Last year we invited chefs to give us their best recipes for packing ice chests – this year we decided to take a different approach. Let’s ask moms!

The ability to bring in your own picnic is one of the greatest values at the family-owned and operated Schlitterbahn Waterparks. Schlitterbahn is the only large family of waterparks that still allows guests to bring in ice chests for free  – it’s a value no one appreciates more than moms. This summer Schlitterbahn asked family bloggers from around the country to take part in the Schlitterbahn Moms’ Ice Chest Challenge.  Bloggers submitted their favorite recipes for keeping their kids fed and their budgets intact. Dozens participated and everything looked amazing.

We picked our top four favorites (we just couldn’t narrow it down to three, like we planned because there were too many delicious options!): Smoked Chicken Salad, Schlitterbahn Stuffed Sammies, Candy Cookie Cake Bars, and Heavenly Pineapple Pie.

So with no further ado, let’s get to our winners and their amazing recipes!

Smoked Chicken Salad

Julia Simpson: Confessions of a Frugal Mind

(Ed note: No Schlitterbahn picnic should be without chicken salad. We loved this one!)

1 lb. smoked pulled chicken (we use leftover grilled chicken)
1/4 c. caramelized onions chopped
1/4 c. celery diced
2 T. fresh basil (dried works as well)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Serve on toasted bread or just enjoy with a fork.


Schlitterbahn Stuffed Sammies

Taryn Young: SA Busy Kids

(Ed Note: Our judges really liked the use of flatbread, and our team loved having a recipe named after us!)

Flatbread pockets

Deli meats and cheeses (the usual turkey/ham and cheese or try an Italian twist with salami, pepperoni, and provolone), peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey, tuna or chicken salad, lettuce, avocado or whatever other veggies float your boat!

Condiments such as mayo, mustard, hummus or oil & vinegar.

Pick your ingredients, stuff and you’re done!!

Pocket (or pita) sandwiches are easy peasy and can be customized for each family member.


Candy Cookie Cake Bars

Heather Terrell: Terrell Family Fun

(Ed Note: Unlike some cookies, these actually travel well, a requirement of any cooler trip!)


  • 3/4 Cup M&M’s or desired candy pieces
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips (any kind/flavor you like)
  • 1 Package of Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 Box of vanilla pudding (small box)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Note: Use cake mix & vanilla mix straight out of the package – do not prepare the mix as directed on the box.
  3. Pour the mixture into a non-stick or greased baking pan (I used 10×13)
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (I like mine a little fudge-like in the middle!)
  5. Let cool and cut into squares!


Heavenly Pineapple Pie

Gretta Johns: The Johns Family

(Ed Note:  Pie. ’nuff said.)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

14 oz. Eagle Brand condensed milk

1/2 cup lemon juice

8 oz. Cool Whip

15 oz. canned crushed pineapple, drained

1/2 cup pecan chips

2 graham cracker pie crusts

Combine cream cheese, Eagle Brand milk, and lemon juice.  Beat until smooth.

Stir in pineapple & pecans.

Fold in Cool Whip.

Divide mixture evenly between the two pie crusts.

Chill at least 4 hours in the refrigerator before serving.  (I found it tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator before serving.  The flavors seem to blend so much better that way).

Makes 8 slices per pie crust.