How To Pack The Perfect Picnic
By Miranda Hammer, MS, RD, CDN
Founder of crunchyradish.com
Warm temps and sunshine are the perfect excuses to eat outdoors and enjoy nature in all of its glory. Food seems to taste better when eaten in a beautiful setting, but before you pack up your picnic basket and blanket, here are a few essential tips to keep in mind.
Picnics are typically loungy, leisurely affairs, so make sure you pack your basket with nutritious and simple food that will keep you happily nourished as you enjoy the outdoors. Various dips made from canned beans served alongside crudités are the ideal snack. Beans are loaded with protein and fiber and keep you energized and satiated. Another way to use canned legumes is in a salad. Mix lentils, chickpeas, or black beans or a combo of pulses with fresh peppers, celery, ribboned kale, fresh herbs, olive oil, and vinegar. You will have a simple and satisfying bean salad full of flavor and nutrition. Incorporating fresh seasonal produce with your canned goods adds vibrancy and balance to whatever you create.
Food safety is key when planning a picnic. Make sure to keep food in a cooler or packed with ice. Avoid bringing dishes made with mayonnaise since those dishes are more prone to spoilage. Instead, opt for mustard or vinegar based salads. On days when the temps hit 90° or above, avoid leaving food out for more than an hour.
When planning your picnic menu, focus on items that are transportable, not messy, and do not require a lot of cutting. Most people can’t wait until dessert! Select a simple recipe that can be made in advance and pre-cut into portions such as a crumble. Consider canned unsweetened peaches mixed with fresh blueberries and plenty of cinnamon with an oat and nut topping as a healthy crowd-pleasing treat.
Hydration is key while soaking up the sun. Depending on the size of your crowd, make one or two flavored waters or unsweetened iced teas to keep everyone’s thirst quenched. Some of my favorite go-to combos are; cucumber-lime or blueberry-basil infused water and iced ginger mint tea or hibiscus lime tea.
The most important tip of all is to enjoy your company and the beautiful outdoors.