Ah, summer – I’m so glad you’re here! Nothing says summer fun like an outdoor concert in the park with a picnic dinner and when summer arrives, I like to be ready for simple dining outside. Having a picnic routine is helpful – it takes the guess work out of organizing a meal on the go and makes dining away from home easy. Here are my tips for packing a picnic dinner and embracing dining outdoors.
How to Pack for a Picnic Dinner
- All dressed up: My favorite type of food to serve for a picnic is a main dish salad. (Try this recipe for a hearty quinoa salad.) Already dressed and refrigerated all day, I don’t worry about it getting warm if we have a walk and are eating within an hour or so. (Need more summer recipe ideas? Check here.)
- Mother-nature packaging: Fruit and veggie sticks make for easy appetizers and side dishes. Grapes, cherries, and carrot sticks are my go-to picnic foods. I like to buy a 10-pound bag of carrots, prep them for munching and save on the packaging – and money. (Tips for skipping the bag of baby carrots are here.)
- No throw away: Just like the camp cooking supply container, packing for a picnic is no different. Metal plates, cloth napkins, stainless utensils and cups for drinking mean we’re keeping our picnic green. If buying new plates, opt for smaller size. Seconds are easy to serve but large plates take up more room and are heavier.
- Get carried away: Walking to and from our neighborhood park for picnics, we keep our vessels easy to carry by not over packing. Backpacks are good options and baskets that can be carried by two people make it easy for kids to help.
- Pack it in, pack it out: Don’t forget to bring a bag for dirty dishes and utensils. It’s easier to put plates in cups in a bag for transporting home rather than sticking them back in a pretty basket. Grab a bag for garbage, too. Garbage and recycling cans quickly get overfilled at parks and trail heads and we try not to add to the mess.
- Bring a treat: Don’t have ‘dessert’ envy like I did last summer when a neighbor showed up at a park concert with a hot-from-the-oven peach pie. Bring homemade cookies or a bag of potato chips – if you like savory. These also make a long hike or walk easier to take for kids! (Try these peanut-butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies.) Sometimes hiking is better with a handful of granola, too, since it’s easy to grab.
- It’s in the cards: Don’t forget a deck of cards or a small game. If you have to wait for a concert to begin or darkness to arrive for an outdoor movie, picnicking can be more fun with a deck of cards. Easy games appeal to kids of all ages – or kids at heart.
- Don’t forget flowers: Weeds or flowers? It’s hard to tell. Grab a bunch on a walk or hike and hold onto an empty drink container and you’ve got an impromptu vase for flowers. Kids love to have the assignment of picking flowers along the way.
- Don’t spill the wine: Having a bottle of wine with dinner? Don’t spill it. (Follow these tips for never spilling your wine again.)
Here’s what I can’t wait to try on our next camping trip Earthbound Farm’s newest product – PowerMeal Bowls! I crave a salad when camping and these might be just the ticket. They’re all inclusive greens, crunch, and dressing. Cross your fingers that I can land a fish and serve it next to one of these!
If you need more recipes for grab and go – my kids like to eat while hiking and on the go – try one of these healthy summer snacking ideas from Organic Bound. They’ve rounded up some of my favorite healthy food bloggers and their go-to snacks for portable dining!
Whether it’s a picnic dinner or lunch, with a little planning, dining outside is easy and enjoyable. Pack a gingham tablecloth, too. You knew I was going to say that, right?
What’s your favorite dish to bring on a picnic?
Go Gingham related links:
Grilled vegetables – on the grill – great for summer
The tangiest, yummiest BBQ sauce ever!
Egg salad sandwiches – you’ll wish you had chickens
Shrimp and quinoa salad – a summer favorite
How to roast red peppers or food you’re supposed to burn
More related links:
Looking for more salad recipes and outdoor eating ideas? Check Organic Bound for inspiration – portable, packable, and healthy.
Live in Portland and looking for a fun + free event to attend this summer? Check Portland Parks & Recreation – Summer Free for All – there’s something for everyone – in every neighborhood.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Earthbound Farm Organic. Thank you for supporting brands that help support Go Gingham. Sign up for Earthbound Farm’s “Organic Bound” – an online community of happier, healthier living filled with ideas + recipes + coupons. This is being disclosed in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines.