Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tips for Successful Picnics


We mentioned PICNICS yesterday. We love them—they’re a great way to enjoy an afternoon without spending a ton of money. It’s much cheaper than taking the family out to a restaurant, and if you do it right, the food is just as good. It just takes planning for all contingencies so your picnic can be a big success.

First: Consider seating. For a small group, a blanket can work. A good choice has one cloth side and one water-resistant plastic side. Amazon.com sells the TUFFO Water Resistant Outdoor Blanket for $39.95 (with carrying case). Larger groups might need picnic tables. In that case, remember tablecloths (ones that wipe clean are best). And to keep older friends or family comfortable, remember the folding chairs. 
 
Second: Packing the goodies. This is a big key to picnic success. You use plastic bags for things that can easily leak, such as meats, fruits and vegetables, but have you thought about wrapping sandwiches in parchment paper (they stay fresh and it looks classy). Sandwiches made with baguettes or wraps won’t get soggy. And bring Wet Ones, or a moist dish towel tucked into a plastic zippered bag (for sanitation and cleaning spills).

Third: Transporting the goodies. Consider how long cold stuff will have to keep cold, and how to keep warm stuff warm. To prevent things from sliding around in the car, use a big cardboard box, or large plastic tub (Rubbermaid, for instance) to keep everything together. Don't you love those coolers on wheels? We've even packed the non-food stuff in wheeled luggage. It's so much easier to pull something than it is to heft it.

Finally: Dealing with locale. If your destination is buggy, bring citronella candles and mesh tents to place over the food (back to Amazon.com for these--a food umbrella sells for $6.61). For night picnics, bring a portable gas heater and some lamps. And be sure your car is prepared for any contingency that could ruin the trip--jumper cables, a usable spare tire, and the number for a towing company (ask us why we suggest this…).

Picnicking is a great way to keep the family eating together through the summer, and good preparation makes it successful. So here’s to family dinner made easy, a la fresh air!

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