With school officially out and summer almost here, what better time than now to take your kids on a picnic! Now that I’ve become a mom, I’m a HUGE fan of picnics because they’re 1) a cheap form of entertainment, 2) a fun activity to do with friends, 3) something that can be done spur of the moment and doesn’t require reservations, tickets, or, a whole lot of planning! If you’re thinking about doing some picnicking with your family this summer, here are my tried and true tips for picnic success:
Leave the Basket at Home, Pack a Cooler Instead – While a picnic basket is the traditional picnic fare carry-all, a much better (and, more practical!) option is to just pack a cooler! We’re all well aware of how absolutely crazy Atlanta traffic can be, so, why chance spoiling your food because of an accident or long delays due to road construction? Pack all of your perishables in a cooler and you won’t have to worry!
Safety First – Okay, yes, we’ve all had that friend/cousin/neighbor, etc. who’s eaten potato salad at a picnic where it sat outside in the hot sun for hours and they lived to tell about it, but, is it really worth the risk? Absolutely not! You know the rule, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Be sure to pack your cooler with plenty of ice packs and only allow your food to sit out for two hours max once you get to your picnic site.
Keep It Simple – Just because a dish is on Bon Appétit magazine’s “Top 10 Picnic Dishes to Make This Summer” list, that doesn’t mean that you should surprise your kids and husband with it on a family picnic (trust me on this, I’ve learned from experience). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with packing familiar family favorites like ham or turkey sandwiches, PB&J’s, or, a pesto pasta salad. Picnics are for family fun and exploring new scenery, not for springing new dishes on your family that you’re not even sure they’ll eat (save that for fancy dinner parties later)! The best picnic foods are those that you can eat with your hands, aren’t super messy, and, don’t require a lot of prep work once you get to the picnic site!
Picnic Blankets are Totally Overrated – Especially if you’re over a certain age! While they always look great in the movies, picnic blankets can get pretty uncomfortable after you’ve been sitting on the hard ground for a few hours. I always like to pack a few extra camping chairs that are comfortable, have built in drink holders, and, that I can easily fold up and throw in the car when it’s time to go home. You’ll thank yourself later for putting these in the car!
It’s The Little Things (That Can Sometimes Make or Break a Picnic) – So, don’t forget those “easy to overlook” items like: sunscreen, bug spray, cutting boards, a corkscrew, trash bags, games for the kids, cutlery, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, etc. While picnics are most fun when they’re spontaneous and spur of the moment, keeping a mental or written checklist of important items to bring is always a good idea!
Let me know, what are your top tips for picnic success?
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Noble: Flickr