Plan a Family Picnic this Summer

Saturday is National Picnic Day, so why not plan a day with fresh air, sunshine, good company and a healthy meal. Sounds like fun to me!

Picnics can be done on the fly with no preparation or they can be well thought out in advance. Either way, here are some tips to make your picnic a great one this summer:

Location, Location, Location

There are some things to keep in mind when choosing a location for your picnic. The type of food will determine whether you need a grill at the park if you don’t have your own traveling grill. Here are some other things to consider before choosing your picnic location:

  • Availability of public restrooms
  • Pavilion or shade spots
  • Picnic tables and sitting areas
  • The presence of pesky vermin or insects
  • Water, sand or other surroundings
  • Playground equipment for kids
  • Sports field

Things to Remember

A picnic can be a great event for family and friends to share together. Here are some things to pack to make it a special and stress free day:

  • Charcoal and lighter fluid
  • Matches or lighter
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bug repellent
  • Plates, silverware and napkins
  • Cutlery
  • Trash bags for garbage and cans
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Chairs or blanket
  • Antibacterial wipes (for hands, table, seats, etc.)
  • Baggies for leftover food
  • Bottle or wine opener
  • Glasses or cups
  • Condiments
  • Tablecloth

If kids are a part of your special picnic day, don’t forget to bring:

  • Appropriate toys (water, sand or sports equipment)
  • Change of clothes for accidents and spills
  • Change of clothes for shifting weather
  • Extra pair of shoes and socks

Food for Thought

There are many options for food to bring for a picnic. Making sure food is at the right temperature is important to ward off food borne illnesses. Taking proper precautions in preparing food is also important. Here are some tips and items you want to make sure you have at your next picnic if you are making and bringing your own food.

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing and handling meat.
  • Keep a separate cooler for drinks only.
  • Keep meats at the bottom of the cooler so they won’t drip onto other items.
  • Use a separate plate or dish for raw and cooked meats; do not use the same plate as cross contamination will occur, almost always resulting in a food borne illness.
  • Keep the cooler in the shade and replace ice as needed.
  • If you’re bringing food that is already prepared, like chicken, eat within one hour of arriving.
  • Warming pans with a flame (such as Sterno chafing gel) help to keep hot food at the proper temperature.
  • Bowls of ice to keep pasta, potato salads and cream-based condiments cool. Be sure to use the 2-hour rule: eat perishable foods within this time frame or put them back into the cooler.

Where are your favorite places to take picnics? And please share your picnicking tips with us!

Photo credit: Nanda

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