Summer might be almost over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep picnicking to your heat’s content. Whether you’re enjoying your feast by the beach or atop the summit of a mountain, make sure your picnic impresses. Due to all of the travel your basket endures before the picnic begins, there are many ways to accidentally damage the food you’re carrying. But there are a few ways to ensure your precious cargo makes it to it’s destination (and your mouth) safely.
1. Pack Smart
In general, stick to simple, durable ingredients and recipes. Avoid foods that should be eaten at specific temperatures, or are subject to melting or spoiling from the heat. When it comes to packing, opt for plastic containers rather than tin foil or plastic wrap so that your food is safely protected against the bumps of the road.
2. Hydrate In Style
Drinks are equally as important as the food. Water is a necessity for all picnics, whether it’s used to stay hydrated or used for a makeshift sink to wash your hands. Depending on the age of your company and yourself, pack some fun drinks to add a little delight to the meal. For those under 21, try Izze sparkling soda. If you’re over 21, bring some beer or wine. All of these drinks come in sealed bottles or cans, so they won’t spill en route.
3. Small Dish, Big Impact
For your appetizers or first course (because who said picnics had to be basic?), spreads and dips are great options. Hummus, yogurt dips, or baba ghanoush are all great options. Just make sure to also pack some sturdy crackers or chips.
4. Salads Are Your Friends
For the main course, pasta, bean, and grain salads will be your best bet. There’s endless options for recipes for these substantial salads, so you can tailor them depending on what cuisine you’re in the mood for (thai peanut noodle salad, or maybe a greek feta, tomato, and orzo salad?) and the dietary restrictions you’re working with.
These types of dishes are great when enjoyed at room temperature, so there’s no need to panic if all the ice in your bag melts, and they won’t get damaged along your adventure (ahem, soggy and squished PB&J).
5. Sandwich 101
Sandwiches can also work well for your picnic, if executed properly. A hearty bread is a must, like a baguette or ciabatta. It’s also important to put your sauces or spreads in the middle of all the sandwich fixings, so that the bread doesn’t become soggy. Prosciutto, brie, arugula, and whole grain mustard on a baguette is a personal favorite.
6. Don’t Ditch Dessert
There’s never a time to skip dessert, and picnics are no excuse. Bars such as brownies and blondies please most palettes, and are easy to pack due to their square shape and gooey consistency (no crumbled mess!). If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, try a fruit salad. Rather than opting for the go-to recipe, spice yours up with fruits you don’t normally use, or ad coconut flakes, mint, or a squeeze of lime.
7. It’s the Little Things
Remember to include utensils, napkins, cups, a bottle opener and a blanket in your bag. Depending on the intended atmosphere of your picnic, you can choose light plastic materials (if you’ll be carrying the bag a long distance) or heavier metal ones (for the more leisurely, upscale picnic in the park).
Picnics have the potential to be the perfect end to your summer, so don’t let the food spoil the mood. Or literally spoil.