Eating outdoors, no matter the setting, can be a lot of fun and a great break from a traditional dinner. Whether you’re eating in the backyard or on a camping trip, finding the right plates to use is important. Instead of picking up paper plates, it might be time to think about getting something a bit more durable. There are tons of options to choose from to have fun when eating outside.
Why Should You Avoid Paper Plates?
The reason behind avoiding paper plates is two-fold. The first is concerns with the environment. Paper plates, while they may be biodegradable, do add to the trash created every day. Plus, the packaging is plastic, so even if you pick up paper plates instead of Styrofoam, they’re still adding to the waste that doesn’t break down over time.
On top of this, they’re not all that great for outdoor use. While they can and often are used outdoors, they’re only good for dry foods. Anything that has a little moisture can cause the plates to rip or tear, leading to food falling on the floor. This could end up creating a much bigger mess and wasting quite a bit of food. While Styrofoam plates are sturdier, they’re worse for the environment. It’s better to pick out something reusable and sturdy to enjoy eating dinner outside.
Types of Plates to Use
When it comes to plates, the options are endless. Some have unique colors or designs, while others are a little plain. When it’s time to pick out plates, though, the important thing to consider is what it’s made from. Some of the options include the following.
Melamine plates are a common choice because they’re incredibly inexpensive. There are options that do not have BPA in them, so they are safer to use. They come in a wide variety of colors and designs, so there’s something that’s perfect for every occasion.
Silicone plates are similar to plastic, but they can be more versatile and safer to use. They’re BPA-free and do have a higher melting point, so it’s easier to keep them sanitized.
Eco-friendly options include bamboo plates. These are lightweight and tend to be durable, so they’re a great option for backyard fun. They’re also dishwasher safe, so they’re easy to clean.
Metal plates can be more durable, and aluminum ones are an inexpensive option to get started. However, it is important to note that aluminum plates can be dented, so they may need to be replaced eventually.
Stainless Steel or Enamel
Stainless steel plates are harder than aluminum, so they resist denting. They are a little bit heavier than aluminum, too. Enamel plates are stainless steel plates with an enamel coating, adding to the look and durability.
Titanium plates are durable and lightweight, making them perfect for packing food to eat on the go, but they are more expensive than other options. Campers may want to consider titanium plates because of their weight.
Picking Out Fun Plates
Have a little bit of fun picking out the plates. While plain white ones will do, why not pick out different colors for each person or try out fun designs? Outdoor plates can add quite a bit of style and color to the occasion and can be swapped out depending on the season or holiday. Check out the holiday options each year, or opt for fun designs to be used throughout the year when enjoying an outdoor meal.
Setting Up the Table
Setting up the table can be part of the fun. Along with the right plates, have cups and utensils on hand and ready to go. Cups can be made from a variety of materials, too, so there’s no need to worry about glass cups being dropped and shattering. Pick out cups and utensils that complement the plates used to create a fun table setting that everyone will enjoy.
Try a Food Tent
A bit part of the problem with eating outdoors is the pests. Flies often appear as soon as the food is ready to eat and can be a pain to deal with, especially if there is a potluck-style meal. To keep the flies away, try a food tent. These are a piece of mesh that can be set up over a bowl or plate to help keep flies out. They’re available in tons of different colors, so they can add a little bit more color to the gathering and look great while being practical.
Packing Plates to Go
Packing the plates to go can be easy to do. Depending on the durability, they may be able to just be placed in a bag. Keep utensils separate from plates and cups to avoid scratching and protect against dents. Pack a wet bag, too, for placing the plates in after eating. This way, they don’t have to be fully dry when it’s time to head home.
Cleaning Up After Eating
At home, it’s easy to wash the plates like normal. When camping, though, it might not be as easy. Have a bag on hand to handle any leftover food, and make sure it’s disposed of properly. Scrape as much as possible off the plates and into the bag. Then, use a little bit of water to rinse the plates. If they’re only needed for one day, this will clean them enough to get home where they can be washed properly. When camping for multiple days, soap and water in a bin can be used for washing the plates.
With the gorgeous weather outside, eating dinner outdoors can be a lot of fun. But paper plates aren’t always a good option. Instead, look into fun outdoor dinnerware sets to enjoy. Colorful options are available and can be combined with outdoor table settings to create a fun place to sit and enjoy dinner together. Whether you’re camping or enjoying the backyard, have the right plates on hand to enjoy the dinner without any worries.