Packing Perfection: 6 Essential Pieces for Foolproof Picnics

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The long-awaited season of alfresco dining has finally returned, and the last thing we want to see when we open our picnic baskets is a cracked pie or a leaky bowl of coleslaw. A sturdy carrier is our greatest ally when preparing for an outdoor feast, and luckily, there are plenty of dependable totes, bowls and baskets designed to get your precious cargo to the park in one piece. Here are a few trusted picnicking sidekicks that are worth investing in this summer.

Crate and Barrel: Chill Blue Bowl with Servers, $15

Feasting on creamy, mayo-based salads is a time-honored picnic tradition, but things can get a little messy if your method of transport involves stretching a thin piece of plastic wrap over a flimsy bowl. You can trust your side salads in Crate and Barrel’s sturdy serving bowl fitted with a snap-on lid. Better yet, a built-in freezer disc will keep your food cold for hours.

Crate and Barrel: Red Picnic Cooler, $70

Don’t underestimate it based on size alone: This retro steel cooler in cherry red is essentially a small, compact refrigerator that you can take with you to the park. The built-in bottle opener is truly indispensable for those of us who tend to forget ours at home.

Food Network Store: Lasagna Lugger, $27

It’s called the Lasagna Lugger, but this picnic workhorse can accommodate any meal, hot or cold, that’s prepared in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Slide your cutlery and napkins into the zippered outer pocket, then grab it by the two snap-together handles for easy transport.

Sur La Table: Collapsible Cupcake & Cake Carrier, $30

This sturdy carrier doubles as a pretty tiered display tower for round or square layered cakes and cupcakes. When not in use, the carrier collapses to half of its original size for convenient storage.

Williams-Sonoma: Pie Basket, $70

There’s no need to choose between peach and strawberry-rhubarb with Williams-Sonoma’s iconic wooden picnic basket that’s roomy enough to accommodate two 10-inch pies or tarts.

Le Creuset: Wine Cooler Carry Bag, $27

Nothing spoils a romantic picnic for two like hot Pinot Grigio. This innovative wine carrier doesn’t just insulate, but actually cools wine to the ideal serving temperature within 30 minutes.