How To Plan A Perfect Picnic is not as complicated as you might think.
Summer is almost here and we all look to be outside a little bit more. The picnic blanket is coming out from the back of the closet and you cannot wait to use it on weekends. The sun is shining and the nature is inviting us to be out there and enjoy the summer activities.
I, personally, cannot wait for the summer to come, 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 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, 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 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:
Today I will share with you this easy dark chocolate walnut cookies recipe. This recipe is a decadent, delicious and suitable way to satisfy any chocolate cravings and perfect for any chocolate lover.
There is dark chocolate, but there are also walnuts and chocolate chips and everything together makes a divine cookie that will make you fall in love with.
Rose Petals Butter Cookies are the perfect way to add a little elegance to your holiday cookie platter, or any event in your life when cookies are required. It is a recipe that will bring joy to the ones who will try it.
Easy to make, these cookies have hints of rose petals, rose water and butter.
These Lemon Lavender Butter Cookies could make a great gift for family and friends! Bake them in the winter and they will bring summer closer to you.
Olive Oil Lemon Cookies With Herbs– a wonderful recipe to make when you have a sweet tooth. An easy recipe, that is made with olive oil and rosemary, thyme or basil, which go really well with lemon.
This Rum Raisins Cookies Recipe comes from Romania. The cookies are flavored with rum, are very easy to make and taste delicious. Serve them next to a cup of your favorite tea, or coffee and enjoy an old recipe that is very traditional in Romania.
Chocolate Cookies with Earl Grey Ganache, are delicate cookies, perfect for holidays. The bergamot from the Earl Grey brings elegance to the scene.
Beautiful Linseed Cinnamon Cookies– the linseeds(or the flaxseeds) give these soft cookies a nice texture, while the cinnamon brings a subtle flavor.
The Best Chocolate Chip And Walnuts Cookies recipe out there! This might be a keeper for some of you if you like soft cookies inside and crunchy outside.
Polvorones are traditional Spanish crumbly cookies made around Christmas time. The cookies can be flavored with cocoa, lemon, cinnamon etc. This is the recipe for polvorones with lemon or Polvorones con limon- the Spanish name. Make a great gift for your family and friends!
Jam Crescent Pastries(Cornulete cu gem)– is an old Eastern European popular recipe for crescent cookies filled with jam, walnuts or Turkish delight.
Banana Walnuts Chocolate Chips Soft Cookies– delicious banana cookies that are soft and chewy. Perfect to snack on or for the lunch box.
Trail Mix Cookies- Vegetarian, Gluten Free Recipe– Cookies made with organic ingredients where the main ingredient is sunflower seed butter. Very easy to make and they do not take more than 30 minutes from start to finish.
Coffee Flavored Sugar Cookies is a recipe that is simple enough to be made any day, but the flavors are elegant, subtle and delicious.
These almond-cranberry shortbread cookies remind us of the holidays. Perfect recipe for potlucks, cookies swap parties and any holiday event.
Jam and walnuts rugelach (cornulete cu gem) are perfect cookies all year around for holidays or potlucks. Easy to make, easy to serve and delicious.
Kossuth Kifli or Half Moon Cookies are delicious cookies from the old days. Very popular in Hungary and also Romania and other Eastern European countries, these cookies have a “cake” texture, are delicate and delicious and good to make them on a Sunday afternoon.
These Pie Crust Mini Turnover Cookies with jam are an easy way to make dessert when you have a sweet tooth. The recipe comes from Transylvania. The pie crust dough is rolled out, cut in small round shapes and filled with your favorite jam. Delicious and easy to make!
And finally DRINKS!
What drinks are good for a picnic? Anything you like: lemonade, iced tea, light beers, light wine, mineral water, coffee or hot cocoa in a thermos if it gets chilly.
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 Summer, everyone!