Warm summer weather attracts picnickers to parks and other beautiful outdoor spots. Selecting foods to take along can be a challenge, as there are several considerations to take into account including food safety, picnic location, and ease of cleanup. Fortunately, cultures all over the world seem to enjoy taking food outdoors during beautiful weather, so most culinary traditions include food which can be easily packed and brought along.
Food safety is probably the primary consideration when selecting foods to take along on a picnic. Most of the time, an outdoor meal is accompanied by a stroll, and the picnickers may not eat the food right away once the destination has been reached. This means that foods may be sitting at warm temperatures, potentially allowing bacteria to breed. When planning for an outdoor meal, think about how long the food will be out, and try to avoid foods that may pose bacterial risks, such as meats. If you want to take these types of foods along, plan on packing them in ice so that they will stay cool and safe to eat.
Location is another issue. A picnic on the beach, for example, can be lovely, but some foods attract sand more than others. When packing foods for a beach trip, think about foods that can be easily packaged and eaten with minimal exposure, such as sandwiches, rather than foods which involve a lot of handling like bread and cheese. If you are planning to visit a windy destination, you should think about how foods are packaged, as you do not want to spend your time chasing around after wrappers. When you plant to take a long hike before eating, consider the weight of all the foods that are being brought along. Cleanup should also be taken into consideration; to make it easier, you may want to think about packing damp towels in plastic bags so that picnickers can wipe their hands easily after eating.
Some classic picnic foods include sandwiches, fruit, and salads. You can chop fruit such as melons before the trip to make it easier to deal with at the site, or you can pack apples, peaches, and other single serving fruits. Sandwich fillings can vary widely, but remember to think about food safety when assembling them, and try to ice them, along with salads. You can also pack things like dried fruit, bread, various spreads, cheese, and pickled foods such as olives. Many delis also feature finger foods that are great for a picnic, such as dolmades, samosas, and Chinese dumplings. No meal would be complete with desserts like cupcakes, cookies, or candy bars, but try to keep them cool so that they do not soften or melt.
It is also important to think about drinks when you are packing your fod. Because you will probably be out in the sun, you should be certain to pack plenty of plain water to keep everyone hydrated. In addition, you may want to consider drinks like iced tea, lemonade, and fruit juices. For adults in the party, small amounts of beer and wine can be enjoyable, but be aware of the potential dangers of drinking in the sun, and make sure that the drivers refrain from consuming alcohol.