I don’t know about you, but I hated speech class in college! You’re probably wondering, what does that have to do with how to pack a perfect picnic? Let me explain, it was freshman year of college and I had to take speech class. Now I will say I had THE most awesome speech teacher. But, I still HAD to give speeches. The one I remember was the “How To” speech. We had to teach our peers how to do something. What was I going to teach them? My friend said she was going to teach them how to run an event, there goes my topic. Now what? Somehow I came up with the idea of how to pack the perfect picnic, and it was the best speech I gave in class. It was spring semester and everyone was thrilled to be getting outside after our long winter, so it was a fitting topic.
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Pack Your Perfect Picnic
When my husband and I were registering for our wedding, I had to have a picnic basket. And, I can remember that was the first gift we opened at our shower. Thanks, Amy! But I was particular in choosing the basket. A picnic basket is fun, but it really isn’t practical for keeping food cold. I didn’t want to have to pack a basket, and a bag of entertainment AND a cooler. Therefore, I searched and I found a picnic basket with a built in cooler. It is awesome! The cooler is the base, then on the inside of the lid it straps in plates and cups. There is also enough room between the lid and the cooler section to hold my utensils.
I love this design because I can keep all of our serving ware on top and put all the food in the cooler area.
Here is a great option HappyPicnic Wicker Picnic Basket Set for 4 Persons
How to Pack Picnic Food Safely
It is important to keep your food cold while you travel and play before your meal is served. You can use ice packs to keep your food and drinks cold.
TIP Use Frozen Juice Boxes to Keep Food Cold
If you have kids this is perfect. You can freeze the juice boxes prior to packing the picnic and then the juice boxes will help to keep the other food cold. The juice boxes will melt by the time you serve the food. If the boxes are not completely melted by the time you serve, I doubt they will complain about having a fruity slushy!
You can also freeze water bottles and store them in your cooler too. Of course, you can still use ice packs too but the boxes and bottles give extra cooling and they don’t take up precious space. DO NOT freeze pop cans.
How to Pack up Picnic Food
If you are taking sandwiches, you can wrap these in aluminum foil. The foil helps to keep your food cold and it takes up much less space than a sandwich container.
When I’m going on a picnic, I tend to lean towards having plastic items. I wouldn’t want anything to fall and break while I am outside without good tools to help clean the mess. (Plastic is also lighter weight than glass, which is great when you have to carry your basket a distance) I prefer plastic containers that have locking lids. With locking lids, you don’t have to worry about the lids coming off if you have to put something into the cooler sideways.
Need some containers? Check these out Food Storage Containers with Lids
How to Plan a Perfect Picnic Menu
During the summer, there are some local venues that encourage concert goers to bring their own picnic and sit out to watch concerts. One very popular place has large name concerts and charges regular ticket prices. But, we are lucky to have a venue right down the street that puts on free concerts 4 times during the summer and so many people from the community come out to enjoy the music and enjoy their picnic with family and friends.
You see so many types of foods come into these venues. I have seen people bring in full pizzas, buckets of chicken, chinese takeout cartons and so many other items, Really it is up to you and your family and friends what you want to eat. Sometimes I even see people unfold 4 foot tables, put down a tablecloth and have a full on buffet for their party.
But, when packing a picnic and taking it with you on a walk or to a further destination, you want food that is easy to travel with and easy to eat. Keep your meals to small items. Finger foods and heavy snacks make a great picnic meal. Here are some examples of picnic foods that are delicious, yet easy to pack and eat.
I always think sandwiches first when I think picnics. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s sort of a staple for picnics in my family. But you don’t have to resort to PB&J sandwiches. (Though PB&J make a fabulous snack when we are out. It makes me feel like a kid again. How does such a simple sandwich make you feel so free and young?)
You can make all sorts of sandwiches to take with you. They are easy to put together and travel well. One of my favorite sandwiches is Rachael Ray’s Chicken Satay Salad Sammies. YUM!
