Summer is here – finally! If you are looking to head outside into the great outdoors to soak up that summer sunshine and warmer weather after the cold, dark days of winter, pack yourself a picnic. Invite family, friends and neighbors to join you and make an afternoon of it. Here are ten tips to consider when packing for a summertime picnic.
#1 Bring Bug Spray and Sunblock
When it comes to planning a summertime picnic, the first thing you may think about is food, but don’t forget the bug spray! It’s an absolute essential when dining al fresco in the great outdoors as is sunscreen. Be sure to reapply frequently! Our friend, The Wellness Mama, has some tips on making your own homemade sunscreen. There are all-natural bug repellents available that work well.
#2 Compost, Recycling and Trash
By utilizing reusable plates and silverware, you can greatly reduce any picnic waste, but come prepared with three separate bags, one for compost, one for recycling and one for any garbage that may accumulate.
#3 Easy to Pack Snacks
To prevent any food safety concerns, pack a picnic that is largely based of foods that are safe to eat and enjoy at room temperature like fresh fruit and vegetables, crackers, nut butters, chips, homemade hummus, nuts, seeds, jerky and chocolate.
#4 Freeze Fruit
Don’t get weighed down by heavy dessert dishes. Instead, keep things light with frozen fresh fruit like berries and grapes! Blueberries have fantastic anti-oxidant properties. Another super-food berry with even more anti-oxidants is the Aronia Berry. It has a slightly bitter after taste but makes an incredibly healthy snack or delicious pie filling.
The heat and humidity during the dog days of summer can be intense, so remember to stay hydrated. Freeze BPA-free water bottles and use them as ice packs before using to quench your thirst.
#6 Keeping Foods Cold
After preparing any picnic beverages and foods you wish to serve cold, let them cool to room temperature before storing in your refrigerator. When you’re ready to head out to your prime picnic spot, place ice packs at the bottom of your cooler before placing your food and beverages on top. Be sure to keep the cooler lid closed when it’s not in use to keep the inside as cool as possible and store in a shady location out of the sun.
If you save your coolers from US Wellness, this is an excellent opportunity to re-purpose and re-use and the coolers keep your picnic items well insulated.
Tip: Keep cold food at 40º Fahrenheit or cooler. Keep fresh produce, already prepared foods and raw foods separate to prevent cross-contamination.
#7 Keeping Foods Frozen
If you wish to bring frozen food and treats to your summer picnic, it is possible with the help of dry ice. Dry ice will keep frozen foods frozen for up to 24 hours. However, it cannot be handled with bare skin, so be sure to wear gloves when handling it. Most dry ice comes wrapped in plastic bags, but it’s still best to wear gloves, just in case!
#8 Keeping Foods Hot
If you wish to serve a hot dish at your picnic and your picnic spot is close to home, simply bring your dish to a simmer right before leaving the house and be sure to serve it within one hour. If your picnic spot is a little farther away, transport it in an insulated cooler. Be sure to line the top and bottom of the cooler with kitchen cloths or towels as any open-air space will quickly dissipate heat. Hot beverages or soups can easily be stored in wide mouth thermoses for hours.
If your preferred picnic area has outdoor grills or you plan on taking your own mobile grill, franks are easy to freeze and quick to prepare. Smoked Salmon is also an excellent choice as it’s ready to eat right out of the package.
Smoked Salmon is a delicious, ready to eat picnic treat!
#9 Pack Extra Utensils
Pack extra utensils. You can never have too many forks, knives and spoons. Plus, you should never use the same utensils for raw seafood, poultry or meat, so go ahead and throw in an extra pair or two of tongs and kitchen utensils in your picnic basket. You never know when you will need them!
#10 Seek Shade
Although we all enjoy fun in the sun, take a break and seek some shade from time to time. Scout out a big tree and enjoy its shade to prevent heat exhaustion and sunburn.
Practice these ten tips when preparing for your next summertime picnic and your outdoor event is sure to be a success!