Can you remember how many times you packed lunch, only to end up with soggy and miserable looking sandwiches? Well, if it’s an office or school lunch you can easily rely on a granola bar for a quick meal and avoid the funny tasting pasta salad. But what happens when you are at a picnic and your snacks are ruined because you haven’t packed them well enough. You have to admit, it is fairly disappointing to starve after a day of fun and adventure on the beach.
There are three things you need for a perfect picnic- good weather, proper ambiance, and divine tasting foods. Missing out on satisfying food just might suck all the fun out of your picnic. If you don’t want that to happen, make sure you keep these points in mind for packing food for a picnic.
Remember Food Safety
One of the major downsides of a warm-weather picnic is that the foods can get easily spoiled if you leave them warm. Even if your foods look good on the outside despite keeping them under the direct sun for more than two hours, bacteria might develop. Ending up with food poisoning after attending a picnic is not something you want, you should keep food safety in mind.
Depending on your picnic destination, you might have to keep the food inside the picnic hamper for several hours; leaving no option other than to keep it cold. Besides, packing cooked food while they are still warm and steaming is another reason for food getting spoiled. So, invest in a cooler or keep a frozen water bottle beside your food boxes. And while packing cooked food, make sure you refrigerate it for some time so they get a chance to cool down.
Pick Finger Foods
If you are still debating about spring roll vs egg roll or whether to include scotch eggs or sausage rolls in your picnic menu, you might consider some fun and easy finger foods. Finger foods are the best for a picnic, they don’t require any silverware, and any portioning and they don’t make a mess as they are mostly dry. The only thing you have to keep in mind is to wash your hands before eating. Unless you plan on a several course brunch for your picnic, foods like fruits and dips, cut veggies and hummus, crackers and cheese or snack bar can keep you more than full.
Ensure Proper Storage
Salads and sandwiches might be the staple for your picnic; but how to pack them without being soggy and wilted? The trick is to pack all the components separately in different containers- dressings, toppings, fillings, and cheese. A vinegar-based dressing can last longer than a mayo-based dressing in an outdoor environment.
Make sure you keep your food items in your kitchen refrigerator for several hours before packing so they can stay chilled even right before the meal. Store them in a sealed container so you don’t have to find your slices of bread soggy from the leaky container of dressing for coleslaw.
Don’t Pack Messy Foods
If you don’t want a huge cleanup after the picnic, make sure you avoid recipes that involve clean up. For the entre, a chicken or sausage pie will be a better option than fried chicken as you don’t have to deal with the leftover bones and greasy fingers. If you are making a pie, don’t forget to portion it before you pack if you don’t want to spill the fillings on your picnic blanket. For dessert instead of a cake with frosting, pack some cookies.
Pack the Necessary Utensils
Pack all the necessary utensils while packing foods. Depending on your menu you might need forks, a serving tray, disposable plates and glasses, knives, and a water bottle or flask. If you are worried about the Styrofoam cups and leaning on a sustainable lifestyle, you can forgo the utensils and use your fingers. Make sure your menu allows a non-utensil meal. Also, bring paper towels and a blanket.
Pack Your Drinks
Drinks might seem the easiest item to pack for a picnic but keeping them cool does require some effort. Freeze them overnight and pack them with enough ice to keep them cold throughout the day. Don’t forget the bottle opener, if you want to crack a bottle of wine.
If you are thinking about what to bring as a family-friendly drink for a picnic, mint iced tea, strawberry pineapple lemonade can be some good options. Depending on whether you can keep them cool, you can also bring some fruit sherbet which can also double as a dessert. If you have kids with you make sure you bring little plastic cups for them to have some drinks.
Bring Enough Cleaning Supplies
Food does involve some kind of a mess, even if the food is simple and you are a non-messy eater. There is no harm in packing napkins and wipes more than you need. You never know when the water bottle will get knocked over or when your kids need an emergency scrub down from a BBQ sauce incident or a spilled drink.
Take Care of Your Trash
The only caveat of a fun outdoor picnic or camping is that don’t forget to take care of your trash. If you don’t want to haul a large trash bag around the picnic spot, make sure you don’t bring foods that produce a lot of trash. For instance, plastic wrappers, packages, bottles, and cans are a big no. Bring homemade food that you can store in a reusable container or a homemade wrapper and wash it later.
No matter how tired you are at the end of the day, make sure you dispose of your trash at a trash can or a recycle bin. If you don’t find one at your picnic spot, you can bring them back home for safe disposal.
On a final note, sauntering in the park with your picnic basket at hand might seem idyllic, but it is not practical at all. Always bring a cooler or an icebox to your picnic instead of a picnic basket. Whether you are planning a gourmet lunch or a fun simple menu for your picnic, you need to plan how to pack them. Plan your menu wisely so you have maximum fulfillment but minimum waste. To enjoy a hearty meal and a fun-filled day, make sure you keep these things in mind. Happy outing!