It’s that time of year when almost every plan you make seems to involve reference to a picnic or a packed lunch. Whether it’s fuel you take to work, dishes for a day out or a relaxed meal in the garden, AJ Sharp has been checking out what’s new, exciting, healthy and, most of all, delicious…

Upside down picnic
If you’ve ever watched a child eat a packed lunch without supervision they usually start with the sweet things and finish with the savoury, so we thought we would design a reverse packed lunch – and it seems we are bang on trend.

Starting sweet, the best-tasting ‘no added sugar’ snacks we tried were made by Squirrel Sisters. The range includes cacao orange natural raw bites, which are perfect for sharing, or energy boosting raspberry ripple or cacao brownie flavoured natural energy bars. Zoo Imagination has created a range of flavourful crunchy dinosaur shaped biscuits, which are both gluten and lactose free, perfect to share with friends. Fruit Bowl range is a firm favourite on a picnic; delicious fruit sweets which have the bonus of making up one of your five-a-day.

Spice up the savoury
No army social is complete without curry. What better than a hand-held option from Jake & Nayns’ Naansters – naan breads filled with curries and not nearly as messy as they sound.

If you like extra spice, consider packing a bit more punch with Encona chilli sauce. Choose from Sweet Chilli or Carolina Reaper Chilli (not suitable for children) to really liven up your afternoon.

Finish at the start, with home-cut crudities, a pot of hummus, a Laughing Cow cheese triangle or an original Babybel.

To be truly on trend this year you need to be plant-powered. The newest plant-based cake range has been created by Alternative Foods and comes in four flavours: victoria sponge, lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge cake and salted caramel.

If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, look no further than Free From Fellows range of traditional classics sweets, like midget gems or cola bottles, made without sugar, gluten or gelatine.

A little tonic
Give your picnic some style with a miniature gin and tonic. There are many artisan gins, but none so evocative as the poppy seed botanical inclusion in Tommy’s Gin from Isle of Sky Distillers.

The spirit is available in miniature bottles and eponymously named in memory of distillery co-founder Tommy Wilson, who served in the Suez invasion and passed away in 2016. This limited-edition bottle honours the memory of all Tommies that have served and, for every bottle sold, a donation is made to a military charity.

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