How To Plan A Perfect Picnic is not as complicated as you might think.
Summer is here, and we all look to be outside as much as possible. 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 good for all of us.
I, personally, love summer and like to go out in nature as often as possible to enjoy the sun. I also love eating outside. 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 basic things you need for a successful picnic?
- Picnic basket- There are many 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 it could be a little bit chilly.
- Cooler- for your drinks.
- Plates, glasses, napkins, and 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 suitable for a picnic:
You will need to think about foods that everyone is OK eating cold or at room temperature. The possibilities are endless, from appetizers like cheese and salami to desserts that don’t need to be served warm.
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 suitable 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 slice some good salami and 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, and 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 slightly different, especially if you have a picnic in the garden, on the porch, or in the backyard.
The idea is the same, some vegetable slices, like tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, peppers, strawberries, cheese, olives, salami, ham, bread and butter, and some guacamole.
What other foods to bring to a picnic?
I have a fantastic 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, you can make an excellent 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 this version with 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 any heavy condiments.
I love this Authentic Mexican Pico de Gallo with Tuna.
In Mexico City, this dish is served with saltine crackers as an appetizer.
Another salad that I love in the summer is Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper Salad, which can be served with any meat, cheese, or itself. Dip some crusty bread in the juices from the tomatoes and get happy. Or make this Cucumber Salad and let it marinate for 30 minutes before serving it. It is delicious!
If you are looking for more sturdy salads, try these:
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 in a sandwich or eat 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 are 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 excellent 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 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 and some shredded cheese, and enjoy it.
There is no real picnic without dessert. The possibilities are endless, from ice cream bars and popsicles to cookies, brownies, and bars.
Again, I prefer desserts 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 preferences when it comes to an excellent dessert for outdoor activities:
Brownies– One of my favorites is this recipe for Triple Chocolate Stout Brownies– It is 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 a fabulous 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 more sturdy and perfect for an outdoor event.
Other more awesome recipes for bars that are perfect for picnics:
Coffee Bread: 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 come from my childhood, when a good slice of coffee cake was welcomed among all family members.
Cookies- Cookies are by far the easiest option for dessert in the summer. They travel well, don’t get spoiled, and are 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 that 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!