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Olympic lunchboxes that pass muster - and security

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Deborah Reddihough Deborah Reddihough | 11:33 UK time, Friday, 20 July 2012

If you’ve managed to bag tickets for the forthcoming games but don’t want to pay the high prices for food and drinks when you arrive, what are your options? With prices as high as £1.60 for a small bottle of water and £5.90 for a tuna salad, taking a packed lunch seems an appealing alternative. And then there’s the inevitable queues to consider…

To be fair, despite the headlines about junk food’s dominance at the games, there will be a wide variety of food available at most venues, so, even if it is pricey, you’re unlikely to be cornered into eating junk food. The organisers have taken pains to ensure special diets are also catered for, meaning gluten-free, vegetarian, halal and kosher food will all be on sale.

Gold millionaire shortbread

Gold medal millionaire shortbreads: a guaranteed winner.

For those who prefer homemade food or want to save money take note: security at the games is going to be very tight – the gate policy will be similar to that of an international flight. This means you need to take a few things into account when planning your picnic:

  • No liquids over 100ml/3½fl oz allowed (which includes yoghurts and ice packs).
  • No alcohol.
  • Food must be for personal consumption (I wouldn’t recommend one person carrying a picnic for the whole family).
  • Only one soft-sided bag allowed per person (of 25 litre capacity or less – approximately the size of a small rucksack). Crucially, it must be small and flexible enough to squash under your seat in the venue – so no picnic baskets or cool boxes!
  • No glass bottles (except for medication).
  • Cutlery should be considered carefully – make it disposable and, obviously, leave the knives at home.
  • Baby food, baby milk and sterilised water are allowed into venues but must be carried in containers with a maximum capacity of 1 litre per baby.
  • The security measures at football games are tighter than the rest of the events, so if you have tickets for a game it’s strongly advised that you do not take any bags with you.

If you’re one of the people who thinks a picnic just isn’t a picnic without a trestle table and deck chairs then you’re probably best passing on this one, but if like me you love the simple pleasures of tasty homemade sandwiches, a hunk of pie and maybe a slice of cake then there’s plenty to be enjoyed without coming a cropper at security.

Firstly, a few tip offs. Taking drinks in with you is out of the question, but free water is available from drinking fountains inside the venues and you’re allowed to take an empty plastic bottle with you.  Queues are expected and all bags will be thoroughly searched. To make the process as smooth as possible, ensure all your belongings are easy to check and store any food in clear plastic bags or cling film - tin foil is a definite no-no as it’s likely to set off the metal detectors.

When it comes to the actual food, think about the perishability of your picnic. You won’t be able to take a cool box with you, unless you have a small freezable cool bag, so any food you take needs to keep well when stored at room temperature (or even warmer if the sun decides to come out of hiding).

Ever popular couscous and pasta salads are an obvious choice with myriad variations available, our Feta, rocket and olive pasta salad is super tasty and can be made in a flash. And pasties, sausage rolls and pork pies are a real winner being so easily portable and satisfying, no matter what the weather brings.

If you want to try something different from the usual sandwiches, savoury cakes are a French picnic favourite and travel very well. Try Rachel Khoo’s Cheese, pistachio and prune cake or Antonio Carluccio’s delicious Beetroot layer cake.  And don’t forget the British picnic classics of Game pie and quiche.

Treats are literally a piece of cake. Avoid anything filled with cream but beyond that the choices are endless. Simple, unadorned cakes work best of all, such as Banana cake, Orange and almond cake or Parkin, but most cakes, fairy cakes and biscuits will be fine. If you’re keen to get into the Olympic spirit, try our Gold medal millionaire shortbreads or a slice of Velodrome coffee cake. For less-sugary snacks, nuts, granola bars and savoury muffins all fit the bill.

And if you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets, you can always join in the fun by throwing an Olympics party at home.

Did you manage to get tickets for the Olympics and, if so, are you planning on taking a packed lunch with you? Is price a factor or do you just prefer homemade food? Is anyone protesting about the sponsors by refusing to buy the food on sale in the Olympic venues?


  • Comment number 1.

    Actually what I found most disturbing (besides the exorbitant prices you mention!) is that McDonalds are preventing Olympic retailers from selling chips unless it's part of a fish and chips meal.. talk about commercial overkill!

  • Comment number 2.

    3 people traveling together- one diabetic, one diary intolerant, one veggie with no gluten and other food allergies. We are providing for the diabetic amongst our bags and the third person will survive off water and fruit providing of course they let me in with a bag of apples. the diary intolerant one gets it easy!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm so glad I'm not interested in the Olympic Games; I got anxious just reading about the security over your sandwiches....

    Really what a ludicrous situation to get into.

  • Comment number 4.

    Is the 100ml. limit for lquids in total,or per bottle i.e. could a total of,say,one litre be
    taken in?
    I was under the impression that monopolies were illegal in this country--how come
    Coke et al. are allowed to get away with no other products being allowed?
    Hope the actual games are better than the farce of the lead-up.

