Family dinner hour a la fresca ideas:
- Establish a specific spot for your picnic container and keep it there (pantry, car trunk, garage shelf, etc.); you don't want to waste any time hunting for it. I make a special spot for ours in my pantry during the spring and summer, then tuck it into a large plastic bag and stash it in storage during the cold months.
- Keep it loaded with everything but food--paper plates and bowls, cups, napkins, plastic ware, salt and pepper, tablecloth, trash bag, serving utensils, netted dish covers (to keep the bugs away), matches, a sharp knife or two, and a smallish cutting board (for the watermelon).
- Keep a list (taped to the inside lid of your container), of your favorite parks' addresses, phone numbers (good to have if you want to reserve a pavilion or other specific spot), and other pertinent information to know. For instance, a park we love, Liberty Park, has a massive pond complete with ducks to feed and peddle boats to rent. So this information, along with boat rental costs is on my list. Then, when I invite folks to my picnic, I can apprise them of this park's offerings and they can come prepared to enjoy them.
- Have a few picnic menus handy so when everyone decides in the morning to go on a picnic in the afternoon, you can quickly put the meal together. And remember, there's more to a picnic than hot dogs and hamburgers. I like to have hard-boiled eggs and baked potatoes in my fridge at all times because then I can put a potato salad or egg salad together chop-chop. It's also nice to have a few goodies in the freezer for dessert: cookies or a sheet cake, for instance.
- You can also go without the plastic- or flat-ware if you want. Here are great picnic edibles we can eat with our fingers, that accommodate a grab-and-go meal:
Corn on the cob
Watermelon, strawberries and cherries
Hot dogs & hamburgers
Any sandwich (bread, pita, wraps)
S’mores, cupcakes, cookies
Cheese, crackers and grapes
Hummus and crudite
Pizza or calzones
Let's take advantage of this warm weather and do a lot of picnicking with our friends and family. Let's share recipes and ideas for making this easy. And until next time, here's to making family dinner hour possible--especially a la fresca!