Picnics should be simple and easy, forget the mess. You need to be able to just get out there and enjoy time with family or friends, even time by yourself. If you spend a lot of time in an office or in the city areas, you need to get out into more open and fresh spaces – think about your favourite picnic spot.
The perfect picnic starts and ends with the people you’re picnicking with. Yet, it always helps to take some good stuff along too.
So how do you waste less time preparing and scouring for supplies?
It’s always good to have a bit of a checklist at the ready. So do not fret, have the main items close at hand and all you really need to prep is the food along with your plates and bowls.
These are some of the things that you are always going to need when you want a comfortable and relaxing time. Just to keep your mind at rest…
– The Blanket
A nice big blanket (and a plastic sheet to go underneath it of course!). The blanket can be considered the foundation of your picnic. It’s the place you’re going to gather upon to enjoy drinks, food and a good laugh. It works to protect insects or excess sand coming into your containers.
It also saves on the inevitable carnage – of spilled wine, other drinks or worse…even some food.
You want to go for cotton throws or sturdy quilts, which will be easy enough to dust off, remove stains from and also just throw into the wash once back home.
Whilst we’re on the topic of the basket, see whether it would be a good idea to take a few pillows with you. In case the sitting on the floor gets to you after a while or you want something to cosy up with in the winter.
– The Basket
This is a very important piece of equipment. Instead of running around with an unlimited amount of bags (which you still might need), you want to have everything in one or two secure picnic baskets. When selecting your baskets remember that you need to keep your food, utensils, cups and drinks in here so make sure they’re spacious and cater to your picnic needs. They are often woven-wood, preferably get them with a flat-top lid so that you can also use it as a table-top for drinks once you’re on the blanket – or else you might also wish to use a couple of trays for this purpose.
Try to work with reusable utensils and plates so that you’re not making use of too much plastic. If you are using disposable things then make sure that they are compostable. In reality you’ll do a better job with your usual utensils from home, just place them all in a bag for you to wash later.
Also, have a kit ready for small outings such as this. Pack some salt and pepper, maybe some lemon slices, sauces that you like, take some ice packs in summer to keep the drinks chilled.
– The Thermos
It’s always worth investing in a good thermos – it will last you a lifetime if you care for it properly. In the summer heat it will keep your lemonade or iced tea nice and frosty; come winter it’s the perfect place for your soups or hot chocolate, coffee and tea piping hot.
– Extra Bags
We often forget to take extra bags to place the used, empty and also dirty things in.
If you’re using carton packed drinks then you’re going to have to throw them away. You definitely need somewhere to place the used napkins. Once you empty your drinking jugs or wine bottles and clean out the food containers you want to place them in something so that you can be sure that they will not leak – you don’t want to get your basket messy do you?!
– First Aid Kit
Maybe if you’re not going to take a whole first aid kit – which might be handy to always carry in the boot of your car – then think about taking the essentials. Take an antibacterial with a few band aids, bandages, aspirin and sunscreen.
– To Play
Take something to play with, depending on what you enjoy. Take a football, or a rugby ball, if you fancy some badminton take your rackets, or how about a couple of board or card games.
It might be a good thing to have a magazine, book or sketchbook with you. Even if you don’t have time for it at least you have them with you.
You might also want to take some music and some microphones with you, just to keep the mood going if you’re with friends or are staying late into the night.
Cold dishes are the best option, you might even enjoy them if you’re going on a winter picnic. So, think cold pasta and you cannot forget the potato salad – a must as they are simply divine.
If you want something more wholesome then think about making a few pies, bite size or cut the pie up into slices. A quiche is a great alternative – it combines the elements of a pie with the feel of summer. What is so perfect about the quiche is that it’s so versatile, you can fill it with anything you like.
You might want to take a soup to warm you up, or have it cold during the hot months. It would be great to just dip your bread into. That of course leads us to that fact that you need a cutting board for that delicious bread!
Making a few simple but special sandwiches will also do the trick, make them hot ones if you’re feeling super chic. Take a few ready sausages to place in buns if you’re feeling like some hot dogs – just don’t forget the mustard and baked beans.
For something sweet…think about preparing some juicy hand pies or a lovely crumble – if it’s apple or forest fruits. If you prefer something chocolatey then go for brownies or cookies.
So…where to go…choose a nice and calm space to picnic at.
Remember, if this is going to be (or feel like) a spontaneous do then you want to spend more time outside than you do preparing inside.
A picnic can happen at any time and in any weather. Having these things ready or close at hand will just make it easier and less stressful. You can even have it in your own backyard!