  • Comment number 5.

    @Emma they have paid a LOT of money to have first dibs at providing products so that is what they are doing.
    @nanc1 they should do but there are many many options in the park so you can buy stuff should you need to
    @3Mitch I'm sure the people that were next to the shoe and pant bomber don't think security is a bad thing now
    @david 100ml a bottle, maximum of 10 bottles so theoretically yes but whats the point when they provide water for free. Again, they paid a lot of money for the rights to do this, that money made the tickets up to a 1/4 of the price they would have been. Have you been to any major event in the last decade? Try Wembley for example. High prices and only the approved products available. This isn't something new, just so many people never seem to go anywhere are now going to the Olympics and kicking off.
    The games will be amazing but the tube will be mental!

  • Comment number 6.

    I am disgusted with the dictator like actions and rules by companies like McDonalds , Coca Cola and LOCOG. It reminds me of all the propaganda I used to hear about the terrible controls on life in the old Soviet Union or China. British taxpayers are actually one the biggest sponsers of the Olympics (9.3 bn and counting)so if I go to an olympic event I should be allowed to bring my KFC or Burger King and Pepsi if I prefer them to coca-cola and mcdonalds. Buisnesses should be allowed to have Gold, Silver and Bronze deals and such if they think that will help sales. What a lie it will be when most media parrot LOCOGs matra that the games are about the competition. The Olympic Committee should be stood up to and told that there not welcome in this country if they don't support free speech, free enterprise or free individual choice. Same goes for sponsors like coke and mcdonalds.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry to pick up on your Bukleyschance, but i keep seeing posts over all BBC sites regarding the cost. All the infrastructure has been paid for by the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) totalling roughly £7bn, and part of the government therefore the yes, taxpayer. The other £2.3bn. has been used to actually put on the games themselves within that infrastructure. All private sponsorship raised by LOCOG and therefore the reason why there are sponsors. Personally, my local football team charge extortionate prices and of course its not good but expected.
    Lets just get behond them...your allowed plenty of food if sensible. Safety is a fair reason and just enjoy 3 weeks which will never be repeated.
    I like many people (who tend not to post on sites) cannot wait! GO TEAM GB!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    BBC World carries a little film explaining that after the Canadian Games in 1984(?) such was the imbalance between sponsors and cost it took 30years to pay off the debt. So the Olympic organisers introduced TOP (The Olympic Partners) a group of MegaMoney Sponsors that big Businesses could join. What they get for their money is exclusivity so the Olympic Organisers are desperate to show this is the case hence the draconian enforcement. Added to that the uniquely British Overzealousness of applying petty rules (eg the Community Police Officer who banned a butcher for displaying sausages arranged in olympic rings) and you get this stupid situation. The sensible announcement by theOlympic Cheif will I am afraid fall on deaf ears, and the members of TOPs I think should take note that whille their sponsorship is appreciated, they may encounter more hostility than they bargained for.
    And what about Kodak? A major sponsor at all previous Games and on record as saying the Olympics is THE biggest and best platform for promotion ever. I imagine they were going to be involved at 2012. If so, how has their demise affected the money?

  • Comment number 9.

    MacDonalds don't sell chips, they sell french fries. They are thin, crisp matchsticks of potato rather than the thicker, traditional, English chips which may be crisp on the outside but are soft in the middle. MacDonalds may have the exclusive right to sell French Fries but that should not extend to proper chips. By the way, The Olympic Games aren't delivered, they are staged, arranged, organised, held or just put on. Why do they have to be so pretentious about it?

  • Comment number 10.

    The worrying thing about this is the precedent it creates, that a venue operator may search bags and steal items from visitors.

    I have no intention of going anywhere near the Olympics, but fear that lesser venues will see this as an excuse to implement similar racketeering exercises.

  • Comment number 11.

    "The worrying thing about this is the precedent it creates, that a venue operator may search bags and steal items from visitors."

    All venues have the right to search your bags and forbid you to take specified items inside - as long as they make it part of the terms and conditions of sale for the ticket

    They always have done; they have been reserving the right to search for drugs, alcohol, and weapons for as long as I have been going to sports/music events, and that's a long time. As long as they tell you (in the small print) that's their policy before you buy the ticket, it becomes part of your contract with them. You agree to the contract by buying a ticket

    And they have been removing alcohol from football fans on football special trains for even longer than that - since the 1960s I believe.

  • Comment number 12.

    @Stokey Sue - I agree with you 100% in terms of the right of a venue operator to search bags for security reasons.... I'd rather be safe and bear the small inconvenience.

    What would be more worrying to me is if any precedent is set for random searches outside the venue (passersby etc).

  • Comment number 13.

    I made Olympic Pizza Rings! Very healthy made with peppers and mushrooms and cucumbers dyed blue!, kids loved them too. Any other Olympic food ideas? Can I upload a photo


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