Fun Summer Picnic Ideas

Why not consider breaking the mold this year and do something a bit different? Below are some perfect summer picnic ideas, along with food safety tips.

Safety First
Picnics can be a lot of fun but not if you end up with a bout of food poisoning. Careful planning can prevent food spoilage. Here are some simple safety rules to remember when planning your picnic:

  • Keep foods properly chilled. Meats and other foods that spoil easily, such as salads prepared with mayonnaise, need to be kept properly cold. Place them in coolers with plenty of ice. Put them in the cooler directly from the refrigerator. Don't let them set out in the kitchen at room temperature before packing them.
  • Handle raw meat carefully. Keeping it in a separate cooler is a good idea but if that isn't possible place it on the bottom of the cooler, packed in plenty of ice. You want to avoid having the other foods come in contact with the raw meat.
  • Don't let food set out for long periods on the picnic table. Foods should only set out for an hour or two before being placed back in chilled coolers.
  • Place grilled foods on a clean plate. Don't use the same plate on which you kept raw meat.


Plan Your Picnic
A few minutes planning ahead of time can save you a lot of trouble. You don't want to plan a large gathering only to arrive at your favorite picnic spot and find all the picnic tables are taken. If you are planning on going to somewhere such as a local or state park, call ahead and see if they have pavilions you can reserve. Often these are available for a low fee or even no fee at all. If you're not sure who to call, and you have never been to the spot before, visit ahead of time and scope out the locations of the picnic tables and bathrooms. Find out of the park has a swimming area and playground area for the kids. All these things will help your day go smoothly.

Picnic Smarts
Having some picnic smarts can enhance your day of fun and fellowship. First, carefully plan on where to spread your picnic blanket. Check for rocks and tree roots. You want to be in the shade, so put your picnic blanket or table under a tree or plan on using portable pavilions or large beach umbrellas. This is especially important with babies and young children. Put a table cloth on picnic tables that are already there.

To avoid bees and ants, keep sodas and other sugary foods covered and away from the table where everyone is eating. Use citronella candles to keep mosquitoes away as the sun goes down. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you if there is no source of water at the location. Bring washcloths to wipe hands and faces. Pack the basic supplies: aluminum foil, plates, cups, tableware, plastic wrap, garbage bags, can opener, tongs for the grill, plates to place hot food on (not Styrofoam), toys for the kids, charcoal and matches. Make a list and check it off as you go. Be sure and remember your camera so you capture all the day's fun.

Picnic Ideas
Not many of us have a problem planning for your basic picnic. You take your food, (hamburgers, coleslaw, buns, ketchup), picnic blankets, suntan lotion, Frisbee and drink coolers and head off for a day in the sun. That is the simplest form of picnicking and can be wonderful. But why not do something slightly different? Here are some other ideas for picnics:

  • Try a themed picnic. Why not host a luau? Have everyone wear brightly colored Hawaiian shirts, bring luau foods such as pork and fruit salads, serve alcohol free piña coladas and use tropical themed tablecloths, plates and flatware. Have a hula contest and let the kids decorate coconuts. Other fun theme ideas might be a pirate theme, a shipwreck theme, western round-up theme or even a dessert theme.
  • Try some place new and different. If you typically go to the local beach plan your next picnic along a local hiking trail. Have everyone pack their own picnic backpack for this picnic with their foods, tableware and drink in the backpack. Include foods that won't spoil such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix and fresh fruit. Pre-freeze drink bottles so they thaw slowly as you hike. Take along plenty of water.
  • Bad weather? Don't let that stop you! Picnic indoors! If a rain storm moves in the day you have the big event planned don't panic. Picnicking indoors can be fun. Instead of swimming you might play board games, broil your meat instead of grilling it and spread your blanket on the living room floor.
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