The turn of the seasons into fall is looming. And while the weather most likely will continue to be hot for weeks to come, I’ll go out on a limb and say it won’t be as hot, making this time of year ideal for a picnic.
The kind of picnicking I refer to is not the kind where you go to a park with food and sit at a picnic table while your kids run to the closest playground. Though I will call it an easier way to picnic.
I’m talking about the blanket on the ground, careful packing and planning of foods and flicking-ants-off-your-leg kind of picnicking.
There’s a few things I love about picnicking. The first is planning what foods to take because it allows for creativity with the simplest of dishes. The second is the accessories, like the basket, blanket and pillows. Lastly, I enjoy the closeness sitting on the ground and sharing a meal with another person can bring.
Choosing what food to bring comes down to what travels well. Something that involves a lot of sauce may get soggy, and foods that need cutting will require you to bring extra boards and knives. The best foods are going to be handheld, like sandwiches.
Instead of using deli meat with sliced bread and storing it in a plastic baggy, make your own hoagies. Fill the sub with meats, veggies and cheeses, but wait to put on condiments until it’s time to eat. Wrap the sandwich in parchment paper when packing it in your basket or bag.
Chips are an easy side, but a salad can be just as simple. If it’s a small group picnicking, I like using mason jars for storing food, and they work great for salads. Toss in the salad ingredients but not the dressing. When you’re ready to eat the salad, pour in dressing, close the lid and shake the jar.
While napkins should always be part of a picnic, you don’t want to have sticky hands that even a napkin can’t make better. So, if you bring fruits, try to stay away from ones that are messy, like watermelon. Grapes, strawberries, blueberries and any smaller fruits are more worry-free. Of course, you can also make fruit kabobs beforehand to make fruit eating even easier.
For dessert, cookies are the best to travel with. Mason jars can also be used for more complex desserts, like homemade pudding.
If mason jars are going to be used for food storage, I’d recommend only using them for one or two things because they tend to be the heavier choice. For the rest of the storage and utensil options, I’d suggest using lightweight or throwaway items.
Not everyone is going to have a picnic basket, but a tote bag or even a cardboard box will work just as well. If the menu includes items that need to be kept cool, bring those in an insulated bag or ice chest.
Even when the ground is dry, a picnic blanket is a must. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It can be an old blanket or a sheet. Pillows on the other hand are up to you.
There’s really no wrong park to choose for your picnicking. It all depends on preference. Most of the parks in the area are going to have playgrounds and then some open space. This is perfect for picnicking with kids. If you’re looking for something more open and a space not so close to a playground, you’ll have to travel a little outside of the area to places like Memorial Park and Hermann Park.
My favorite time to picnic is in the afternoon, when the sun is still out, but not blazing. As I sit back on my blanket, munching on the goodies I brought in the basket, I enjoy watching the sun begin to set, which creates colors in the sky that serve as a perfect backdrop for any picnic.