Summertime means taking typical indoor activities and giving them a fresh air twist. From backyard movie nights to patio workdays, the milder weather encourages us to get outside and soak up the sun all day long. That, of course, translates to mealtime, too. Putting together a summer picnic is the best excuse to get family and friends together to break bread in a whole new setting, whether it be a park, a concert venue or the beach.
But prepping for a summer picnic can be a bit challenging if you’re used to hanging out indoors. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about preparing for a summer picnic, from picking out stylish tableware to deterring bugs from munching on your appetizers.
- Pack Like a Pro with All the Essentials — Step one of being a professional picnicker is to learn how to pack your picnic basket like a pro. With all those spill-prone foods and drinks, you’ve got to think a bit differently about packing for an outdoor meal. Consider having an easy-to-carry picnic basket, wine and cheese cooler or backpack with a flat bottom that will keep containers safe from leakage. Here are some essentials to prepare so you don’t forget anything:
- Choose your blanket wisely. The picnic blanket is quite literally the foundation upon which you will build your portable table. Pick a blanket that’s washable and not too precious, because it will be coming into contact with dirt, bugs and food.
- Go for sturdy plates and utensils. Picnics are about as casual as you can get, so no need to bring your fancy plates. Instead, opt for sturdy plates, forks and knives that aren’t likely to break in transit. These are also easy to rinse after dinner.
- Consider the bento box. We’ve been seeing a lot of pro picnickers use bento boxes to create on-the-go charcuterie boards and snack plates that won’t spill in transit. So smart!
- Pack plastic glassware. It’s the same deal here! Avoid bringing any fragile glasses that could be dropped in transit. It might make more sense to use disposable glasses for beverages to avoid having to pack dirty glassware or risk spillage into your basket.
- Toss in a few plastic bags. You’ll wind up with a bit of waste after your picnic, and you don’t want to have to toss dirty stuff in your basket. Bring a couple of small plastic bags to wrap your dirty dishes in as well as a larger trash bag so you can stash your garbage until after the picnic.
- Stay cool with ice packs and bagged ice. Make sure you have a strategy for keeping cold foods chilled in transit. Insulated bags and ice packs can do an amazing job of keeping food and drinks cold.
- Don’t forget the grill tools and essentials. If you’re planning on cooking up burgers and hot dogs at the site of your picnic, don’t forget to pack grill tools and fuel. If your picnic locale doesn’t have grills up for grabs, consider having a portable charcoal grill for the occasion.
- Usebug spray and sunscreen. Picnics are meant to be chill and pleasant, but you should always remember that they are, ultimately, dinner with Mother Nature. Be sure to prepare for harsh sun and flying friends by packing sunscreen and bug spray.
Source: BAZA Production/Shutterstock.com
- Prepare Unfussy, Handheld Foods — Just because you’re going the picnic route doesn’t mean your only options for food are turkey sandwiches. There are so many great picnic recipes out there for you to try. Sandwiches, tacos and wraps are definitely a good choice since they’re handheld and self-contained but don’t be afraid to mix it up with things like gourmet chicken salad, brisket tacos, Ruebens or even lobster rolls. Make sure to avoid anything too saucy!
- Plan for Bugs — When you’re chowing down in the grass or on the sand, don’t be surprised if you’re solicited by pesky intruders of the insect and avian varieties. Hey, it’s part of dining in the great outdoors! The best thing you can do to combat unwelcome critters is to check if all of your food is properly sealed and covered when you’re not eating it. Invest in serving ware with built-in mesh bug nets and keep your food draped with kitchen towels or plastic wrap when not in use. Reminder: don’t forget to pack bug spray!
- Prepare for Wind and Rain — In an ideal world, we’d reserve our picnics for days with calm, mild weather. But with unexpected downpours and moody summer weather, seasoned picnickers know that avoiding weather snafus is not always possible. Bringing an umbrella and ponchos will keep you dry in case of rain. If it’s a windy day, pick a spot with rocks nearby that you can grab to secure your blanket.
- Scout Spots Beforehand — Besides access to blanket securing boulders, there are a few other things you’ll want to look for in an ideal picnic spot. You want to choose somewhere flat, dry and shady to avoid food spills or melting. Before laying down your blanket, be sure to feel the ground with your hand to know if it’s completely dry. If it rained recently, consider packing a towel or two to place under the blanket to absorb water.
Like any other meal, planning a pleasant picnic comes down to preparation. For the best possible picnicking experience, try to consider every facet beforehand, from the menu to the blanket to your picnic spot.