Plan for the best summer events ever—grill days, hiking, camping, and picnics—with this Best Plant-Based Food Guide for Summer Events, in order to create fabulous, memorable meals for the journey.
Summer is the time to embrace delicious seasonal, plant-based flavors that leave us feeling cool and refreshed. But it takes a little planning to make your favorite summertime events sparkle with good taste and health, right? So, this plant-based food guide to the best ever summer events shares our top tips on how to plan fabulous foods for everything summer has to offer—warm grill days, relaxing hikes, adventurous camping trips, and flavorful picnics—without sacrificing fun, nutrition, or convenience! Incorporating plant-based eating into your summer plans is easier than you think. All it takes is a little bit of time, organization, and creativity. Kick off your summer with confidence and get ready to give the traditions you’ve come to know and love a plant-based upgrade that everyone can enjoy—especially you!
BEST Plant-Based Food Guide for Summer Events
Get Your Grill Days On
Outdoor grilling events are often associated with meat and salty snacks, but the grill can be used for so much more. Soy-based recipes, like edamame veggie burgers and spicy sesame tofu are great choices for your next outdoor gathering. And don’t forget veggies and even fruits make fabulous grill highlights.
Tips For Your Next Plant Based Grill Day
1. Load Up on Grilled Vegetables. Grilled vegetables are the perfect side dish for a summer grill day. They’re crisp and rich in nutrients and flavor. You can even use your veggie leftovers for fajitas or a savory pasta dish.
2. Make Homemade Condiments. If you have a few minutes to spare, homemade condiments can save you money and allow you to control the sodium content of your meals. Mayonnaise, green goddess dressing, and curry lemon vinaigrette are all easy, delicious companions for your next burger or salad.
3. Save Room for Dessert. Eating plant-based doesn’t mean ignoring your sweet tooth! Indulge in some naturally sweet treats and get your daily serving of fruit by making some cool fruit and veggie popsicles or a warm fruit skillet cobbler.
Fuel Your Hiking Journey
Summer is the perfect time to break out your boots and hit the trails. The weather is perfect and there’s so much to explore while getting in a great workout. If you’re trying to eat plant-based on the trail, you need to plan ahead and pack light.
Tips for Plant-Based Summer Hikes
1. Make Your Own Snacks. Oat bars, trail mix, and energy bites are portable snacks packed with the energy you need to have a great hike. Skip the store-bought versions and make your own to save money and avoid unwanted ingredients.
2. Bring Some Cool Snacks. Packing light doesn’t mean you can’t bring a cooler or insulated bag to enjoy some refreshing treats. Hummus and crackers and baked falafels are mess-free hiking snacks that are perfect for a quick lunch on the trail.
3. Stay Hydrated. Take breaks as needed to hydrate yourself on the trail. Be friendly to the environment and pack a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic one to help regulate the temperature of your water on long treks.
Camping with Finesse
Whether you’re setting up a tent or bringing along an RV, camping is a great way to take a break from life and fully embrace the world around you. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to break out of your cooking comfort zone and try easy plant-based camping recipes.
1. Try New Ways to Make Old Favorites. There’s nothing cozier than a campfire and a warm meal with loved ones out in nature. Before starting your trip, make a list of some of your favorite meals that use the oven, stove, or microwave and give them a campfire makeover. Vegetarian Chili, Lentil Quinoa Soup, and Maple and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts are some indoor meals that you can re-create with a campfire without much effort.
2. Embrace Grains. Grains are an easy way to stay satiated while camping. Oats, buckwheat, and barley are grains that are sure to keep you satisfied while exploring the great outdoors. Try making overnight oats ahead of time, and stock them for go-to breakfasts.
3. Stock Up on Produce. Apples, bananas, and oranges are perfect snacks for camping, as they come with nature’s own protective peels. They’re nutrient dense and don’t require any refrigeration or preparation to enjoy. You can even enjoy them in campfire-friendly recipes like Instant Pot Banana Brown Rice Pudding and Orange Ginger Carrots which can be roasted in the fire!
Plates? Check. Picnic Blanket? Check. Cooler? Check. With so much to pack for your picnic it can be easy to forget the star of the show, the food! Luckily, it’s easy to make a plant-based picnic menu. Plant-based foods are naturally lightweight, nutritious, and flavorful making them perfect for a relaxing sunny day.
1. Pick a Main Dish. Sandwiches, wraps, and pasta salads are great options for picnics. They’re packed with protein and vegetables, making them light and satisfying but not heavy enough to overshadow other picnic dishes.
2. Decide Your Sides. The possibilities for sides are endless. From tasty Tabbouleh to spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, sides are your chance to explore savory summer textures and flavors.
3. Bring Something Sweet. Accompany your picnic with a sweet summer treat by bringing along some refreshing Ginger Pink Lemonade or a few slices of a Rhubarb Strawberry Dark Chocolate Tart to end your meal.
Written by Cara Joseph, dietetic intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN
Photos: Sharon Palmer, RDN
Did you enjoy this food guide? Check out more summertime plant-based meal planning:
Plant-Based Eating on the Hiking Trail
30 Plant-Based Camping Recipes
40 BEST Plant-Based RV Recipes