The weather can only get better from here, and — with outdoor socialising very much the theme of summer 2021 — we’re planning picnics a-plenty. If you’ve also got your eye on a lazy day in the sunshine, a gingham blanket and a basket full of tasty treats, read on to make sure your picnic is your best yet…
1. Pack thoughtfully.
Nobody wants dressing all over the picnic blanket. Make sure lids are sealed, containers are closed and everything is properly wrapped. Pack baskets, bags and/or coolers in reverse order to make it easy to get at the items you need when you first arrive. Place heavier food and serving items on the bottom, followed by squashable foods, and finish with the picnic blanket on top.
2. Pack food safely.
Use a cooler box or bag to make sure your food stays chilled, and include ice packs if possible. Be especially cautious around dishes containing meat or fish. Don’t use your cooler to try and chill warm or room temperature items — always transfer foods directly from the fridge to the cooler.
3. Be organised
Prepare as much as possible at home to avoid on-site assembly. Picnics are more fun when all you have to do is open the cooler and eat! Opt for easy-to-eat portable foods, such as individual hand pies, ready-to-eat sandwiches or wraps, Scotch eggs, skewered meats or layered Kilner jar salads.
4. Avoid food waste.
Be mindful of how much food your group is really likely to eat, and avoid over-catering. Unless they can be kept very cold or very hot until you get home, leftover perishable items will need to be thrown away.
5. Take the Irish weather into account!
Suncream is a must, but you may want to consider umbrellas, too, just in case. If it’s been raining in the last few days, put a plastic sheet under your picnic blanket. No soggy bottoms here!
A sneaky bottle of Prosecco is a fun addition to any grown-up picnic, but remember that this will dehydrate you further. Pack plenty of water for your day in the sun. Frozen bottles of water or other liquids are great for keeping food cool, and they’ll also provide a refreshing drink once they’ve melted. You might also like to pack ice cubes in a Thermos flask so you can add them to your drinks as needed.
7. Consider the extras.
Relevant cutlery, cups, napkins, wet wipes, condiments and bin bags for cleaning up are all picnic essentials. Depending on what foods you’re bringing, a light chopping board and a carefully-packed sharp knife may come in handy. A muffin tin can come in handy for holding drinks while you’re sitting on uneven grass… and don’t forget a bottle opener!
8. Master the salad.
Steer clear of delicate, leafy salads as they’re prone to wilt. Opt instead for more robust salads or slaws, which will improve over time. To avoid soggy salads, pack dressings in separate jars or pots, then simply shake and add at the last minute.
9. Follow the rules.
Restrictions around the use of portable barbecues are there for good reason. Don’t be that idiot who ignores them and starts a forest fire! Likewise, avoid candles, lighters and any other fire risk, especially during the dry summer months. Pay attention to rules around where it’s suitable to picnic, and — of course — observe social distancing where appropriate.
10. Respect the environment
Always, ALWAYS bring every last bit of your rubbish home. Bring two bin bags, one for recyclables and one for general waste.
What’s your favourite al fresco fare? Let us know by tagging us in your picnic creations on social media — we love to see what you’re cooking!