Pack the Perfect Picnic

Pack the Perfect Picnic

A checklist for eating in the great outdoors!

When summertime lures you into dining al fresco, it helps to have a plan. Whether you’re heading to the beach or out to a local park this checklist will help you pack the perfect picnic.

✓ Food – Safety first! Plan to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Skip mayonnaise-based foods, dairy-based dips, and cheeses altogether if you can’t eat them all within two hours. Once the two hour mark hits, throw away any leftovers to avoid food poisoning. Save yourself some hassle by focusing mostly on finger foods. Sandwiches, chips, fresh fruits (watermelon!) and veggies, and other easy to munch foods simplify clean up by making fewer dishes to clean.

✓ Containers – There’s nothing worse than having your fruit salad escape from its plastic-wrapped bowl. Choose sealable containers to keep leaks like this at bay. Make it super easy to cart everything to your picnic site by putting it all in a cooler. You can also use dish tubs, which can then double as containers for holding beverages or salads on ice.

✓ Plates, napkins, utensils, and cups – While disposable products make clean up a snap, using reusable plates, napkins, utensils, and cups offer a few advantages. Besides the environmental benefits, regular serving stuff also has the added bonus of being heavier and more durable. No more flyaway napkins or drippy paper plates! Still, if you want disposable products, you’ll find them at the Co-op (plus, they are biodegradable and use recycled content).

✓ Serving utensils – Don’t forget large spoons, spatulas, and tongs. Plus, it helps to have a cutting board and sharp knife. And last, but certainly not least, pack a corkscrew and bottle opener.

Cleanup – Remember to bring garbage bags, hand wipes, and paper towels (or a regular dish towel).

✓ Condiments and seasoning – If you will be cooking up some meat, don’t forget the ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and relish. Just remember to keep the mayo on ice. Grab salt and pepper to allow people to season their food to their liking.

✓ Ice – You’ll need it to keep your cold foods in the safe zone. If you want to avoid the watery, melting mess of cubes, use ice packs instead. Bonus? They’re reusable.

✓ Tablecloth or blanket – Sure, you could forgo it, but a colorful tablecloth brings a cheery note to the table and provides a uniform surface to catch any mess. If you’re dining on the grass or sand, a blanket offers a cushy place to sit.

✓ Basket – If you want to keep it traditional (and you’re picnic is on the smaller side), you can pack all you need in a basket. The Co-op has fair trade African baskets that not only contain all your stuff, but look good, too.