Another option is to use a large hoagie roll and create different sandwiches all on one roll. Divide it into thirds and each section is a different sandwich. One area can be turkey, another roast beef and the third could be Italian meats and cheeses.
Sandwich possibilities are endless. Have fun designing your own gourmet sandwiches for your picnic feast.
These are simple snacks you can easily place into a container and serve up at a picnic. If you want, you can make several types and have a big selection for you and your guests.
Roll-ups differ, in my mind at least, from wrap sandwiches. Roll-ups are rolled tightly and do not have as much in them as a wrap sandwich. They are rolled tightly and held together with a spread. Then they can be sliced to easily serve as a snack or appetizer.
Examples of Roll-Ups:
- Mexican Tortilla Roll-Ups- tortillas with cream cheese, spices, salsa and cheddar cheese spread onto a tortilla and sliced.
- Ham & Pickle Roll-ups – dill pickle wrapped in cream cheese and ham. I know, sounds weird but they get devoured!
- Ham and Turkey Roll-Ups – Spread your mixture of cream cheese or a mustang add in lettuce and your deli meat and roll it up.
These are easy to make and pack and very easy to serve.
You could create an antipasto platter to go. In a container you could include meats and cheeses. Roll the meat around the cheese and it is easy to pick up and snack on at your picnic. You could also pack up olives, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. Add some grapes and bread and you are ready to dive into a great meal.
Crackers, cheese and sausages
Pick up a couple of your favorite cheeses and cut it into slices or small blocks. Add in some sausage and crackers and you have a filling snack.
Vegetables and dip
This makes an easy portable snack. It’s healthy and gives that fun crunch to your meal.
Fruit and yogurt dip
This is also a great picnic snack. You can easily make up a yummy dip and store it in a small container for serving.
I love these. You cut the watermelon into stick shapes leaving the rind on to use as a handle.
This salad is great for a picnic. You can slice the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese at home, add in the basil, oil and vinegar mix it up, cover it and take it with you. By the time you sit down to eat it will be well marinated.
Check out this great picnic pasta salad. It is light and refreshing yet filling salad because of the pasta. You need to make it the previous day too which is helpful because it gives it plenty of time to cool before you pack it up.
How To Pack Picnic Beverages
I just had a flashback to our picnics when I was a kid and we had a big thermos of sweet iced tea. I can still remember the exact thermos we would bring with us. And how I loved the sweet tea. My grandma made THE best sweet tea and she taught my mom how to make it too. We haven’t had that in years.
So I degrees, anyhow back to drinks for your picnic. Bring your favorite flavored waters, iced teas, juice boxes, or other non alcoholic beverage. Not all parks allow alcoholic beverages so to be safe just pack non alcoholic drinks.
If you plan to bring a bottle of something make sure you have a bottle opener with you. Nothing like getting ready to pour someone a glass and you can’t get the top off!
Pack Perfect Picnic Essentials
- Blanket or table cloth – I love the blankets that zip together and go from a large blanket to a small square with a handle!
- Wet wipes – you know there will be sticky fingers so be prepared.
- Garbage bag for all your trash. Sometimes it is hard to find a picnic spot with a trash can. You want to easily be able to clean up your mess and leave after you’re finished.
Pack Picnic Entertainment
Bring along some fun travel games to play while you are at the park
- Yahtzee, dice, tablets and pencils
- Deck of cards
- Soccer ball
- Baseball and baseball gloves to play catch
A picnic is a casual and fun event. But you do need to be well prepared since you will be away from your home. Decide what to pack for your picnic a couple days in advance. Plan your menu early so you have time to shop, prepare and pack your food in smaller containers. Try to keep your menu simple with finger foods that are best eaten cold or do not require refrigeration. Use plastic so that you don’t have to worry about anything breaking in the park. Pack some fun games and toys to keep your group entertained. Follow these easy steps and you will pack the perfect picnic.
This is a great time to get unplugged with your family and enjoy food, fun and nature together.