Let’s pack a picnic
Something I love to do in the warm and (hopefully) sunny summer months is to go for a family picnic somewhere pretty. The great thing about picnicking is that you don’t even have to go far, a short trip to your local park, a wander into the woods or even just pitching a picnic blanket out on your own garden lawn, food is always more fun al fresco.
This year though, I’m determined to ramp up my picnicking skills to maximum sophistication levels, inspired by a beautiful wicker picnic hamper I came across in a local boutique. Historically my picnic catering has been a bit slap dash - shop bought tuna sandwiches and a tube of pringles shoved into my backpack kind of vibes… but this picnic hamper is going to change everything!
It has leather buckled straps, a curved handle for ease of transportation, real cutlery, porcelain plates and wine glasses! I mean, this is a hamper worthy of the Downton Abbey family, and I could envisage myself wearing a floaty floral dress serving up trifle and champagne at the edge of a babbling brook. It’s just a shame that I’m a mere pleb without any servants to do the hard work, like preparing the food or carrying it there. Poor me.
So, if you’re going for anything more than a leisurely walk, it’s smart to take a very light picnic. Ideally, you’ll want something like a bag of quavers and a brioche bun because dragging a ciabatta loaf, a cold meat platter and a selection of cheeses and chutneys more than half a mile isn’t ideal.
But if you’ve a superb spot in mind that’s just a stroll away, follow my picnicking tips for stress free and fabulous outdoor feasting for the whole family.
- Freeze bottles of water
I use my Wodar tap, which not only gives me boiling hot water on demand but also fresh cold filtered water to fill reusable plastic bottles which I then pop in the freezer. These provide lovely cold refreshment as the water melts and act as ice packs to keep your picnic cool.
- Sanitation station
Prepare a Tupperware box or zip lock sandwich bag with a wet soapy flannel or take some antibacterial wet wipes or hand sanitiser so you can all clean your fingers before getting stuck into the food. I find this especially useful when out walking with my children as they are guaranteed to get grubby hands from playing with sticks and picking up snails.
- Jam jar veggie dips
Clean and sanitise any old jam or Mason jars with boiling hot water (my Wodar tap coming in use again!) then fill the bottom with your favourite dip, such as houmous, and then chop carrots, celery, cucumber, or any other vegetables you like into batons to stick into the dip, then put the lid on ready to go.
- Hot hotdogs
This genius hot dog hack is sure to thrill your fellow picnickers and provide a delicious warm snack without a BBQ in sight. Grab some precooked hotdogs put them in a thermos and then top up with boiling water, ensuring the sausages are fully submerged. When you’re ready to eat simply scoop out a hotdog and pop in a sliced bun with a good squirt of ketchup. Optional extra to bask in the glory of your cleverness.
- Keep bugs at bay
To deter pesky insects from invading your picnic fill an empty spray bottle with cold filtered water and add a few drops of peppermint essential oils and mist around your picnic rug when you roll it out. Apparently, bugs aren’t keen on the smell of mint so it should keep them away.
You could also use any spare plastic shower caps you have kept from hotel visits to cover your bowls of food and stop any unwanted guests from landing on your delicious meal.
- Bag it up
Don’t forget to take a small bin bag with you to clear up after yourselves because nobody likes a litter bug!