Picnic baskets, blankets, coolers ... my love of it all rivals Yogi-Bear's deep devotion. Really, it's true. My pantry is filled with all the accoutrements for fixing up great pic-a-nic baskets. As soon as the weather gets tolerantly warm, we break it all out and choose a spot.
For the food, I have three key rules. It must be:
- Easy to eat with few utensils
- Not too messy
- Can stand-up to hot temperatures
Basically I prefer foods that can easily be eaten with forks, such as Antipasti Pasta Salad or Avocado and Red Pepper Israeli Couscous are great. Anything that requires a knife is out.
Sandwiches are also a great food to pack for picnics. I love grabbing an Italian sub from the local deli. But making them at home is great too. A few great ones can be found right here on Tablespoon too. Check out Petite French Picnic Sandwiches, which are filled with beef, tomatoes and herbed cheese - yum! I also love the sound of Antipasto Picnic Sandwiches too.
I typically pack some chopped up veggies and a special dip too, since finger foods like that are great for picnics. Something like Roasted Garlic Bean Dip or Zippy Dill Vegetable Dip would be perfect. But do note that if you are taking perishable dips like the latter of the two, you should store it in a chilled cooler to prevent spoilage.
Whatever you do, don't forget something to drink. Filling up your reusable water bottles is a good place to start. But what if you want something with a little more ... flavor? Try Old-Fashioned Lemonade or Frosty Raspberry Lemonade ... both would be awesome.
And finally, you can't forget dessert. Skip the chocolate-y delights and the frosted cupcakes. They won't work, since both could melt in the high temperatures. Instead, opt for fresh chopped fruit or something melt-resistant like Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
(No, fried chicken isn't my thing ... at least not for picnics. But if that's something you adore, check out Buttermilk Country Fried Chicken or Crunchy Chicken Drumsticks.)
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.