For most people, the idea of a picnic sounds absolutely perfect: relaxing outside on a comfortable blanket with a huge basket of fresh snacks and a mouth-watering meal. However, without much preparation, picnics can just end up being soggy sandwiches, canned corn, and a squashed roll of paper towels. But don’t worry! The perfect picnic can be accomplished through four simple categories: Food, Drinks, Packing, and Location. Here’s a list of tips and tricks to have an easy and enjoyable picnic this summer!
Let’s be honest– the real difference between a great picnic and a good picnic is what’s in the basket. Since Texas is famous for its hot summers, the food brought to a picnic should be able to withstand the heat.
1. For hot days or long travels, whip up a green, vegetable-based salad for guaranteed freshness. Tender, lettuce-based salads tend to fade in the heat, but salads built on sturdy sliced vegetables or grains (such as quinoa) will easily survive in the hot weather.
2. Sandwiches, wraps, and finger foods are your friends. A grilled sandwich with fresh mozzarella, pesto, spinach, and sun dried tomato spread will have no chance of falling apart during transportation. Alternatively, wraps are a picnic-perfect meal that won’t become soggy after a long, hot day of traveling. Wraps are easy to make and usually require few ingredients. Roll a combination of turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, hummus, chicken, vegetable cream cheese, or cucumbers into a large tortilla. Cut the wraps in half or into rolls and cover with a plastic wrap. For a dozen more ideas for picnic recipes, check out My Best Picnic Recipes.
3. Portable servings of bite-size snacks, such as small bags of pistachios, crackers, containers of fruits, and vegetables are always loved and appreciated. Nuts are a healthy alternative to potato chips and are less likely to be crushed by the time they are eaten.
5. Homemade flavored water can be especially lovely during picnics, and won’t add much sugar to the meal. The fun part is experimenting with the various types of combinations that suit your family or friends tastes. Opt for a subtle flavor, like raspberry and mint, or go bold with orange-kiwi infused water. Additionally, add fruit to your ice to add flavor and keep your drink cool and refreshing.
Your basic picnic packing list includes napkins, utensils, plates and bowls, Tupperware, cups, ice pack or cooler, lawn blanket and/or pillows, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Use some of these packing tips to help maximize the space in your picnic basket.
6. In the Texas heat, one sure way to keep your food cool is with an insulated container or cooler. Use two big canvas bags/baskets, one for room-temperature food and an insulated one for anything that needs to stay chilled. You can also put small water bottles into the freezer for a few hours before your picnic which can double-up as chiller-blocks during transportation and cold drinks when you reach your picnic stop.
7. After you pack a layer of food in the bottom of a bag, place a small cutting board over it. Then add another layer of food. The board will act as a shelf and prevent the food from toppling over. When you get to the picnic area, place the cutting board in the middle of the serving area and use it as a makeshift table for drinks. Tea towels can also be used as an added layer around packed foods or to lay down as place mats.
8. Bring wet wipes and trash bags. You never think you’ll need them, but you always do – picnics are messy!
9. Summer is a great time for picnics, but make sure you find a spot with some shade so others can rest. Your local watering hole, a park with hiking trails, and a picnic area with a playground are perfect locations because they give you a variety of activity options without bringing extra supplies. Special occasions, such as a concert on the grass, a play in the park, and a fireworks show may be the perfect times to enjoy a picnic.
10. If you have a large group of people in the park, play a fun game of soccer or kickball in the grass. A water balloon fight is probably the most exciting way to cool down with friends on a hot summer day. If you are bringing kids, be sure to pack bubbles, balls and frisbees, kites, and other activities they can do outdoors. For a more relaxed occasion, bring a book or magazine to read while enjoying the food you prepared.
At the end of the day, the goal of a picnic is to have fun and relax!