The Joy of Picnics
The secret of a good picnic is preparation. This can be done far in advance waiting for that perfect moment on that perfect day.
You can pack your picnic bag or basket and leave it in the back of the car, or in a closet near the door so it is always ready for the right opportunity. I have had many lovely impromptu picnics because the picnic bag is always ready, packed with the basics.
There is great joy in eating outside. That’s the beauty of picnics. We tend to look at the view around us and watch other people while we are together sharing a meal. Somehow it is quite intimate, informal and fun. Ordinary food tastes better.
If the weather is hot, it is wonderful to find a large tree with shade in a quiet spot where you can pause and enjoy your lunch or afternoon tea. If it is winter and you can find a sheltered place by a lovely view and maybe have something hot to revive the spirits. It’s all about attitude. It is fun to put on your puffer jacket and warm boots, and sit at the picnic table on a folded blanket with another wrapped around you. Maybe you can even have a small candle on the table.
Most activities take on a positive spin if you have the right equipment. This is true whether it be sport, or a hobby like gardening or painting, and is also true of picnics.
Here are my suggestions for a successful picnic:
- Have a fold away table and chairs with easy access for when you need them
- Have a picnic rug with a waterproof underside and a top side that isn’t fluffy. Some picnic rugs have a soft outer later and little twigs, grass seeds and sand can get trapped in the ‘furriness’ of the fabric. A top layer that is cotton or smooth is so much easier. Some rugs have padding which is a nice added comfort.
- Have a nice table-cloth or two in bright cheerful colors. I find 1 meter square (about 1 yard square) is enough.
- Paper serviettes or cloth napkins (bright patterns suit the outdoor experience)
- Wet wipes
- Several plastic rubbish bags, maybe on a roll
- Plates and cutlery (may be disposable)
- Picnic glasses and cups (ditto)
- Salt and pepper in sealed containers
- A small chopping board or two
- A small sharp knife or two
- A bottle opener and or pocket knife multitool
- Insect repellent
In summer I always have beach towels in my car as well as a beach umbrella and both these are useful. In winter it helps to have a couple of small rugs and warm coats.
What kind of food should you keep in your picnic bag?
- Crackers and rye or pumpernickel bread (sealed) (These can keep for a long time.)
- Cheese spread in a jar
- Small cans of food like olives, salmon, pickles, dolmades, sun dried tomatoes
- Individually sealed packets of dried fruit
- Potato or vegetable crisps
- Bottled water
Keep a look out in the store for small canned or sealed items of food and note their Use By or Best Before dates. For canned food, try and find cans that have a pull opening, rather than needing an can opener.
The drinks will vary depending upon what you prefer. If you like to have a hot cup of tea or coffee you may wish to carry a thermos of hot water. Then, you would want to pack your favorite drinks including small containers of milk and sugar if needed. Of if it is winter you may want some dehydrated soup sachets. There’s nothing so warming as a cup of hot soup on a chilly day.
These are the basics. So when leaving for your picnic, you can grab your bag and then look at what you may have in your fridge to supplement. Most picnic bags will have an insulated area that help to keep food and drinks cold.
Once you get into the picnic mindset, keep an eye out at the supermarket or health store and see what products you can add, ensuring that they will keep for a while. If you haven’t used your picnic basket for a few months, it may pay to check the use by dates on the products.
After a picnic, I put all the dirty dishes in a rubbish bag separate from the food. That way it is easy to sort later. Once home, I put the dirty dishes straight into the wash, unpack the opened items of food to store in the fridge to use or discard any leftovers. Repacking the bag again is done as soon as possible and it is stowed away back in my car, ready for the next opportunity or adventure.
It is the simple pleasures of life that make our days worthwhile.