Great Picnic Foods and Picnic Ideas
Picnics can be fun and easy!
It will soon be picnic season again - that great American pastime with great American recipes! Picnics are an extremely popular pastime here in the United States, as I suppose they are all over the globe. There’s just something about dining in the great outdoors that makes everything taste better. Besides, picnics are a lot of fun, no matter where you go. By planning ahead, your picnic will go off without a hitch. The first thing you’ll need to decide is where you’ll have this outdoor repast. It doesn’t have to be anywhere special or exotic – you can take your own fun with you!
Below are some picnic ideas for foods, beverages, and other vital essentials:
Picnic ideas for meats
Meats that are eaten cold are best for picnics. You can make these into sandwiches, wraps, or pita pockets. If you don’t want sandwiches and such, consider chicken salad, shrimp salad, seafood salad, or ham salad. These are great when eaten with crackers. Other picnic ideas for meats are cold fried chicken, cold boiled shrimp, and summer sausage. Be sure to take along any condiments you want with the meats, including cocktail sauce, spicy mustard, and barbecue sauce.
Picnic ideas for veggies and sides
You’ll probably want to include some veggies on your picnic. The easiest vegetables for picnics are those that are served raw. Just slice cucumbers, yellow squash, or zucchini, and leave cherry or grape tomatoes and baby carrots whole. You might also want to include some broccoli and cauliflower florets. All of these can be placed in Ziploc bags so that they’re ready to eat once you arrive at your destination. Serve them with a chilled dip.
Another good vegetable dish for picnics is bean salad. This is easy to make, and it’s delicious. Just combine a can of cut green beans, a can of yellow wax beans, and a can of dark red kidney beans. Add some red onion, Italian dressing, vinegar, salt and pepper, and sugar to taste. This is better if it sits in the fridge overnight.
Other side dishes that are good picnic ideas are pasta salad, corn salad, potato salad, slaw, and black-eyed pea salad.
Chilled fruits are a must on a picnic. If you choose fruits with a high water content, like watermelon or grapes, you won’t even have to pack drinks if you don’t want to. Eating such fruits will quench your thirst. Prepare any fruits before leaving home. Slice larger fruits and place them in Ziploc bags. Smaller fruits like grapes, fresh cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries can be washed and placed whole in plastic bags or containers.
Be careful not to let the fruits become frozen. This can happen if you place them directly in the ice in a cooler. Freezing often changes the taste, texture, and appearance of fruits.
Desserts for picnics
Angel food cake makes a nice picnic dessert. It travels well, and you can jazz it up with fresh fruit or fruit syrups. Pound cake works well, too. Any cake with icing is going to be messy to transport, unless you have a special carrier. The same goes for most pies. Other good desserts for picnics include cookies, brownies, chewy bread squares, and pre-packaged snack cakes. If you choose to include snack cakes, remember that if it’s warm outside, chocolate will melt into a big mess.
Another idea for picnic desserts is to make individual parfaits in paper or plastic cups. Instead of ice cream, use pudding or cheesecake filling. Separate the different layers with fruit, cookie crumbs. whipped cream, granola, small candies, or pie filling.
Other picnic foods
Queso dip in a jar
Beverages for picnics
Be careful with beverages you take on a picnic. A lot of people like to take a big jug of iced tea to a picnic here in the South. The problem is that if you add ice to keep the tea or other beverage cold, the taste will be diluted as the ice melts. To solve the problem, make ice cubes with tea. If you’re taking a fruit drink like Kool-ade, make ice cubes with ginger ale. As the ice melts, the flavor of your drink will improve instead of becoming weaker!
If kids are joining in on the picnic, consider purchasing drink boxes or juice boxes. These can be left in the fridge overnight and then popped in the freezer for an hour or so. By the time the kids are ready to drink them, the drink boxes will be frosty cold but not frozen. Of course, some picnic baskets and picnic sets have insulated compartments for keeping drinks cold.
· If you have a ways to drive for your picnic, freeze non-carbonated beverages the night before. These can serve a dual purpose. They can keep your other foods cold and provide ice-cold drinks for your meal.
· Carry along some sort of wet wipes with you. Baby wipes work well for this purpose.
· Bring along a large jug of plain water.
· Don’t forget the insect repellant - stick some in your picnic basket. Remember – ants love a good picnic!
· If you have young children in your group, toss a blankie and a couple of pillows in your vehicle in case they need a nap.
· Don’t forget the music.
· Take a plastic trash bag for the proper disposal of plates, cups, and any paper and wrappers.
· Carry more food than you think you’ll need. Something about eating outdoors really stimulates the appetite!
· Bring along a ball, a Frisbee, a board game, a bat, and/or a butterfly net.
· If you’re planning some activities that involve exercise, be sure to have PLENTY of cold liquids available.
· If you’re including foods other than finger foods, don’t forget to pack knives and forks in your picnic basket. Some picnic baskets and picnic sets include their own knives, forks, and spoons.
· Take plenty of napkins or paper towels.
· Don’t make sandwiches and wraps too far in advance. The bread or wrapper will get soggy.
· Remember to take a good knife along if you’ll have to be slicing anything.
· Don’t forget the salt and pepper.
· Camp chairs make picnics more comfortable.
· Include a basic first-aid kit on your picnic, including antiseptic spray and band-aids.
These are just a few picnic ideas to get you started. You’ll think of lots more on your own, based on your family’s likes and dislikes. The main purpose of a picnic is to get outside and spend some quality time with friends and family. You don’t need a specific recipe for that. You’ll come up with all kinds of picnic ideas for yourself!
Picnic baskets and picnic sets:
More about picnics:
- Buy a Great Picnic Basket Online!
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