Do you have this fantasy of yourself as an organized, creative mother who makes all of the recipes you pin on Pinterest and packs a balanced, organic picnic for every trip out?
As the holiday weekend approaches, chill out and realize that your kids will love anything you choose to call a picnic. Take your regular dinner outside and eat on the lawn. It’s a picnic! Take cheese and crackers to the park. That’s a picnic, too. When it is 100°F outside and you have a red air warning, spread a blanket on the floor in the living room, and call that a picnic. You don’t have to drive an hour into the wilderness with a full meal packed in a specially designed basket with matching flatware. Yes, it would be nice, but don’t worry about the details too much.
Nice to Have
A Blanket. If you have an outdoor blanket that you can spread on the lawn then easily wash afterward, you’re set. No blanket? Just choose a spot with picnic tables.
A Basket. Sure, it’s nice to have a basket with every little thing tucked into its tidy pocket. It you have it, take it. If you don’t, put some tough plates and forks into a canvas bag. The basket may be iconic, but it isn’t necessary.
Drinks. This is a must. It doesn’t have to be wine or juice or anything more than water, but bring the drinks.
Finger Foods. Clean and dry. Though not essential, its easier to picnic on foods that don’t spill or get your fingers all messy.
Room Temperature. Hold the mayo. If you are going to be outside for a while and you don’t have the basket that fits ice packs to keep everything cold, skip the foods that spoil or wilt quickly.
Cloths. Bring reusable cloths. Maybe not absolutely essential, but going anywhere with children is easier if you have a few washable cloths and a spray bottle. We use ours as napkins then unpack right into the washing machine.
Individual Portions. You don’t need portions separated at all. You could pass around one container and share, but, if you want to serve individual meals, it can save space and make serving easier if you pack each person’s food in a separate storage container that doubles as a serving container. Lightweight, stainless lunch containers for school lunch easily double as picnicware.
Games. This could be as simple as a doll or a toy car for a young child, but we like to throw in a card game. It gives us an excuse to linger in our chosen spot. Of course, you don’t need an excuse. Just linger! Go for a walk. Just consider whether your children need enough entertainment to keep them occupied while the adults eat.
Utensils. If you bring finger foods, you don’t need utensils. If you do need utensils, bring reusable. It’s just too easy not to. Super lightweight bamboo utensils don’t add much bulk or weight to your basket or bag.
As in so many situations as a parent, you soon realize that you don’t need a bunch of extra stuff made specifically for one situation. If you have a long weekend coming up and you want to go on a picnic, just grab what you have and go. It’s an adventure. Your children will have a great time.