The weather’s beautiful, there’s a local park that looks like an amazing place to visit, and it’s almost lunchtime. A picnic might sound like the perfect idea, but it is important to make sure everything is packed. Forgetting something essential can ruin what would otherwise be a fantastic afternoon, so packing carefully is crucial. Before heading out on any picnic, don’t forget to bring the following.
Picnic Basket (Or Bag)
Of course, a basket or bag is needed to carry all of the supplies. Traditionally, a picnic basket is a wicker or wooden basket with a liner inside of it. These still work well for any picnic, but it may also be a good idea to consider upgrading to an insulated bag. Insulated bags make it easier to keep food at a cold temperature to avoid anyone getting sick from egg salad that got a little too warm.
Today, there are tons of options to choose from, so take a little time to think about what’s needed. Consider the size carefully, as larger ones will be better for carrying everything needed for a family picnic, but they’re going to be heavier, too. There are ones with carrying straps or ones that can be converted into a backpack to make reaching the destination easier, as well as ones with more pockets for holding everything that might be needed.
Somewhere to Sit
Picnic tables are perfect, but they’re not always available. Maybe there aren’t any at the park, or they’re already taken by others. Or, maybe you’d just prefer the blanket on the ground to spread out a little more and enjoy the day. If a picnic table is available, it’s likely a good idea to bring a sheet to cover the table. Kids’ crib sheets are the perfect size to fit around most picnic tables, and since they’re fitted, they won’t go anywhere if the wind starts to blow.
When sitting on the ground, bring a blanket that can be spread out for everyone to sit on. Thinner blankets are usually fine and easier to carry. They’re used to make sure the food doesn’t touch the ground, so they don’t have to be very thick. Depending on where the picnic may be, though, a thicker blanket may end up being a little more comfortable. Just remember that it’s going to take up a little more room when it’s packed.
Dinnerware and Utensils
Finger foods are great for picnics, but they’re not the only option. Who wants to eat salads and other delicious foods with their fingers? Even if sandwiches and chips are on the menu, it’s a good idea to have plates available to help keep the food away from the ground or the table, so nothing gets ruined. Today, there are tons of options for dinnerware for picnics, so there’s something for just about any situation.
Those who are hiking and then having a picnic might want to opt for something that’s lightweight, so it’s not so heavy to carry. Those who love going on picnics and want something that’s going to last will want to check out some of the more durable options. Those who just want to give it a try can look into the less expensive options to find something perfect for using as a trial. Who knows? They may end up loving the dinnerware and continuing to enjoy picnics with them for many years to come.
Many people plan out foods they don’t have to cook once they get to their destination, but cooking can be a great way to enjoy a full meal and spend more time outdoors. Campgrounds may have small grills available or areas to build a fire. If this isn’t possible, there are mini propane tanks and other options to be able to cook just about anywhere. It doesn’t take much to cook a delicious meal while on the go. Even if that’s not in the plans, though, it may be a good idea to consider some of the delicious camping desserts to make the trip extra special.
Along with a way to cook, don’t forget bowls, pots or pans, and utensils for cooking. While many camping foods and desserts can be made with some aluminum foil or cooked directly over the flame, it does depend on the menu. Pots and pans designed for camping are lightweight, so they’re easy to carry and may be used to cook just about anything over the flame. Utensils are needed to safely cook the food, make sure it’s fully cooked before eating, and enjoy eating the piping hot meal.
Collapsible Cups and Ice
What is everyone going to drink during the picnic? Sodas have to be kept cold, as do many types of alcoholic drinks like wine. Water may be okay if it’s warm, but it’s going to taste better when it’s chilly, especially on a hot summer day. Consider ice packs to keep everything cold instead of ice cubes. The ice packs aren’t going to melt and get everything wet, so they’re perfect for packing in with the food to keep everything at the right temperature.
Depending on the drink of choice, cups may be needed. Avoid disposable cups, even if they’re labeled as biodegradable since they’re still single-use. Instead, opt for cups designed for picnics or camping. Collapsible cups are easy to carry there and back when they’re empty, can be refilled as needed with the drink of choice, and can be rinsed clean before taking them home. There are tons of options available for cups, so take a little time to find the right option.
Don’t forget all of the small things that make the picnic perfect. Condiments may be needed to make the sandwich perfect or to add to anything that’s being cooked, like hot dogs. Spices may also be needed if the menu involves cooking to make sure everything tastes amazing. Ready to try something new? There are condiments and sauces to make at home that can make the food at the picnic taste a lot better and give it that little something extra.
When packing condiments and spices, it may not be a good idea to pack the whole container. After all, only a little bit will be needed. Instead, for condiments, look into mini squeeze bottles with lids. Secure options are available that make it easy to bring just a little bit of each one, so there’s no need to worry about carrying the big bottles back home.
For spices, consider small containers like the ones tic-tac’s come in to make it easier to bring just the right amount. These containers are large enough to carry a little bit of the various spices without taking up too much room. Plus, it’s easy to open the container, shake a little out, and close it securely. Only a few may be needed, depending on what’s being cooked. If multiple spices will all be used to cook the same item, it may even be possible to pre-mix the spices before heading out.
Clean Up and Take Home
Packing up everything and getting ready for the picnic can be fun, but something many people don’t think about is how they’re going to get everything home. If it all fits in the picnic basket, it’s easy enough to carry it home, but this may not be desirable. Though the picnic basket will be lighter once all of the food is gone, it’s not typically the ideal place for all of the trash. It’s going to get messy as everything is carried back to the car.
Consider bringing along a trash bag to collect anything that needs to be thrown away. This does include food scraps, as it’s not recommended to leave them behind. Animals that feed on the food scraps from picnics could become sick or start to be dependent on humans for food, which means their chances of survival are lowered. Anything that’s brought to the picnic should be brought home again so the area can continue to be enjoyed for many years.
It’s also a good idea to bring a little water to rinse out any cups, bowls, pots, and other items, so they’re clean when they go back in the picnic basket. This helps keep everything clean, so it’s easy to put it all away again at home. A small water bottle will generally be sufficient for rinsing off anything after the picnic.
Ready to start planning a picnic? Make sure you have everything to make the trip a success. Whether you’re going on a drive and trying somewhere new or just heading to the park close to your house, a picnic can be a ton of fun as long as you’re prepared. Use the information here to make sure everything is packed and ready to go. If you’re feeling adventurous, use this time to try out new dinnerware and cooking gear to cook a meal away from home and spend the afternoon having a great time with family and friends.