The weather is gorgeous, kids are out of school, and you’re looking for a way to carpe diem (you know, seize the day). What better way to do that than to have a picnic? This post will help you plan the menu, whether you’re having a romantic picnic for two, a family affair, or a neighborhood bash.
Choosing Your Picnic Location
Whether you’re in the country, on the beach, or in a big city , you can have a great picnic. If it’s raining (or if it’s too hot outside) try a simple spread on the living room floor. The backyard is a perfect place for a close-to-home packed lunch, or try a park, the local playground, a drive-in movie, a pier, or even the rooftop of a tall building. Kathy’s idea of the perfect picnic (pictured below) actually involves no cooking!
What to pack?
For some folks, picnics are elaborate schemes that involve transporting raw meat, a bag of charcoal, condiments, folding tables and chairs, and more to their destination. For others, picnics are simple meals, involving finger foods made from fresh summer produce, a blanket to sit on, and as few plates and utensils as possible. Here are some basic essentials for any style of picnic:
- Good company, whether it’s a romantic picnic for two, a family picnic, or a neighborhood event
- Good food and drinks
- Blanket, tablecloth, or folding chairs, depending on your picnic location
- A cooler for your food. Hot foods and cold foods should not be kept in the same cooler, and raw meat should be in a small separate cooler. Read more about picnic food safety at North Carolina State University website
- Serving utensils, eating utensils, dishes, glasses. Some picnic baskets come equipped with all of these things in a ready-to-go package!
- Napkins, baby wipes and hand sanitizer
- A bag for trash, if you’re using disposable napkins or paper plates
- A small “just-in-case” kit – bug spray, band-aids, sunscreen, and tissues
Here are three menu ideas, depending on the kind of outing you want to have.
Romantic Picnic for Two
- Location: A waterfront park, boat, or shady, secluded spot
- Company: Just the two of you
- Entrée: A Thermos of creamy soup, either hot or cold
- Side: Cheese, jam and a baguette
- Dessert: Fruit with chocolate or fruit dip (pictured above) for drizzling or dunking
- Drink: Wine, champagne or sangria
Family Fun Picnic
- Location: Your family’s favorite playground or park, a family-friendly drive-in movie, or a free open-air concert
- Company: The whole gang
- Entrée: Sandwiches. For something a little different, try a tomato basil sandwich; for something a little British, try a proper cucumber sandwich, or for something a little New Orleans, try a muffuletta, which is a sandwich on foccaccia-like bread, with sliced meats, cheese, and olive salad (the defining ingredient). The kids will appreciate good old tuna sandwiches.
- Side: Vegetables with dip, or a marinated vegetable salad
- Dessert: Chocolate fudge brownie cupcakes
Neighborhood Grill Picnic
- Location: Your neighborhood’s clubhouse, a park, or a popular backyard hangout pictured above
- Company: Friends, family, the works
- Entrée: You can make hamburger patties following Kathy’s instructions, and then grill them on-site, or make chicken kabobs
- Side: Try a perfect picnic pasta salad or Ramen Noodle Crunchy Coleslaw (pictured above)
- Dessert: Tropical Fruit Salad
If you are new to startcooking, or are a regular visitor here, please consider subscribing for free.