The type of picnic you are planning will determine the selection of picnic foods you should bring. If you are going on a walking trip, you will need to pack food that can fit into a small space and can be eaten without utensils. However, if you are traveling by car, you can pack more sophisticated picnic foods and equipment. Whatever the occasion, keeping picnics simple can ensure maximum fun and minimum fuss.
Picnic Foods: Making Sandwiches
Here are some tips for making sandwiches for a picnic:
- Freezing in advance: Make sandwiches for a picnic in advance and freeze them. Note that fillings containing hard-cooked eggs, mayonnaise, or salad are not suitable for freezing.
- Making crab bites: For bite-sized sandwiches, stamp out shapes from bread using a cookie cutter. Pipe with cream cheese from a tube and wrap around crab sticks. Secure the bites with toothpicks and pack them into boxes.
- Mixing bread: Add interest to sandwiches by using whole-wheat and white bread together with a filling between.
Picnic Foods: Adding Variety
Try these methods to add variety to your picnic foods:
Rolling pinwheels: Cut the crusts from thinly sliced bread and spread them with butter. Place on a dampened dish towel, spread with filling, and roll up inside the towel. Slice to create pinwheel shapes.
Using Whole Loaves
Instead of packing individual, filled rolls for a picnic, split a long baguette lengthwise. Brush the surface with olive oil, add a savory filling, and wrap. Slice into portions at the picnic site. See the image below for a better understanding.
Consider the following tips for transporting desserts to a picnic:
Serve a fruit dip: Puree fresh fruits, such as strawberries or mangoes, with honey to taste. Pour into a small plastic container, and transport to the picnic site inside a larger container together with sliced fruits for dipping into the puree.
Choosing Easy Picnic Foods
Here are some easy picnic foods that you can bring along:
- Serving crudites: Pack a basket of simple, fresh crudites with a tub of your favorite dip and an ice pack for easy eating without plates. Choose vegetables that require little preparation, such as whole baby carrots, baby corn, radishes, mushrooms, and cooked new potatoes.
- Packing individual portions: Take individual quiches or pies instead of a large one, so that they can be eaten easily without utensils, and there will be no need to slice them into portions.
- Wrapping potatoes: For cold-weather picnics, wrap baked potatoes in foil. Pack them in several layers of newsprint or in an insulated bag.
A Bright Picnic Food Idea
Make individual mousses or crème brûlées in small ramekins, then stack them together with a piece of cardboard between each one. Wrap the stack in plastic wrap for transport.
Choosing Picnic Food Equipment
There is no need to buy a lot of special equipment for picnics, but an insulated cooler bag with ice packs is essential for keeping food cold and fresh, especially in the summer. Disposable plates and glasses are lighter and safer to carry than china and glassware.
Selecting Picnic Food Containers
- Packing food: Use square food containers where possible, since they are easier to stack than round ones and therefore take up less space. Round plastic containers often have good seals, so use these for transporting liquids.
- Choosing a thermos: Use a wide-necked food thermos to keep foods such as fruit salad cold. They can also be used to keep casseroles or soups hot.
- Using boxes: If you do not have a picnic basket, use a large cardboard box instead. It will hold more and be easier to pack than a traditional picnic basket.
Using Camping Stoves
Making a firm base: If you take a small portable camping stove on a picnic, make sure that you use it safely. Before lighting it, place it on a metal tray on a level piece of ground, well away from plants and trees.
Picnic Food and Picnic Checklist
Check that you have packed the following useful items:
- Salt and pepper
- Paper napkins or towels
- Sharp knife for cutting bread and other foods
- Plastic or paper plates, glasses, and cutlery
- Serving spoons
- Drinking water
- Blanket or tablecloth
- Large umbrella
- Dampened disposable cloth in a plastic bag
- Insect repellent
- First-aid kit
- Garbage bag
Packing Picnic Foods
Packing picnic foods is largely a matter of common sense. With a little careful planning, your food will arrive at the intended picnic site cool, undamaged, and ready to eat. A general rule is to pack heavy or un-squashable items first and put more delicate items on top of them.
Picnic Foods: Transporting Salads
Leaving space: Pack salads loosely into rigid containers to prevent crushing and allow the ingredients to breathe.
To keep the crispness of a green salad, toss it with the dressing at the picnic site. Transport the dressing in a screw-top jar packed in the same container as the salad.
Packing Small Items
Packing a corkscrew: To ensure that you remember to take a corkscrew and to make it easy to find at the picnic site, tape a corkscrew to a bottle of wine using masking tape.
Picnic Foods – Preventing Problems
- Using tissue paper: Place tarts with delicate edges in rigid boxes and surround them with crumpled tissue paper for protection during transportation.
- Wrapping glasses and china: Carefully wrap drinking glasses or china plates that you are taking on a picnic in bubble wrap to prevent damage.
- Packing bottled drinks: Lie bottles on their side in ice in a covered cooler to keep them cool and avoid breakage.
- Packing foods in order: As much as possible, pack foods in the order they will be needed, with desserts at the bottom.
- Avoiding spills: Allow carbonated drinks to stand after the journey so that they do not squirt when opened.
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