Summer is here, which means the kids are out of school. More free time as a family – whether that means traveling, or staying home and catching up on yard work. As a child, my aunts, Dot and Emily would take us on vacations, either camping, occasionally to Dauphin Island, Alabama, or to visit cousins in another state.
On longer trips, we all knew there was a magic picnic basket and ice chest sitting in the back. It contained just about anything you could imagine. Dessert might be just a simple package of store-bought cookies, but the real treat was when she made Peanut Rolls. Somehow, the idea of stopping at a fast-food restaurant just didn’t appeal to us. Instead, we stayed in a constant state of anticipation on what that magic basket might hold.
Having a picnic isn’t just fun, it is also cost effective. For a family of four to eat out, it can cost you anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the restaurant and what is ordered. A picnic not only will taste better and be healthier (depending on what you put in it!), but it can also save you money. And you don’t have to travel to have one. Take a break from all the yard work and serve a picnic outside. It will add a bit of fun to an otherwise hardworking day.
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Ready for a picnic? Here are a few tips:
A picnic ‘basket’ can be anything from a one person to a 12 person size. I have several sizes, but have also been known to use just a plastic grocery bag or a tote. At the very least, you need room for food in containers, utensils, and napkins. While you are at it, go ahead and get ice chests in small, medium and large sizes. That way you’ll be ready for any number of picnickers.
There are so many delicious picnic foods. The traditional food contains fried chicken, Cole Slaw and/or potato salad, baked beans and some delicious rolls. Oh. And don’t forget the Chocolate Cake. But you don’t have to bake all of that. Just a simple sandwich, some chips and fruit make a perfect cool meal. One of my simple go-to sandwiches is a roll up. With a flour tortilla as the base, the sky is the limit. My favorite is a Spinach Chicken Strawberry Roll Up, based on my recipe for Strawberry Spinach Salad. (Here is how I make this Spinach Chicken Roll Up. Or, enjoy the salad version – Strawberry Spinach Salad)
Any Meal of the Day
Do NOT ever make the mistake in thinking picnics are just for lunch, or the mistake of thinking it takes at least two to have one. I take personal picnics quite frequently. It can be simple or fancy, according to your mood. My favorite picnic is breakfast. The day is still cool, and a shade tree with good food and a good book is just the ticket to getting my day started.
Use the Good Stuff
Go ahead – use the china. And don’t forget to invite the critters. A simple tea party with nothing more than a china tea set, a tea cake and a cup of tea is the perfect way to entertain smaller children.
A Small Gathering
If you choose to have a picnic for just one or two, pack your ice chest with fun, pre-made drinks. Mason jars are a perfect size for small chests, and with the new lids that accommodate straws, you don’t have to worry about spilling some of that delicious lemonade when you try to pour. A tip here: Place a piece of masking tape over the hole for travel. Add the straws when ready. (Want to learn how to make great Lemonade? Read all about it here!)
Picnics aren’t just for trips to the park or vacations. Go ahead. Grab a basket or a bag, paper towels or linen napkins. Whip up a few sandwiches, grab a bag of chips and your ice chest and head on out the door. And while you are there, just relax, enjoy and fill the air with laughter or sighs of delight. What a great way to spend some of those hot summer days!
Are you having a picnic this summer? Be sure to share stories and photos in the comments!
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