From over-the-top feasts to simple pick-ups, picnics are the perfect way to celebrate summer. Use our tips, secrets, and recipes to make yours memorable.
No-Risk PicnicsFollow simple safety tips when packing picnics to ensure that the only bugs around your picnics are the jealous mosquitoes. When planning your picnic, scan our 16-item checklist to make sure you've covered the basics of keeping food properly chilled, handling leftovers, and ensuring that your eating area and hands are clean. A good rule of thumb? Upon returning home, if the ice in the cooler has melted, the leftovers are likely no longer cool enough to be considered safe to eat.
On-the-Go PicnicFor mid-trek meals, follow tips from Real Simple to lighten your knapsack's load with handheld food that doesn't need an ice pack.
• Store water in a collapsible bottle–They're 80% lighter than the hard-plastic variety.
• Pack crushable food (think chips) in zip-top bags filled with air to create a cushion and prevent crushing.
• Pack double-duty items, like a sandwich sleeve that doubles as a place mat or napkin.
Follow the Picnic Packing Checklist from RealSimple.com to ensure you don't find yourself ready to eat, but lacking plates.
Portable Picnic ChickenSkip the go-to PBJ and pack picnic fare that's guaranteed to please. Browse our 8 best chicken picks, made for on-the-go munching. Cold chicken is always tasty, but if you'd rather pack a sandwich, be cautious of dishes made with mayonnaise or other ingredients that may spoil in the heat. Go for vinegar-based salads and spreads, which keep well in the cooler and shave a few calories, too.
Summer Pasta SaladsDepending on your tastes, and your crowd, pasta salads make a great side dish or main course for outdoor gatherings. Bring a large batch of one of our 12 delicious pasta salad recipes to the next neighborhood block party or casual park gathering. Keep salads cool by nestling serving bowls in store-bought bowl chillers or our homemade version–a larger serving bowl filled with ice.
A Day at the BeachFollow tips from Real Simple on how to pack enough for a day without overloading your basket.
• Use multipurpose utensils to save space and reduce to risk of misplacing a utensil beneath the blanket.
• Easier to manage than a cooler but less bulky than a classic wicker tote, insulated baskets keep food cool then collapse when they're empty.
• Carry drinks in a handy tote. Packing drinks separately saves you space and lightens the load of the picnic basket.
Be sure to check out our list of Must-Eat Bikini Body Foods to get in your best swimsuit shape.
Sweet Victory: Treats for TailgatingPacking a picnic for a summer sporting event? Don't stop with the main dish; rally the troops in the last inning with portable treats that pack well and require no refrigeration. Cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and peanut brittle are all fun-to-make and easy-to-transport ideas. Check out our 10 best crowd pleasers.
Brown Bag AlternativesIf the occasion calls for sandwiches, break out of the everyday ham-cheese-spread mold and serve one of our 5 favorite gourmet-style stackers. From Peanut Butter-Banana Spirals to BLT Wraps, these stackers are anything but square.
Make a Night of ItTransform your picnic into an elegant affair by following tips from Real Simple .
• Sittings is for sissies–Encourage lounging with weather-resistant pillows spread around the blanket.
•Sip in style with shatterproof wine glasses that feature removable stems. Nothing says "upscale" like ditching the plastic cups.
•Add mood lighting with a tealight lantern, or a pretty cintronella candle that casts a lovely glow while keeping the bugs away.
Check out our collection of summer appetizers, perfect for a night on the lawn or an evening on the back porch.