How to Plan A Picnic

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These are simple strategies how toHere are some tips to help you plan your picnic.

Nova Scotia summers are a continuous invitation to bring dinner outdoors and I’m happy to accept. The beach beckons to us on sunny days and I’ve always got a basket at the ready.

It occurs to me that with all my writings on dining al fresco, I’ve never specifically divulged on how toPlan a picnic. Today’s post summarizes the best of my knowledge with practical tips on what to bring and why it matters.

Get ready for a memorable outing – here’s how toPlan a picnic

Begin with a Food Plan

Like your weekday meals, the art of the picnic starts with a menu plan and a bit of meal prep. Even though it might be just a post-it note on your fridge and some quick washing of vegetables, planning will help you to get there faster.

Ranch salad dressing, hard boiled eggs, Two-Bite Brownies, sliced melon, grilled vegetables, washed greens, iced tea, potato salad, cooked pasta, peach slab pie…all are stellar examples of picnic preparations.

Simple things are the best!

Picnic food doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It could really be one perfectly fabulous dish – like my make-ahead Antipasto Pasta Salad – and a bottle of bubbly or sparkling water. That’s it.

You can only take on what is manageable in the current stage of your life. My kids are my helpers. They fill water bottles, make sandwiches and gather snacks. Since they were small, almost all of their tasks was planned ahead. It’s enough work just getting kiddos out the door with sunscreen!

Of course you may enjoy complicated! You might enjoy making your picnic guests happy with delicious gastronomical treats such as Herb Butter with Edible Flowers and the cute Do-Ahead Sour Cream Panna Cotta With Strawberry Compote. They will travel very well provided they have a lid.

It’s important to keep it plenty

There’s something about eating in nature that stimulates the appetite. It’s important that the contents of the picnic basket be substantial, nourishing and most of all, plentiful.

Perhaps this comes to mind because I am always packing for teenagers, but nevertheless, it’s better to have leftovers than run out of food.

The Best Picnic Foods – and my BBQ Chicken recipe – is a good place to start for recipes. You’ll find everything from main dishes and salads, to snacks and desserts.

It’s important to keep it current

The biggest problem with picnic food has been too many breads. A menu with bright colours, some protein and lots of fresh veggies should be planned. Since picnic season coincides with peak summer produce, there’s no excuse not to eat the rainbow.

The perfect springtime picnic is one that includes 5 ready-to-use recipes. The farmers market bounty is celebrated in this summer romantic sunset picnic for two.

Practical Picnic Equipment

Combining a bag with a soft handle and a basket is a great way to bring along picnic items. My baskets were all thrifted. Keep an eye out for vintage shops and garage sales.

A picnic basket can hold non-food items, such as the ones listed below. It may also contain a baguette and bag of chips. It’s always handy to have one on hand for summer.

Soft cooler bags are great for food storage and even ice pack transport. After a decade of picnics, I’m due for an upgrade and have my eye on this cooler bag with a special compartment for wine.

If you don’t want to invest in a cooler bag, just use a few of your largest insulated lunchboxes with ice packs! Fill them up, toss them in a backpack or canvas bag and you’re good to go.

Learn how to pack a cooler

To have a successful beach outing for a large group, one needs a well-stocked camper-style cooler – ideally with wheels. I’ve done the research and given you the cooler hacks to ensure that all goes to plan (and nothing goes to rot).

See the full post: How to Make a Picnic on the Beach Cooler

When we’re oceanside, it’s a full day affair, and we’re always with friends. Two meals per person, plus snack for eight people are my goal. I then upgrade my soft-insulated bag to a camp-style cooler.

Basic Picnic set for 2

Here’s what goes in my mini picnic basket. It should be eco-friendly, with as little bamboo, wood and melamine in it as possible. This is a part of my Community Zero Waste Picnic Bags.

  • 2 plates
  • 2 utensil sets
  • 2 cloth napkins
  • 2 cups or mugs
  • Wooden mini cutting board / platter
  • Thermos for small spaces
  • Berry baskets
  • small jam jars
  • pocketknife
  • Deluxe Picnic Set for Groups

  • 8 plates
  • 4 Bowls
  • 6-8 cups/mugs
  • 6 cloth napkins
  • Optional: 1 Tablecloth
  • Utensils
  • Berry baskets
  • Serve pie/cake
  • Serving spoon
  • Corkscrew
  • Bag for compost
  • silicone cutting board
  • Thermos large, hot and cold
  • few small jam jars
  • 1 glass pop-top bottle
  • Salt and pepper shaker
  • pocketknife
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    Do you fly or fight in the wet weather?

    Don’t fight the elements. You’ll never win against the wind, rain or rising tide (especially not the tide!). I’ll be the first to admit I’ve eaten my sandwich in the car, with the windshield wipers frantically waving.

    First, you need to be able to identify and comprehend your locality before making an informed decision. In the Maritimes, the weather changes every five minutes and we’ve learned to wait out the storm. Clear skies and less wind are nearly always our reward.

    Do Critters Fight Or Fly?

    These bugs can be defeated! You can use a small Thermacell to fight black flies and mosquitos. All sweets should be kept out of the reach of wasps until last minute. Don’t leave any food sitting out.

    Try to be at peace with the natural world as much as possible. Remember, you’re going out into their space!

    Make it Clean

    Here’s method for quick and smart clean up. My small compost bag is handy, as well as a bag for kitchen waste. As plates and other garbage are collected, we do a quick check at the spot. Wrapping used utensils with cloth napkins is what I do, and then stacking the plates. All of it goes into the cooler, not the basket! they can be cleaned at home.

    Take a break

    You can benefit even from planning a picnic. Each picnic you plan gets easier than the last and with time, you’ll be dashing out the door at the drop of a hat.

    Remember to be relaxed! Let your feet touch the sand or grass by taking off your shoes. It’s your summer; enjoy it to the maximum.

    Please share your knowledge about picnics in the comments

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