Nothing says summertime like a retreat to a shady spot for a yummy meal and a little R&R. One of our greatest pleasures during the warm weather — July is National Picnic Month, in fact — is packing some food in a basket, gathering family and friends and heading outdoors to eat summer’s best bounty.
What’s to be attributed to this time-honored tradition? Historians believe meals outdoors were probably first eaten during the Middle Ages when hunting became popular among the leisure class. These feasts were depicted in artworks of the time, like the ballads of Robin Hood.
If you haven’t picnicked this year (or even if you’ve done it plenty), consider closing out summer break with a little al fresco dining. And by all means, if you’re going to picnic, picnic right! Here are a few tips to make sure you have a successful meal:
It’s all about the blanket.
Right? Sitting in the grass or packing chairs is not an option. Bring a large blanket (or two) that allows you to spread out amongst your food and enjoy the meal. Most importantly, make sure it’s comfortable. Ain’t nobody got time for an itchy, wool blanket during summer, or one that soaks up all the liquid around. Check out these options, which have waterproof bottom layers that can protect against wet grass or spills.
Choose the right plate.
Avoid drippy, soggy nonsense by passing up paper plates and choosing plastic or enamel instead. They’ll still be light enough to carry and easy to clean up. (If you are really feeling fancy, you can buy fully-equipped picnic baskets that come with plates and utensils. They make great wedding gifts!)
Don’t get sticky.
When you’re considering your menu, think clean. Steer clear of ice cream, puddings, syrups or anything that could melt or leave a sticky mess. You’ll keep those pesky insects at bay (remember to bring bug spray, too!) and have a much more enjoyable dining experience.
But if you do get sticky …
Make sure you don’t leave home without wet wipes and bags for trash. The wipes can take care of sticky messes, but also clean those plastic or enamel plates when you’re finished. You’ll undoubtedly have things to throw away, so being prepared for clean-up is essential.
Think fresh (and finger) foods.
The best approach for a picnic menu is to pack fresh garden foods and items that can be easily eaten with your hands. A large tossed salad is delicious on a hot, summer day. Use jam jars to mix a couple of simple dressings (like vinegarette) you can easily shake up and carry with you. Chop up some of the summer’s best fresh veggies — sweet peppers, cucumbers, carrots — and bring a tub of hummus or yogurt dip to pair. Small sandwiches with pimento cheese or chicken salad are a great addition. And don’t forget a sweet treat. Fresh fruit on a skewer is easy to eat and tasty.
Keep it cool.
The summer heat can wear down your food quickly, so make sure you preserve it with a cooler or insulated bags.
Now go get your picnic on. And enjoy!
Our tumblers are a great way to keep your picnic drink cool! And you get to feel inspired at the same time. Share your picnic photos with us on Instagram by using #wordstoliveby!