Picnics are always one of my favourite ways to eat. I love being out in the open air.
For some reason food always seems to taste better outside and if you are walking some distance before your picnic, you can build up a real appetite.
I think part of eating alfresco is in the freedom that it presents, you can eat different food and choose your own spot, whether in the local park or at the top of a cliff!
From choosing food to having the right things with you, I hope these suggestions are helpful in planning your perfect picnic.
Packing for Your Picnic
I always run through this in my head, even a very informal picnic - it’s the usual who, what, where and why questions.
Who is attending and do they have any allergies or special food requirements?
What are you going to take with you to make sure that everyone has enough to eat?
Where are you planning on having your picnic, if you plan to walk several miles first, go simple and lightweight!
Why are you having your picnic – birthday, special occasion or just part of your regular walk – do you need anything special to mark the occasion?
Food, Glorious Food (and Drink)
Here are the basics which I usually take with me for lunch.
- Sandwiches and/or crispbread and filling
- Salad or a pasty or quiche/frittata
- Nuts, raisins, crunchy veg sticks or crisps for snacks
- Something sweet which holds together like brownies, flapjack or fruit cake
- Occasionally a cream tea!
- Fruit, often oranges, or apples; rarely bananas or pears because they can bruise
- Herbal Tea.
Choose to Reuse
Where possible, try and avoid single use plastic. If you buy a load of pre-packaged food, you’ve got the hassle of carrying your rubbish home. If you can, make food at home and put it in reusable boxes or bags.
Our bread bags are great for rolls, bread or try one of our new baguette bags. All our linen bread bags let homemade or artisan bread breathe, which keeps the crust crispy, without letting the bread dry out inside. Our bread bags can also be rolled down and used as a basket for sweet or savoury rolls – neat, I think!
If you’re carrying hummus or salad, our handy set of reusable multi-sized bowl covers are good for keeping food covered while you are transporting it around. You could make some hummus, using this wonderful recipe from my daughter Phoebe, we all love it!
Phoebe’s Yummy Hummus Recipe – click here
If you’re just keeping it simple with sandwiches, our individual sandwich wraps are brilliant for keeping the sandwich together and fresh. It also means that you won’t over cater, a sandwich for each person is usually enough.
We have sandwich wraps in lots of different colours at home, so that I know which one belongs to each person. It helps to make sure that the person who doesn't want onion in their sandwich doesn’t get it.
For nuts and raisins or individual portions of chopped vegetables or bits of quiche, try our snack bags.
These dinky bags are a great eco-conscious alternative to single use plastic since they are made from pure linen and have a waterproof lining. And they are wipeable inside or washable if things get mucky.
I love this recipe from the BBC Good Food team.
- Heat oven to 220 degrees C, then put an empty muffin tin inside to heat up.
- Coarsely grate 1 large or 2 small courgettes and slice 4 spring onions
- Head 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the spring onions for about 3 mins
- Stir in 1 crushed garlic clove and the grated courgette and cook for another minute, set aside to cool.
- Beat 3 large eggs in a jug with a good pinch of dill or other soft green herb and 4tbsp of Greek Yoghurt, season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the fried courgette mix.
- Take the muffin tin out of the oven. Divide the mixture between eight muffin cases and bake for 15-18 mins until set and golden.
Try Salad in a Wide Necked Jar
This is great for transporting salad and perfect if you have gluten free picnickers, since lots of picnic food tends to be wheat based. Put the dressing in first, add something that needs marinating like feta, tofu or chick peas and then fill up with more delicate ingredients with leaves and salad at the top. Voila - salad on the move.
Wrap Up Your Cutlery
If you are glam picnicking, a great way to carry cutlery is to wrap it in a lovely linen napkin and tie it up with a bit of ribbon. It avoids losing the cutlery and protects you from any sharp edges while you are carrying it.
Don't Forget the Drink
Thermos and drinking bottles are essential in our household and now that you can buy unbreakable versions, it’s all to the good.
The great thing about thermal drinking bottles is that they can keep your drinks cold as well as hot (add flavoured ice cubes?) and if you have individual bottles, each person can carry their own and you can cut down on carrying cups.
Something to Sit On?
This could be a dedicated picnic blanket or just a waterproof coat so that you stay dry while you are eating. Thanks to fellow Cornish company Atlantic Blankets for this wonderful image - they have a great range of British made blankets, including dedicated picnic blankets to choose from!
Whatever your plans as the weather brightens, I hope you have found these ideas helpful for your next picnic. I am so looking forward to the summer, writing this has made me think that I really must plan another picnic soon!
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