’Tis the season for picnicking! Are you ready to head outdoors with your family? I have to say, it’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy a meal. It can be just a tad more work up front (just because you have to pack everything), but the really easy part comes in the fact that kids can be messy (because they usually are no matter where they are!), and all you have to do is shake the crumbs off the blanket!
Mixing a simple meal, even something that can seem mundane at home, with a little fresh air and the great outdoors, is a perfect way to have fun together.
Choose your location. It’s best if you at least have an idea of where you’re going to be before you head out the door so you can plan accordingly. Will you be heading to the beach? A couple of towels or blanket might be needed “just in case.” Will you be hiking to your destination? This might mean you need to adjust the type of food carrier you use and pack everything in a backpack. Are you heading somewhere with picnic tables or a grill? This can totally change up a menu or list of items you want to bring. Is a quick trip to the park your idea of a perfect afternoon picnic? A simple lunch and some blankets may just do the trick!
Choose your carrier. We love using this Built New York cooler, it’s SO easy to tote around, holds everything we need and really does keep things cold. Just know that whatever you choose to use will probably get a little heavy once it’s all filled, which is why I prefer one carrier so that my husband can easily lug it around for us! 😉 You could also use a cart or wagon if you know you’re not going to be walking on rough terrane and can just pull everything along with you without much effort… and it also means you can bring some extras like chairs, umbrellas or other options depending on your group.
Now it comes down to the food! My idea of packing a picnic with my family is totally different than when meeting up in the park for a potluck or spending a romantic dinner under the stars. For a lunch date with my kiddos, keeping foods simple and serving a spread that doesn’t need plates or utensils is my priority. This means I stick to easy foods like sandwiches that can be wrapped, simple dips, Ferris nuts and dried fruits snacks they love and bottled drinks. When we arrive at our destination and are ready to eat, we spread it all out on the blankets and eat up, family style.
A couple of Progressive sandwich boxes hold lots of snacks for all of my little ones and makes it easy to pack up all of our finger foods.
If you want to make a REALLY simple hummus to take with you (a great dip for veggies, pita bread, chips and more), we’ve got a recipe with just 5 ingredients and takes only 5 minutes!
- 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
- 2 to 4 tbsp. ice cold water
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
- Add the garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of water, the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. If needed, add additional water to thin out the hummus and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to your taste preference.
- Store covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to go.
For drinks, I prefer to use bottled beverages like water, lemonade, and drinks for the kids. This way, no cups are needed and everyone has their own!
Let them play. The beauty of eating outdoors is that there is so much opportunity to explore and embrace the world around us. Usually the location of your picnic will determine what kind of activities there are, but it never hurts to slip some bubbles for the kids to play with or a book into your bag as well. Then? Just enjoy it all. Your wee ones are going to want to run around, they’ll want to dine and dash, and then probably dine again. Let them enjoy it. In turn, you’ll all enjoy your time together outside.