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Planning the Perfect Picnic

April 16, 2021

Some food, the great outdoors and perhaps a blanket to sit on is really all you need for a picnic.

But why not make the outing one for the memory books?

Right now, we’re all about picnics! Stop by The Palm information center Saturdays in April to pick up a Life is a Picnic bag, picnic blanket and a few tasty picnic goodies to get you started on picnic perfection. And then follow these tips.

Location, Location Location!

You can have fun anywhere but try to find a spot that has both sun and shade. The shade will be helpful in keeping cool items cool and if you’re picnicking during the summer (especially in Southeast Texas) you’ll probably prefer the shade. Also look for a grassy area to play games or maybe picnic by the lake. Woodforest residents are lucky, with plenty of park space perfect for a picnic.

How/What to Pack

Think about packing both a cooler and a picnic basket for tableware and non-perishable items. Pack the basket in reverse order so you can get the tablecloth out first, followed by serving items and plates and finally your non-perishable food. You can use throwaway plates and cutlery, but a nice touch is to use melamine plates and glasses in festive patterns and colors.

Your cooler should contain about 25 percent ice. Try to use chunks of ice or ice packs, which will keep chilled food cold longer. (Helpful tip — fill up used milk cartons or water bottles and freeze.)

Of course, you’re going to bring food (we’ll get to that next), but you also might want to consider wipes for sticky fingers, sunscreen and bug spray. Also pack trash bags — not just for your actual trash, but you can also store dirty dishes in them so your basket and/or cooler doesn’t get dirty.

The Menu

When it comes to the menu, you can be as relaxed or ambitious as you want. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time outside by packing some sandwiches, chips and your favorite cookies.

If you don’t mind a little extra effort, however, consider appetizers of deviled eggs placed in cupcake liners to keep them neat. Or bring an array of cheeses, salamis and fresh and dried fruit for a cheese board.

Bring a green salad (with dressing on the side) or pick a heartier salad made with farro, couscous or quinoa like this Summer Grain Salad. If potato salad is a picnic must-have for you but you want to skip the mayo because of the heat, consider a French Potato Salad.

Your hearty salad could be the main course or you could bring some fried chicken (perfectly tasty at room temperature), a sturdy baguette sandwich or something easy to eat with your hands, such as this puff pastry ham, cheese and broccoli hand pie. For dessert, cold watermelon is always refreshing or bring cookies or bars.

Don’t forget to bring lots of water and maybe add lemonade or juice boxes for the little ones. If you bring wine, make sure to pack a corkscrew.

Beyond Eating

Once you arrive at your location, you don’t have to immediately get down to eating. Bring along a softball and catcher’s mitt or a soccer ball and work up an appetite. Go on a nature scavenger hunt. Have a water balloon spoon race or pack some towels for water balloon dodgeball. Ring toss, corn hole and croquet also are good choices. Or, if it’s not too windy, bring cards or a board game to play on your picnic basket.

Plan it right and your family will be begging for a picnic again and again!

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Planning the Perfect Picnic