How to Plan the Perfect Picnic
Prepare for the ultimate outdoor feast with these easy packing tips and recipe ideas.
Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.
Photo By: Picasa ©Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
Photo By: The Washington Post ©2015 The Washington Post
Photo By: Picasa
Photo By: Picasa
Photo By: Tara Donne
©Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
Relax, It's Just a Picnic
Perhaps you have a wonderful old-fashioned picnic basket — or perhaps you'll just go for some sturdy, flat-bottomed canvas bags and a cooler. It's a good idea to have one container (or more if needed) that will keep things consistently chilled, preferably insulated, with the addition of some frozen ice packs. Plastic bins and boxes are also possible alternatives to sturdy bags.
Get the Recipe: Warm Picnic Burritos ("Burritos De Machaca")
Most picnics don't necessarily have the appetizer-salad-main course-dessert flow of a regular indoor meal. It's quite acceptable and lovely that someone might be munching on a cold chicken leg while others are eating brownies. But if you plan on a more leisurely afternoon in the great outdoors, you may want to put out some things to nibble on before the main course.
A few crostini or bruschetta toppings (like goat cheese and ramp chimichurri, or simple roasted garlic) and some toasted baguette slices brushed with olive oil make for a simple do-it-yourself crostini spread. Wedges of vegetable frittata (pictured) or smoked salmon-and-cream cheese frittata can also be picked up by hand.
Keep It Simple
Indoors or out, there is never anything wrong with a great cheese board, with sliced bread or crackers and maybe some olives, cornichons, fruit jams, nuts and dried fruit.
Dips and an assortment of cut-up vegetables for dunking are also an easy way to kick off a picnic spread: Try Creamy Avocado Dip, Edamame Pesto Dip or Sour Cream and Onion Hummus. Or, pack up a fun salsa like Pineapple Jalapeno Mint Salsa or Almost Famous Corn Salsa and some tortilla or rice chips for dipping.
Vegetable Sides and Salads
If you are bringing delicate green lettuce salads, pack the dressing separately and toss the salads when you get there. Otherwise, veer in the direction of sturdier vegetable sides and salads.
Some options: Picnic Sides and Salads
Grain and Pasta Sides
A hearty salad featuring barley, millet, farro, spelt, rice, couscous, wheat berries or good old pasta is a great anchor to a picnic spread. These days, with whole grains very much in the spotlight, there are so many gorgeous recipes to choose from. And never forget about potato salad, especially mayo-free ones, which hold up well against the heat.
Again, all of this is subjective, since many of the aforementioned vegetable and grain dishes and salads can function very well as "main dishes," especially for the vegetarians in the mix. It's all about what you are happy eating cold or at room temperature!
You’ll probably want to leave the layer cake and juicy fruit pie at home. Brownies, bars, cookies — that’s usually the way to go.
See: Packable Summer Picnic Desserts
Here are the basic choices:
1) An assortment of things in cans or bottles. (Check to make sure that glass bottles are welcome if you are picnicking in a public place.)
2) A thermos or two of prepared drinks: iced tea, lemonade, a sangria with or without alcohol. Put in plenty of ice to keep it chilled.
Disposable or Reusable?
At the Picnic Site
Make a Checklist
What could be worse than preparing and packing a delicious meal, only to realize once you get to your destination that you forgot the plates or forks? Make a checklist a few days in advance — it's the best way to guarantee you won't forget anything.