It’s summertime, and that means it’s picnic time. Take the family out into the sunshine and nature and pack a yummy, healthy, on-the-go meal! There’s a lot of information out there on what makes the perfect picnic, like safety tips on eating food before bacteria can grow, whether it’s pre-cooked or packed in the cooler to stay fresh. Then there’s the checklist of what essential items you need to bring, and recipes upon recipes of what food you can prepare and bring.
We’ve done you the favor or sifting and sorting through all the information so you can have the perfect picnic!
First, you need to decide what kind of picnic you’re having. Is it on-the-go, where you’ll skip the cooler and the hot foods, or is it part of a larger outdoor potluck or day out?
Whatever it is, you’ll need some essentials:
- Plates, eating and serving utensils, and cups for eating and drinking
- Cutting board, cutting knife, corkscrew for on-site prep
- Napkins for hands, moist toilettes for sticky fingers and faces, napkins for cleaning out dishes before re-packing
- Large and light blanket for easy travelling and to comfortably hold all picnickers and food
- Backpack for stowing all food for easier traveling (it’s easier to carry than a basket)
Next you’ll need to keep in mind how to keep your food safe.
Health and Safety Tips
- Take what you think you will eat to avoid waste
- 2 hour rule: don’t leave perishable foods out longer than 2 hours
- Keep food covered to keep away from bugs carrying germs
- Keep warm/hot foods out of the cooler
- Warm/hot foods should stay at 140 degrees or warmer to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Only prepare these foods if you plan on eating them as soon as you get to your location (within 1 hour), or if you plan to keep them warm on a grill
- Cold food should stay at 40 degrees or cooler–make sure you put cold foods in cold. For instance, don’t buy a brand new jar of mayonnaise and expect it to cool down to the proper temperature in the cooler. Tip: Pre-frozen items will help keep other items cooler
- Fill cooler with ice packs, ice, frozen water bottles just before you leave the house and no sooner
- Transport the cooler in the back seat rather than the trunk, which is the hottest part of the car
- Keep raw and cooked food separate, both in containers in the cooler and on prep plates
- Once you’ve eaten, put the food away as soon as possible instead of leaving it out while you go swimming or do another outdoor activity to ensure everything stays fresh
- Hummus Pesto Dip – This traditional Middle Eastern dip is combined with the fresh taste of pesto for a combination that is sure to please
- Blue Ribbon Potato Salad – Yes, blue cheese in potato salad, and it is fantastic!
- Light Yogurt-Poppy Slaw – Low fat yogurt replaces the mayo for the perfect healthy side dish
- Want more? 101 inspired picnic dishes that take 20 minutes or less