Pack the Perfect Picnic

There are few better summer pleasures than a meal outdoors with family and friends. Here are tips for packing a picnic that’s festive, fun and fuss free.

Food
You can’t go wrong with traditional picnic fare (fried chicken, potato salad and coleslaw), but picnics are also a chance to eat fun foods, like salad in a cup, dessert in a jar and fruit on a stick.

Packability
Remember that whatever you carry to your picnic site, you have to carry out. That said, you have only what you take! Try to strike a balance between overpacking and forgetting things like napkins, a knife and extra water. And think beyond the picnic basket: Totes work well for lighter items like chips and paper towels. Use a backpack for extra utensils and insulated bags for perishables. Whatever you pack your picnic in, be sure to use sturdy containers for foods (usually not the ones they come in) to avoid leaks and spills.

Handy Extras
You’ll need a few small plastic bags for things like the cheese that was opened but not finished, as well as larger bags for dirty utensils (no need to buy and then throw away plastic ones). For sticky hands, consider wet naps or a jug of water you can leave in the car.

Presentation
You don’t have to buy a new tablecloth and matching napkins to have a fabulous picnic. Keep it casual and cute by mixing drugstore finds with things you already have. A great way to get kids excited about the outing is to have them create a tablecloth by using stamps, fabric markers, or paint on a drop cloth or old bed sheet.

Keep It Cool
For best preservation of chilled foods, place ice packs on top. You can also use bottles you’ve filled with water and frozen, which provide an extra supply of cold water as it melts. By packing the foods you’ll want first on top and dessert on the bottom, you reduce the time your cooler is open and conserve more of the chill.

And in the case of a summer shower, don’t let rain ruin your picnic plans. Invite over your clan, spread it all out on the living room floor, and enjoy your friends and family anyway!