couple of hours by wrapping them in foil and bundling them up in tea towels. Add hot baked beans and grated cheese. They'll have never tasted so good!

Top tips for exploring in winter

It goes without saying, but it's important to wear warm clothes on winter adventures. Remember that several layers are warmer than one thick item and easier to shed if kids get too hot running around. Wear an extra pair of socks to keep toes cosy and don’t forget a hat. If your hands get cold, you can eat your picnic wearing a pair of fingerless gloves.

These might be useful additions to your picnic basket too:

  • something waterproof to sit on – logs and picnic benches can stay damp in winter, even if the weather's dry
  • sanitising hand gel
  • kitchen roll (or napkins)
  • a rubbish bag to take your litter home
  • and don't forget to pack a couple of blankets to snuggle up in when you find your perfect picnic spot.
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