This post is sponsored by Kia.
Picnics are the ultimate Pinterest activity; lovely, classy, charming… and something we never seem to get around doing. Maybe it is because we are too busy, and it’s easier to just eat at home (or at a restaurant) and run off to wherever it is we need to run off too. Maybe it is because we simply don’t know how to really put a picnic together that holds up to the ideas (and Pins) we believe are required for a successful picnic.
Whatever the reason; I encourage you to pack a picnic. I would implore you, but that seems a little bossy. You don’t have to do everything perfectly; but there are some basic elements for a good picnic and once you know them you will be picnic-ing your head off.
First, choose the right spot. A crowded location is not a good choice. Picnics should be relaxing and allow you to connect with your picnic partners which cannot be done in a busy space. Check different city and county parks and keep trying until you find one that suits your tastes. Mine is a small park south of town with a little stream running through it. Packing up the Kia and cruising to our picnic spot takes us less time than it would to drive to a restaurant, and buzzing through the deli to get the provisions costs far less than it would if we went out to eat.
Second, have one awesome bit of picnic food and simplify the rest. It shouldn’t take you days to prepare for a picnic. I rotate between an amazing side salad, awesome sandwiches, or fantastic deserts. I do not do all three at once. On a recent picnic I made a lovely tortellini salad that always gets compliments when I take it to parties. It is the only thing that was not easily acquired by zipping through the grocery store.
Our sandwiches were simply good deli meat and cheese, a loaf of crusty bread cut up, and nice mustard. Desert was just a bag of assorted cookies. Other times, I will make a home made desert like brownies, or make some really fancy sandwiches ahead of time and wrap them in waxed paper with a little piece of string just to add an old-fashioned effect to them. Even our drink, a carbonated lemonade, was bottled and kept cool with a nifty little bag which you freeze first, then put your drinks in to keep nice and cool. Little touches fancy up a picnic quickly!
Third, choose foods that are good ‘nibbles’. Picnics are not like other meals. They should be meals enjoyed leisurely and allow for a bite of this and a taste of that. Set out food that can last for a while without refrigeration such as cheese, grapes, nuts, and crackers.
Sliced deli meat, especially salami or Prosciutto and other cured meats works better than mayonnaise based sandwiches like chicken, egg, or tuna salad. Let folks come and go as they please, leaving plenty of time for a walk down to the stream or a quick hike through the woods.
Fourth, take something flat. I have a large cutting board I take on picnics that doubles as a stabilizer for drinks as well as allows me space to set out the foods for the picnic. Keeping cups steady and creating a clean look for the food is much easier when it’s done on one surface.
Fifth, take bug spray. Nothing ruins a picnic faster than an ant invasion, so make sure you pack some repellant to keep them at bay. If you are going to a sunny spot, pack some sunscreen too. No one wants an after-picnic sunburn!