Tips for Planning the Perfect Picnic
Got a picnic coming up and want it to be special? Here are some great tips for planning the perfect picnic that are guaranteed to keep it stress-free!
Just about everyone loves a picnic and it’s easy to see why. These informal outdoor celebrations can be held just about anywhere, and for just about any reason (or no reason at all!). We all love picnics because they give us a chance to relax and be with the people we care about, sharing and creating memories over a delicious meal. And speaking of meals, the very best thing about picnics is the food! Whether it’s on a beach in the warm summer sun or on a leaf-carpeted lawn in the crisp autumn air, food just tastes better when you eat it outside! Go ahead…pick your day and place, and let’s plan the perfect picnic!
So, just what is the perfect picnic anyway? The answer is that it can be whatever you want it to be. From gourmet deli foods to a bucket of chicken, from botanical gardens to your own back yard, the perfect picnic is whatever you can imagine. The secret to ensuring your picnic is as perfect as you envisioned, is not to let your plans balloon into something more complicated than you originally intended. The keys to successfully carrying out your plan are to keep it simple, be organized and be prepared.
Keeping It Simple - Keeping your menu simple minimizes your work and frustration
- When planning the menu, choose foods that everyone likes, but don’t ask each person what they want, or you will end up bringing more food than you need (not to mention spending more money!). Offering a few really good choices is much better than trying to plan a menu that is everything to everyone.
- Consider a menu of mostly finger foods. Anything that needs a fork probably needs a plate and a serving spoon, and probably comes in a container. All these things will have to be disposed of or taken home to clean. Finger foods such as wraps or sandwiches, chips, veggies and dip, etc., will reduce not only the dishes and utensils you have to take with you, but also the ones you have to bring home to clean.
- Think about taking ready-made items from the deli and bakery at your local store. Some good rolls or artisanal bread, packaged sliced meats and cheeses, and a potato or pasta salad, plus some cookies or brownies from the bakery, and your picnic is practically done!
Getting Organized - Getting organized reduces stress and leaves you free to enjoy the picnic
- Make a list of everything you need to take. Keep it on the fridge and check items off as you pack them.
- Keep your picnic gear packed and ready to go in your picnic basket or tote bag so that all you have to do is add any last-minute items before you leave.
Being Prepared - Having these items ensures the picnic will go smoothly
- A picnic basket or tote bag for carrying non-perishable food and equipment.
- A good cooler or ice chest with wheels and a handle.
- A blanket, quilt, tablecloth or any other cover if you plan to eat on the ground, or if you will be using a public picnic table.
- Plates, cups, utensils and serving pieces
- Paper towels and napkins.
- Plastic bag for trash
- Plastic bag for used utensils and serving pieces.
- Any condiments you will need such as salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, relish, etc.
- Bug repellant and/or citronella candles
- First aid kit
- Matches or a lighter, charcoal and lighter fluid if grilling.
Try this super-easy and delicious menu for your next picnic. The chicken tastes good hot or cold, and since there is no mayo in the potato salad, you don’t have to be as concerned about food spoilage. In addition, the chocolate chip orange cake has no frosting so it’s easy to pack and won’t make a sticky mess. Add some raw veggies like carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes with ranch dip, and you have the perfect menu for your picnic!
Here are a few additional tips for ensuring your picnic will be perfect:
Tips for Serving and Packing - Make things easier and avoid disasters with these tips.
- Pack soft and easily-damaged foods such as cakes, deviled eggs, fruit or tomatoes in hard plastic containers with lids.
- Pack foods in the cooler or ice chest in the order in which they will be eaten, with first courses on the top and last courses on the bottom. This way you don’t have to unpack everything at once.
- Do your slicing and chopping at home if possible. It’s harder to do it once you are at the picnic, not to mention the fact that it means you have to drag along a knife and cutting board!
- Be prepared for a picnic anytime. Keep a picnic basket or hamper packed with basic picnic items such as plates, cups, utensils, salt and pepper, napkins, etc. Then all you have to do is pack any additional items, grab you cooler with the food, and go!
Food Safety - These tips will help you avoid food spoilage and reduce the risk of food poisoning.
- Keep eggs, dairy products, and uncooked meat chilled in the cooler or ice chest until just before cooking or serving.
- Pack food in cooler or ice chest just before leaving for the picnic.
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot!
- Do not transport partially-cooked foods as these are optimum conditions for bacteria to grow. Foods should either be completely cooked before leaving home, or cooked when you arrive at the picnic.
Now that you know how easy it is to plan the perfect picnic, we hope you decide to have one with your favorite people soon! Remember to keep it simple, be organized and be prepared, but most of all remember to have fun!
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