Friday, May 15, 2015

Finding the Perfect Place to Eat: Take a Picnic

We enjoy our meals when the food, service and setting are good.  A clean dining space and attractive eating area--the environment--entices us to eat and enjoy.  It's hard to imagine a dining space that's more inviting than a scenic picnic area!

Last year my husband and I started a tradition of taking weekly picnics to nearby scenic areas.  He plans the destination.  I am in charge of the food.  I make the food on Saturday for the picnic on Sunday.  That means the picnic day is work free and ever so enjoyable.  Like at home, our meals include lots of vegetables and fruit, with lean protein and whole grains.

Keep Cold Foods Cold

Protein foods (meats, eggs and dairy) and cut melons are hazardous and must be kept cold. Here are my tips:
  • Pack foods in insulated containers with ice packs.
  • When preparing, chill foods quickly in shallow containers.  Glass and metal chill quicker than plastic.
  • Pack the cold plate ingredients separately and arrange the plates at the table.
  • Slice meats thinly after preparation and pack in zipper bags.  Store directly between ice packs.
  • Freeze individual parfaits for an hour before leaving on the outing.
  • Pack fruits crisp and parfaits in shallow mason jars. 

Keep Hot Foods Hot

In the cooler months, we add soup to our menu.  I make the soup the day before and chill quickly in shallow containers.  
  • Preheat the thermos with boiling water.
  • Heat the soup to a simmer.  Empty the thermos and add the soup.
We always take a thermos of coffee to enjoy after our meal.  The coffee thermos is preheated with boiling water prior to adding the fresh brewed coffee.

We only pack what we plan to eat so there are no leftovers!

Time and Setting

There are many state and local parks and wildlife restoration areas within a 100 mile radius of our home.  
  • Consume the food within two hours after packing.
  • Pack hand sanitizers and replenish frequently.
  • Cover the eating area with a cloth prior to set up.
Part of the fun to me is setting the table with cloth napkins, cutlery and small plates.  Many parks have running water where I can rinse the dishes after eating, then wash when I get home. We pick a flower from our yard and take a mini bottle for a centerpiece.

To view our picnics, menus and recipes, refer to the index on the left side of my blog:


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