It’s finally summer! Which means it’s peak picnic season. There is nothing quite like sitting under a blue sky, the sun shining, breathing in some fresh summer air and sharing good food with family and friends, in a beautiful setting. So dreamy!
But preparing for a family day out is no easy feat! There are so many things for folks to consider; the weather forecast, the location, how long will we be there, is there shade (never mind, best to bring the cabana anyway), does Johnny eat that, where's the big blue esky gone (didn’t we lend it to your sister last summer?) ... the list goes on!
And when you finally have all the finer details sorted, there is still the matter of packing for your picnic. Stay calm folks! Just follow these 5 simple steps for picnic packing success…
the night before
1. find the esky!
Or dust off the picnic basket – whatever works for you. And consider how much food, drink and anything else you need to pack will fit, and if your esky or basket is big enough or if you might need both or something extra. Now is a good time to organise somewhere to sit, whether that’s a picnic rug or camping chairs and a trestle table and to make an executive about the cabana! Just make sure everything is washed clean, has time to dry and is ready to use the next day.
Now consider these ‘non-essential but definitely a good idea’ picnic items for upmost relaxation and good times, and pack so they’re ready to go.
2. prep some food
Save yourself picnic day stress by shopping and preparing what you can in advance. Cold meats, cheese cubes, vegie sticks and dips can all be prepped the day or night before. Same goes with most fruits.
For a summery treat, prepare some fresh fruit skewers by cubing melon and pineapple and threading them onto skewers along with some berries and grapes. Yum!
If you have the time, go a bit gourmet with snacks that can be easily shared and don’t require cutlery like mini quiches, sausage rolls or chicken wings and leave them to cool overnight. Don’t forget to pack your dipping sauces.
Decide if you will be packing share platter style or a lunchbox per person – then you can drop your prepared food into your containers and refrigerate, so they are ready to grab and go.
Investing in quality containers is worthwhile to ensuring you can store and stack plenty of food, for plenty of picnics over the years.
3. prep some drinks
Cheers to picnics, now what to drink? Water is obvious, simply fill a few drink bottles and refrigerate overnight.
Better yet, you can pop one or two in the freezer to use as cold packs. They’ll keep your esky or basket cool (and your food fresh), and then you have access to icy cold water as it melts throughout the day, and as you need to hydrate!
For the kiddies perhaps something a little sweeter, some fruit juice boxes prepped in the same way to act as cold packs.
Or how about some lovely home-made watermelon lemonade to really get the summer vibes flowing.
For approx. 4 serves you’ll need ½ a small watermelon, juice from approx. 2 lemons, 20g caster sugar and ½ litre of soda water. Whiz up the melon and pass through a sieve, add your lemon juice and caster sugar and stir to dissolve.
Then top up with soda water.
Using a funnel, pour into insulated drink bottles and refrigerate. Optional, for the grown-ups only, a splash of vodka to turn this summer drink into a refreshing cocktail. Note, fancy plastic glasses and little cocktail umbrellas are a must!
picnic day, hooray!
This is your last chance to bulk out the food stores and also impress your picnic pals with some tasty fare that can be whipped up quickly on picnic morning.
One of our faves is homemade popcorn with seasoning 2-ways; savoury and sweet, ranch and cinna-sweet.
You’ll need freshly popped popcorn (we prefer it popped in a saucepan, on the stovetop with a little oil or butter but microwave popcorn works too) approx. 4 cups for each.
Now for the seasoning:
Ranch - ½ tsp dried dill, ½ tsp dried chives, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp salt
Cinna-sweet - 2 tbsp icing sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt
Simply mix your seasoning and add each to four cups of popped popcorn. Combine well and drop into containers, sealing with the lid only once the popcorn has cooled completely.
So easy, so delish and both guaranteed to be crowd pleasers!
4. the perfect pack
Everything for your picnic should be ready to go! Lay out all your food and drink items so you don’t forget anything and so you have a clear view of what needs to be packed.
Also, check that all lids, caps and tops are properly placed and sealed shut. And wrap anything that has a chance of getting leaky or stinky in a plastic bag.
It’s a great idea to pack in order of removal – so the items you need first when you get to your picnic spot are the items you will pack at home last.
Start with a tea towel to absorb any moisture or leaks and either a cool pack or your frozen water bottles at the bottom, then as a general rule dessert first, followed by savoury items towards the top and drinks/condiments on the sides, keeping them upright where possible (or drinks can go in a separate esky/basket altogether).
Don’t forget to layer in your frozen drink bottles or juice boxes. And then of course, your picnic blanket on top.
You can steer away from general rules if for example you have desserts that are soft and will be squished at the bottom of the basket in which case move them up top. If you plan on taking cups (be it plastic or glass) they too are best kept up top.
You are officially picnic ready! A few pointers when you arrive at your picnic… find a spot that offers some shade and will keep your basket or esky cool and always keep the lid closed in between grabbing snacks and drinks.
Now… lay out your blanket or set up your chairs, get out your speaker and hit play. Set the kids up with a fun activity you’ve arranged and sit back for a moment, with a glass of watermelon lemonade and enjoy the moment folks, you’ve earnt it.