We have lots of impromptu picnics in our family, but the truth is, picnics can be hard. The packing is my least favorite part. Packing all our stuff to leave, and then unpacking it when we get home. Oh, the unpacking. It should take a few minutes but somehow it always takes days for us. I’ll think I got everything washed and put away, only to find a stray dirty container stuck in a backpack pocket a couple days later.
More surprisingly for me, given that I love to cook, is the burden of figuring out what food to bring. This is especially true when we’re meeting up with other people. It can be difficult to coordinate the menu so that all the components work together. Usually the food turns out fine, but it’s not often impressive.
As difficult as picnicking can seem, I think it’s such a good family activity. Earlier this year I decided I really needed to treat my picnicking supplies as I do my camping supplies so that we’re motivated to get out of the house for more picnics.
The most helpful thing I did was to simply declare a home for our picnic supplies. We used to have all our stuff in different locations and things would inevitably get put away in the wrong place. Now I always know where our picnic blanket is, along with a cooler bag, some outdoor plates, and utensils. I also know exactly where it goes when we’re done with it. That simple and seemingly obvious change has helped tremendously.
The other helpful idea I had was to come up with an easy picnic food theme. I can see this changing over time, but for now I’m really crazy about bruschetta. The beauty of it is you can have one person bring some nice bread and everyone else bring some toppings. Toppings can be all sorts of things, but here are some ideas:
- lemony marinated beans
- cherry tomatoes and basil drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
- smashed avocado with lemon, chile flakes and salt
- brie with thinly sliced figs or apples and a drizzle of honey
- ricotta with dates and pistachios
- Muhammara Dip
- Garlicky Lima Bean Spread
- Eggplant Caponata
- Smoky Cheese and Pepper Spread
Now that it’s Fall, the cooler weather is another factor that might make picnicking seem less enticing, but I say just bundle everyone up and pack a warming drink in a thermos to accompany your bruschetta spread.