Picnics are one of the rites of summer. Almost everyone has a childhood memory of summer picnics and the foods they would munch on throughout the day. A perfect picnic is not only a feast but a special event planned with love and an attention to detail. Whether it’s a birthday party picnic or a simple summer lunch, here are some tips to help prepare the perfect family picnic.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE PERFECT FAMILY PICNIC
Pick the Perfect Spot
The perfect picnic needs the perfect spot. A flat space in the shade is ideal — whether you bring the shade or it comes in the form of a tree. Bring a blanket or heavy tablecloth, and try to stick to grass while keeping an eye out for ant hills.
Perfect Picnic Locations
There’s no easier or better spot for a picnic with kids than your own backyard or neighbourhood park. If you’re looking to venture further afoot, we’ve compiled lists of the best parks and picnic spots in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa.
Perfect Picnic Planning
It is very important to have a plan so you don’t forget anything important. Once you have decided on the location consider what kind of park it is and where you will be eating. Is it a beach? Will there be picnic tables? Do you have to trek a ways to find a picnic spot? All of these details will impact what you need to set things up comfortably.
Consider protection from the sun and wind for the beach so you don’t get sand in your food. Bring some blankets and pillows for lazing and for full day events consider bringing some foldable chairs so people have a choice of seating. If it is a family affair and elderly people will be attending lawn chairs are a must even if you are only planning to be at the park for a few hours.
If there are picnic tables, bring a tablecloth and (for a more sophisticated event) bring table linens.
Consider if it is just a short walk to the picnic table or closest tree or if you will have to walk around the park to find a good place to settle. If you are going to be walking be practical and use a cooler on wheels and knapsacks to transport the food and drink easily.
See below for a checklist to help you be totally prepared.
Family Picnic Menu Ideas
Ploughman’s’ Lunch/Antipasto: This is a traditional way to enjoy a picnic bringing along a selection of cured meats, breads, cheeses, pickles, marinated veggies, sausage rolls, hard boiled eggs, etc. This allows people to leisurely nibble on food as they wish with a wide assortment of choices. This is very easy to prepare and share.
Bite Sized Food: Think of bite sized items such as mini sandwiches and flavourful pinwheel wraps. Mini cold hors d’oeuvres such as quiches, sausage rolls, devilled eggs and assorted olives and cheeses also work well.
Traditional Picnic: The retro “church” picnic is a lot of work but well worth it. Cold fried chicken and ham, potato salad, cole slaw, devilled eggs, summer fresh sliced tomatoes, pickled beets, watermelon – yum. If you’re going with sandwiches, you want to pack ones that won’t go soggy.
Super Salads: Salads are always a hit at picnics and you can focus on having an assortment of substantial salads such as curried chicken salad, Soba noodle salad with shrimp and snow peas with a sesame ginger dressing, pasta salad with mini bocconcini cheese balls, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette, Santa Fe Salad with black beans, cherry tomatoes and roasted corn with a cilantro lime vinaigrette, lemon tabouli with shrimp – you get the picture.
Prepare an assortment of fresh seasonal fruits, homemade cookies and bars, or cupcakes for dessert. Last but not least ensure food is properly stored in a cooler and stock the cooler with an assortment of gourmet bottled sodas, sparkling water and juice boxes so you don’t need to worry about cups.
THE FAMILY PICNIC PERFECTION CHECKLIST:
Here’s what you need for a hassle-free picnic:
- Extra re-sealable plastic bags, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap for leftovers
- Containers with lids to avoid leaks from salads
- Baby wipes to wash hands
- Garbage bags for clean up
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitizer
- Condiments based on what you are serving
- Extra napkins or paper towels
- Matches and candles if it is a birthday
- Bandages and antibacterial ointment
- Trays to set drinks on to avoid tips and spills
- Cutting board and knives depending on what you are serving
- Bottle opener for gourmet sodas
- Tablecloth with clips or weights
- Pop-up shade tent or travel beach umbrella
- Light-weight metal or disposable flatware
- Plenty of drinks and water