What to Bring to Your Labor Day Picnic - Quicken Loans Zing BlogWhere did summer go? August is almost over, kids are going back to school and Labor Day is fast approaching. The chances of you going to a Labor Day picnic are probably really high. But what about the chance of you bringing something other than the same dish you took to all the other picnics? Here’s how to switch it up this year and bring a dish with a new twist on the traditional picnic choices.

Pasta Salad

I love pasta; so going to picnics for me is heaven because there are always at least five different kinds of pasta salad. If there isn’t pasta salad, you are at the wrong picnic. The thing is, unless someone is being really creative, they all start to taste the same. Try something new—instead of going with the traditional Italian flavor, be inspired by a Greek salad. Use some oil-based Greek dressing, toss in some olives and load it up with feta cheese. You could even add small pieces of artichoke to give it a twist. Pretty much any regular salad can be turned into a pasta salad—think Caesar dressing, rotini noodles, grilled chicken and fresh Parmesan cheese. Or, think bacon. A BLT is good in any form, especially pasta. Check out that recipe here.

Potato Salad

I guess picnics are a good excuse to make salads a carbohydrate lover’s dream. This summer, ditch the dill or the mustard and make a loaded baked potato salad. Cube up several potatoes and add bacon, green onions, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and salt and pepper. It’s pretty basic, just like a baked potato—but put in potato salad form. Have you ever tried sweet potato salad? I haven’t. But I really want to. Here’s a recipe to drool over.


I never have room on my plate by the time I make it to the dessert, but don’t fear—I always go back. Brownies and cookies are delicious, but it might be time for something different.  Put Nutella in the brownies or chunks of pretzels in your chocolate chip cookies. Instead of chocolate covered strawberries, stuff those strawberries with cheesecake and sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top. This is my favorite idea—a s’more bar. No not bar as in chocolate bar, bar as in salad bar. Have a plate of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow fluff and let people create their own s’more without the fire. (Or if you really liked the idea of an actual S’more bar, look here).


Twist up a classic beverage. I love cherry coke—but picnics rarely have it because diet and regular usually suffice. Instead of bringing a two liter, put coke, cherry grenadine, and a bunch of maraschino cherries in a punch bowl or glass decanter to make your own picnic-worthy cherry coke. Chances are, there will be a lot of watermelon already, so why not make yours into a drink? Put the sliced up watermelon in the blender and blend. Add in some water, but you won’t have to add much. It’s delicious alone, but some mint or lemon, or even another flavorful fruit like raspberries to give it an extra kick.

Labor Day pays tribute to the achievements of American workers. What’s a better way to celebrate that than with a day off at a picnic with great food? If you’ve already planned what you’re taking to your picnic—think about how you can twist it up and make it better.


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  1. We love picnics and this year’s Labor Day was a perfect opportunity to go to our favorite High Park in Toronto and have a little fun with our children. But now that I’ve read your post I am looking forward to our next trip even more and I’ll definitely take some of the dishes you mention.

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