Summer means eating outdoors. Don’t wait for the weekend, or spend those extra daylight hours over a stove.
With a little planning, today’s busy families can enjoy relaxing picnic dinners even on weeknights, and get fresh air and exercise at the same time.
Easy Picnic Tips
- Investigate parks and other outdoor sites near you to save driving time and fuel. It’s a win-win situation.
- Next time you’re shopping, check out the deli offerings. Besides an array of sliced meats and cheeses, you’ll find foods to please every palate, including vegetarian.
- Choose a few of your family’s favorites, and then branch out and try marinated olives or mushrooms, bean salads, and antipastos. Pasta or potato salads with vinaigrette (instead of a mayo-based dressing) won’t spoil as quickly, and they may be lower in calories.
- Since foods should be chilled before being packed into coolers with ice or freezer packs, pick up your choices a day ahead and refrigerate overnight.
- The bakery section of the store offers whole-grain breads and rolls for sandwich-making or to enjoy with salads. Also select artisan breads, just waiting for freshly chopped tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil.
- Add fresh, seasonal fruits from the produce department.
- When you shop, think convenience. Smaller watermelons need only a wash before you leave the house. No cutting beforehand means no mess in the cooler.
- Don’t forget to pack some healthy beverages. Choose 100 percent organic juices or almond, rice, or soymilk in individual, shelf-stable packages.
- For a quick and easy getaway, prepack a picnic basket with plates and utensils, a sharp knife and cutting board, bottle opener, moist towelettes, napkins, and paper towels.
- Add a blanket or tablecloth, along with plenty of bottled water.
- Don’t forget trash bags and any pet supplies you’ll need if your four-legged friends join you.
- Remember to pack natural insect repellent and sunblock, and put the kids in charge of Frisbees, balls, and other outdoor equipment.