International Picnic Day is coming up on June 18, so it’s time to find your favorite blanket, clean out your cooler, and prepare to have the perfect picnic to celebrate with your family or friends. With the following tips, your picnic will be easy, delicious and comfortable.
Keep bugs away
One reason that many people forgo picnics is because they are worried about bugs, but they don’t have to be a problem. You can easily keep them out of your drink by putting a cupcake liner (either tin or paper works fine) over the top of your cup and poking a straw through.
It is also a good idea to keep picnics scheduled for brunch or lunch, because the closer you get to dusk, the more likely you are to be invaded by mosquitos. If you pack a citronella candle to burn near your picnic blanket or table, you can help discourage pesky flies. They don’t work over a very large area, however, so bring several to surround your feast.
If you don’t want to slather on bug spray or spend your picnic sniffing citronella, there are still great options. In fact, you can beat the heat and keep away bugs at the same time by setting up a battery-operated fan to blow across your meal. The breeze makes things comfortable and does a great job discouraging flies from landing on your food.
Find a fun destination
A great picnic isn’t just about the food, the location matters as well. Many state parks have picnic tables and grills set up for outdoor family feasts, so check your state’s department of parks and recreation website. Some parks require advance reservations for large groups who wish to use more than one table, so if you are planning an outdoor party, make sure to check ahead of time.
Many people are surprised to discover that they can bring their own picnic to a large percentage of family-friendly tourist destinations like museums, aquariums, botanical gardens and zoos. Don’t rule out an attraction just because it has its own snack shop or cafeteria, check the website or give them a call to get the full scoop. In order to keep things affordable for thrifty families, they often allow picnicking guests free use of their tables, although some request that outside food be contained to certain seating or grassy areas only.
Keep it simple
You won’t enjoy your picnic if you have to spend hours preparing for it, so keep things as simple as possible by combing home-made and prepared food.
Mason jars are perfect for packing individual salads, just add the dressing first, followed by items that won’t get soggy like chopped carrots and cherry tomatoes. Add the lettuce on top so it stays crisp. When you are ready to eat, just shake it up to mix the ingredients and spread the dressing. It’s best to skip the cream-based dressing so it tastes fresh even after sitting for awhile.
For a filling main course that tastes great warm, cold or room temperature, nothing beats fried chicken. Buying it from the deli section of your grocery store the day before your picnic makes for a stress-free meal.
Sandwiches are another great choice for a main course. You can save time and avoid soggy bread by keeping the ingredients separate until picnic time. This method also allows each person to make their sandwich selections right before they eat, so you don’t have to worry about kids who may end up changing their mind if they have to choose hours ahead of time. A loaf of bread, two types of deli meat, condiments and two types of pre-sliced cheese will give you plenty of options for fun combinations.
Dessert is the easiest part of a picnic. Baked goods like cookies or muffins can be made days ahead of time and don’t require refrigeration. Sides are also simple and definitely don’t have to be home-made. String cheese, pretzels and baby carrots are healthy, hold up well and can satisfy any craving.
If you haven’t had a picnic in years, it can be a great way to have fun with your family on a budget, and with these tips, it will be as easy as it is delicious.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.