When venturing out into the world of picnicking there are a variety of routes you can take. You could always pack a couple of PB&J sandwiches and some juice boxes into a backpack and hit up a local park, but why not get a little more creative than that?
You want to make sure you bring a blanket of some sort. Bugs are inevitable, but they don't need to be crawling all up on your sandwiches when you could make it at least a little bit more difficult for them with the addition of a blanket. At the same time, make sure you don't bring your favourite blanket as spills will happen and you don't want to be heartbroken when grape jam gets mysteriously rubbed into your thousand thread count Egyptian cotton throw. My favourite blanket to bring picnicking is an old quilt with a lot of prints.
As for the carrier, it's really your call if you'd like to make the investment in a top quality picnic basket, but remember a little investment goes a long way. I got my picnic basket at Value Village five or six years ago for $4.99 and it came equipped with reusable plastic plates, utensils and glasses. I'd really recommend a picnic basket if you want to make picnicking a regular thing in your life. It just adds that necessary touch to every picnic.
As for the food, there are four main components to each picnic: sandwiches, veggies, drinks and dessert.
I know everyone has the ability to make a sandwich, but it took me a fair amount of time to perfect my method, so I may as well share it with you. First of all, you need multiple components to make your sandwich as delicious as possible (e.g. peanut butter and jelly or egg salad with lettuce or meat and cheese and spinach). You always want the wet components to go directly onto the bread; mayo first, then any desired sauces. Make sure you put meat and cheeses on the layers closest to the bread and any lettuce in the middle; this will always make for the most delicious sandwich.
For the veggies, slice up peppers and cucumbers and rinse off some baby carrots and bring some guacamole or hummus for dipping and you're golden.
The key word for every single one of my picnics is: Tupperware. Moving your food from location to location is a vital part of the picnicking process and you want to make sure your food stays in tact so it looks just as presentable when you're picnicking as when you first made it at home.
The beverage can be the easiest part, but it can be really impressive with one additional ingredient – ginger ale. My go-to is buying a can of juice concentrate (grape or orange are my favourites) and a can of lemonade. Grab a mason jar for each person and put 2 to 3 tablespoons of each concentrate directly into the Mason jar. If the picnic isn't far away, you can throw your desired amount of ice cubes into each Mason jar at home, and put the lid on and keep them refrigerated until just before you leave. When you're at your picnic destination, shake the Mason jar and then add your ginger ale and you have a delicious, summery punch, perfect for a warm day outside.
Cookies are the ideal dessert for any picnic. They can be premade, are easy to store and if they get warm under the hot sun it only warms them up and makes them gooey and delicious. I've gone as far as to make carrot cake with cream cheese icing for a picnic, but the sun just melted the icing and make the cake look fairly questionable, and I assume the same would happen with cupcakes. Depending on your desire for sugar consumption, you can also opt for candy as a dessert option, which is an easy alternative and really fun as you can nibble on dessert while you're still eating the rest of your picnic foods.
Last minute words of wisdom: Always check the weather before you go on your picnic – partially cloudy days are always my favourite. And find a spot that works for you. Next to a river, under some trees or in a public garden are always good choices.
If you're picnicking with kids, bring an activity for them to do after/during eating; a Frisbee can go a long way.
Just remember, the most important part of the picnic is the company.
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