Give the term "packing light" new meaning with a few of our simple swaps that help lighten the load. By: Maureen Callahan, MS, RD
June 16, 2015
1 of 8Photo: Jennifer Causey
Build a Better Picnic Party
Nothing beats an impromptu outdoor meal with friends, family, and a blanket full of make-ahead picnic fare. But the classic basket of fried chicken, submarine sandwiches, cold pasta salad, and crunchy munchies can quickly turn that one meal into a day's worth of calories. Fill your basket with these smarter swaps and save 900 calories.
Cut dessert bars into a slimmer but still satisfying 2-inch square instead of the classic bakery-style 3-inch square, and you'll cut calories, fat, and saturated fat by more than half.
Savings: 178 calories and 6g fat per square.
3 of 8Photo: Jennifer Causey
Keep the Veggies, Skip the Heavy Dip
Creamy ranch-style dips contain 150 calories and 250mg sodium per 2 tablespoons—nearly negating all those veggie benefits. For a better-but-still-creamy option with half the calories, try classic hummus, which also delivers a healthy dose of fiber and protein.
Savings: 80 calories and 120mg sodium.
4 of 8Photo: Jennifer Causey
Unpack the Pasta Salad
The classic mayo-based pasta salad may be portable, but it's heavy. A cup will set you back 470 calories and 33g fat! Instead, pack our Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Farro, which combines whole grains and fresh summer veggies. It's light, bright, and made with a flavorful vinaigrette instead of mayo. Make-ahead and portable, too.
What's a picnic without a few chips to munch? Skip the salty potato chips and try a fiber-rich bean-based variety instead. They shake on far less salt than potato chips but have double the protein and six times the fiber.
Savings: 115mg sodium. Bonus: You'll add 5g fiber and 2g protein per serving.
6 of 8Photo: Jennifer Causey
Half & Half the Drinks
With 2 tablespoons of sugar per cup, a glass of lemonade can set you on the fast track to sugar shock. Instead, make a spritzer by mixing equal parts lemonade and sparkling water to cut sugar and calories in half. Or make it a shandy and swap the water for light beer and just 30 extra calories.
Savings: 60 calories and 14g sugar for spritzer; 30 calories and 14g sugar for shandy.
7 of 8Photo: Jennifer Causey
Slim Down the Sub Sandwich
Those impressive layers of cheese, mayo, and salty meats make for a portable calorie bomb. Use whole-grain bread, reduce the cheese and meat by half, and add bulk with crisp greens and veggies. Spread bread with hummus instead of mayo and save 75 calories per tablespoon; then slice into smarter 3-inch portions.
Savings: 350 calories, 10g sat fat, and 1,300mg sodium.
8 of 8Photo: Jennifer Causey
Oven-Fry the Bird
The average deep-fried chicken thigh and drumstick combo weighs in at 410 calories and 28g fat. Remove the skin to save 12g fat per serving, and then bake the breaded bird on a wire rack to avoid soggy bottoms and to ensure a crisp crust.