How To Plan A Perfect Picnic is not as complicated as you might think.
Summer is almost over and we all look to be outside as much as possible. This year was a weird one and all of us were stuck in the house more than we wanted to.
Having a picnic is a fun activity. From a romantic one to a small family gathering, spending some time outside before the weather changes is a good thing for all of us.
I, personally, love summer a lot, so I can get out in the nature more often and enjoy the sun. I also love eating outside and do it as often as I can.
Outdoors eating requires a little bit of planning and you can make it super easy or super elaborated based on your taste, occasion or mood.
What are the basics things you need for a successful picnic?
- Picnic basket- There are a multitude of picnic baskets to choose from, based on your needs, number of people or how fancy you want to be.
- Picnic blanket- a wool one is better because it keeps you warm, especially in the evening when could be a little bit chilly.
- Cooler- for your drinks.
- Plates, glasses, napkins, cutlery that can be reusable or disposable(if you have a small group, for example, use reusable ones, if you have a big group, use disposable)
- Bottle opener(for wine and beer)
- Jackets and blankets in case you get chilly
- Food and your favorite drinks
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What kind of food is good for a picnic:
You will need to think about foods that everyone is OK eating cold or at room temperature. From appetizers, like cheese and salami to desserts that don’t need to be served warm, the possibilities are endless.
This could be anything, from a delicious crusty baguette ( toasted and brushed with olive oil for a simple do-it-yourself crostini spread) or artisanal bread to pita chips, tortillas and anything in between. Slices of bread, pita or tortilla make a good vessel for dips or salads.
Cold cuts and cheese on a wooden board:
These are usually my favorite, because I don’t need to cook or prepare anything.
What kind of items to place on a wooden board:
You could place on a wooden board anything your heart desires. I can just slice some good salami and some cheese, throw a few olives, cornichons, fruit jams, nuts or dried fruit in the mixture and I am good to go.
Here is an example. There are all kinds of pickles, salami, nuts, pita bread, a few types of cheese (get good quality cheese, like Feta, Jarlsberg, Cheddar, Manchego, Gouda, Brie etc)
Credit photo: Jessica To’oto’o
Here is another example of a different spread. This one has apples, bread, salami, cheese, jam and citrus fruit.
Credit photo: Jessica To’oto’o
Finally, this one is a little bit different, good especially if you have a picnic in the garden, on the porch or the back yard.
The idea is the same, some vegetable slices, like tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, peppers, some strawberries, cheese, olives, salami, ham, bread and butter, some guacamole.
WHAT OTHER FOODS TO BRING TO A PICNIC?
I have an awesome recipe for cheese straws that are amazing and super easy to make. Perfect to munch on with a glass of wine or beer.
Quiche or a vegetable frittata:
I love those because they are super portable and delicious and can be served either warm or cold.
Vegetable patties- like these Zucchini patties that are delicious to munch on but you can make an awesome sandwich with some good bread and slices of tomatoes. Yum!
Spreads are good as you can place a container in the center of the picnic table and everybody can enjoy them. I like this Grilled eggplant spread that can be made only with eggplants or like this version that also has roasted peppers.
SALADS AND SALSAS:
In general, I am not a fan of picnic food with mayo in them. It is hot, the food sits too much in the sun and it spoils super fast. Mayo is one of these items that don’t do well in the heat, so I prefer salads that are easy to make and stay fresh for longer without the addition of any heavy condiments.
I love this Authentic Mexican Pico de Gallo with Tuna.
In Mexico City this dish is served with saltine crackers as appetizer.
Another salad that I love in the summer is this Tomato Cucumber and Pepper Salad that can be served with any meats, cheese or by itself. Dip some crusty bread in the juices from the tomatoes and get happy. Or make this Cucumber Salad and let it marinade for 30 minutes before you serve it. It is delicious!
If you are looking for more sturdy salads try these ones:
MEAT OR MAIN DISH:
I have a few favorite recipes for this part of the picnic meal. Chicken Tenders or Chicken Schnitzels, as I like to call them, are number one on my list.
These chicken tenders made from scratch are easy to make and perfect to put them in a sandwich, or eat them like that with a tomato salad.This is by far my favorite way to eat in the summer. Everyone in the family likes them from kids to elders.
Here you have more ideas for meat options:
Fried chicken- Grandma style– this is an easy fried chicken that is not breaded. Pack it in a container and keep it cold in the cooler until you serve it. Perfect next to an awesome salad.
Romanian Meatballs or Meat Patties– this is a recipe that, again, I grew up with. If we took a road trip, chicken tenders and meat patties were placed in between two slices of bread with some mustard and eaten by the side of the road, while taking a break. If we went to the beach, picnics or up, in the mountains, this is what my mom packed for the entire family. Nutritious and economical, if you ask me.
Mexican chicken tinga- this is a recipe to serve on corn tortillas or with tortilla chips. Pack some lime wedges, some shredded cheese and enjoy it.
There is no real picnic without dessert, right? The possibilities are endless, from ice cream bars, popsicles to cookies, brownies and bars.
Again, I prefer desserts that are made with ingredients that do not spoil in the sun or melt. I avoid heavy cream, dairy, buttercreams and other heavy stuff and stick with either fresh fruit, or bars and cookies that are safe to eat at any temperature.
Here are some of my preferances when it comes to awesome dessert:
Brownies– One of my favorites is this recipe for Triple Chocolate Stout Brownies– It is kind of an adult brownie that is delicious and easy to make. Another option would be this Coffee and Cinnamon Brownie recipe.
Bars- Czech Bars with jam is an awesome recipe that travels really well. Another option would be an Apple Pie Bar. This is a Romanian recipe where the apples are cooked down before being baked with the crust. This makes the bars to be more sturdy and perfect for an outside event.
Other more awesome recipes for bars that are perfect for picnics:
Coffee Breads: This is another category of dessert that travels well and is perfect for picnics, outdoor parties and gatherings. This is by far one of my favorite recipes for the summer, as you can replace the berries with peaches, plums or other seasonal fruits.
Besides this awesome recipe, some other favorite recipes are, again, coming from my childhood, when a good slice of coffee cake was very welcomed among all members of the family.
Cookies- Cookies are by far the easiest option when it comes to dessert in the summer. They travel well, don’t get spoiled, very portable with no need for cutlery and plates.
There are many options out there and as much as I agree with you that a stash of cookies from the grocery store would solve the dessert part, there is nothing better than homemade cookies, which brings me to this list of all the cookies I have on the blog, so you can choose from, based on your needs:
And finally DRINKS!
Are you still here? If you are, I applaud you, as this one was a long post, but hopefully informative and helpful to guide you through putting together a great picnic that everyone will love! Happy end of summer, everyone!