The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and that gingham blanket that’s been sitting in the back of the closet all winter is ready to make its much-anticipated return. That means it’s time for a picnic!
A picnic can be as simple or sophisticated as any other meal. Before you plan the menu and make your lists, think about who’s coming, and what vibe you’re going for. No matter what kind of picnic you’re creating, unless you are in your backyard you’ll need to be as prepared as a Boy Scout, with a full-on checklist. Napkins and wine openers don’t grow on trees, after all!
How to Plan the Perfect Picnic
Plan the Menu
Choose dishes that travel well, can be made mostly in advance, are served at room temperature, and don’t involve lots of sauces or other ingredients that will make the fare soggy. Avoid foods that require cutting; opt for those that need only a fork — or better yet, can be held in hand.
Keep it Simple
Indoors or out, there is never anything wrong with a great cheese board, with sliced bread or crackers and maybe some olives, fruit jams, nuts, and dried fruit. Dips and an assortment of cut-up vegetables for dunking are also an easy way to kick off a picnic spread.
While a picnic basket is always a great idea, don’t forget a cooler!
Even if you have an adorable picnic basket, it’s a good idea to have one container (or more if needed) that will keep things consistently chilled, preferably insulated, with the addition of some frozen ice packs.
The Perfect Spot!
Try to find a spot in the shade, at least enough shade to keep the cooler in so the items inside stay colder longer.
Bring a tablecloth or picnic blanket
Even if picnic tables are around, it’s a good idea to have a tablecloth in case the table is too worn or dirty, or lay the cloth out and have a picnic on the ground.
Dinnerware and Cups
For a smaller group, consider reusables, which are more earth-friendly. For a big crowd, disposable is probably the way to go.
Don’t forget the drinks!
The easiest way to go is with an assortment of drinks, alcoholic or non, in cans or bottles. You could also do a thermos or two of prepared drinks: iced tea, lemonade, a sangria with or without alcohol. Put in plenty of ice to keep it chilled.
If you are thinking of wine, you might want to think boxed or canned wine — if you haven’t tried them in a while, you’ll be very happy to know there are some excellent options on the market these days.
Make a Checklist
Don’t forget to make a checklist a few days in advance — it’s the best way to guarantee you won’t forget anything. What could be worse than preparing and packing a delicious meal, only to realize once you get to your destination that you forgot the plates or forks?
Get a jump start on your menu planning with these simple and delicious recipes made with The Sugarman of Vermont Pure Maple Syrup! These are sure to please any size group. Picnic foods can range from a turkey sandwich to a nutritious salad and then delicious chocolate chip cookies.
Honey Maple Lime Berry Salad
1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed and cut into quarters
Fill a large saucepan about halfway with water. Then, add 1 tsp of salt to the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir and let cook for 10-12 minutes until tender. Follow the instructions on the box and when finished, strain and return the pasta to the pot. Add 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil to it and stir well. Allow the pasta to cool.
Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl and mix them together. Then, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper to the bowl.
Add the pasta to the bowl and mix that in as well.
In a medium-sized bowl, add the dressing ingredients. This consists of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, maple syrup, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Whisk these ingredients well and then add the vinaigrette to the bowl with the pasta and vegetables in it. Mix everything together well.