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By Laura Matney

Perfect picnic tips

The tree buds are popping out and the spring daffodils are peeking out after a long winter nap. It is almost picnic season and time to drag the picnic basket out of storage. Before dusting it off and filling it up, remember that planning for more than food will help make that summer picnic a success. Below are some tips that will help make sure everyone has what they need.

Location, location, location
Choose the location first. Knowing where the picnic will be helps with food selection. Remember to find out in advance what amenities are available at the location. Bathrooms are especially important.

Wet wipes and trash bags
Food and the outdoors can be messy. Bring wet wipes for guests to use on their hands or when a bug lands on their plate, and make sure you have plenty of trash bags to make clean-up easy and efficient.

The more the merrier – pack two containers
Pack two containers — one for plates, napkins, utensils and non-perishable items and the second for items that need to remain chilled.

Enamel plates
Everyone knows that when eating outside, using a plate that won’t break if dropped is essential. Rather than bringing paper plates, which you then throw out, bring plates made of hard plastic or an enamel material, a food-safe porcelain that won’t break. Plates like these are not only sturdy, they won’t get soggy from the food.

Glasses with lids
In addition to non-breakable plates, remember to pack glasses with lids and straws. This will help keep bugs out of drinks.

Pack bags in reverse
Pack items that will be needed last first, so they are at the bottom of the container. Once at the picnic site, items you need first — like tablecloths and plates — will be easily accessed.

Save condiment packets now
When ordering out, save those extra condiment packets to take on picnics.

Remember to not overpack
Packing everything but the kitchen sink may seem like a good way to ensure nothing gets left behind, but remember that everything packed has to be carried by someone. Pack much more than you need and it might be a very long, heavy walk indeed.

Bring something healthy
Not everyone enjoys the sides made with mayonnaise. Bringing something healthier will help guests make satisfying choices. Try some chopped-up vegetables and a tub of hummus for an easy and healthy option.

Bring something sweet too
Bake some brownies or some portable cakes to share with guests. Not a baker? Swing by a bakery on the way and pick something out.

Homemade is special
If there is time, rather than picking up food at the store, make some of it at home. Homemade food is a special treat in a busier and busier world and usually tastes better than food picked up from the store. Below are three recipes to help get the picnic started.

Mr. Food’s Captain’s Coleslaw

Jamie Oliver’s Blackened Chicken

Saveur’s Mixed Berries and Mint with Mint and Berry Shrub

Picnics are a fun way to spend time with friends and family. Planning ahead to make sure everyone has what they need is simple and will make all the difference to everyone there. Follow these tips and enjoy.

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