Outdoor dining should be a relaxing event; a time to enjoy the scenery while savoring seasonal flavors with loved ones. Yet, picnics seem to get a bad rap—ants, spoiled food, misplaced utensils, sand in your sandwich—all ruin the experience and detract from the joy of food and friends. These ten tips will make your next picnic as easy as pie.
Perhaps this goes without saying, nut the first step to picnic perfection is finding a location. In addition to classic picnic locations, such as the beach, visit pocket parks or scenic hiking trails. Be sure that the location you choose allows picnics—some parks restrict food to certain areas–others accommodate visitors with tables and grills.
2. Plan ahead
After deciding where to host your picnic, make sure you have everything you need for success. Stock your picnic basket with easy-to-clean utensils, sturdy plates, cups, and plenty of napkins. If you plan to grill or assemble your meal at there, make sure you have everything you need. It never hurts to include hand wipes and hand sanitizing gel!
3. Anticipate ants
When it comes to outdoor dining, it never hurts to be prepared. Aside from investing in a quality picnic blanket or waterproof mat, bring sunscreen, citronella candles, and insect repellent. Check the weather forecast a few days before your picnic date to ensure the day will be a lovely as you planned, it is better to reschedule than try to cope with rain or excessive heat
4. Get the goods
As with any party, making food ahead of time is an excellent idea. Picnics present a special consideration though—sandwiches get soggy, salad dressings separate, and ice packs melt. If possible, pack your ingredients in separate containers and assemble your meal after arriving.
5. Keep it simple
Picnic fare should be simple—think finger foods, sandwiches, fresh produce, and bite-sized desserts. Leave the layer cake at home and opt for small bites that travel well. Bonus points if your picnic menu does not require utensils. Cut vegetables and berries make excellent picnic snacks.
6. Chill out
While the iconic wicker picnic basket evokes a sweet sense of nostalgia, it may not be the best choice. Invest in a cooler and icepacks to keep picnic fare chilled and fresh. The FDA advises picnic-packers to keep food in the shade and discard food that has been let out for over two hours.
7.Make it social
Picnics are a celebration of nature, food, and loved ones. Make it a potluck picnic—ask each guest to bring a favorite dish or beverage. Not only does this ensure that everyone will have something to eat it also sparks conversation
8. Bring extras
It never hurts to have extra drinks, snacks, or other non-perishable items. Sharing is half the fun of picnicking, be prepared to share with your own picnic party and others nearby. No one ever complained about leaving with leftovers!
9. Eat local
Take this as an opportunity to savor seasonal produce. Visit a farmers’ market or food co-op and discover the season’s bounty. Fresh, seasonal produce gives your picnic an instant theme and tends to cost less than imported foods
10. Make it a tradition
Whether it’s a romantic getaway for two or a large afternoon event, make a special. Include your favorite foods, pick a scenic location, choose a theme, or play music. Who knows, you may start an annual tradition.