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How to make the perfect picnic

24th June 2021

In July it is National Picnic Month in the UK and with the light evenings and warmer weather it is the perfect opportunity for you to pack up your picnic basket and head outdoors with your close family or friends.

With many of us having spent a lot of time indoors during the pandemic, picnics have been a great way to socialise with friends and family as they can easily be enjoyed at a 2-meter distance. There are lots of other benefits when it comes to picnics as they are inexpensive and you will spend time out in nature, which can be incredibly beneficial.

This guide shares ideas for creating the perfect picnic as well as the best picnic food ideas you should consider when you are planning one.

Ideas for creating the perfect picnic

  • Check the weather
  • Choose an accessible location for your picnic
  • Pack right and light
  • Bring something that you can cut on
  • Plan your food and prepare it at home
  • Keep bugs at bay

Check the weather

The weather in the UK can be changeable, to say the least, so you must check the weather report before you set off.

Great British Chefs, who share recipes from the UK's best chefs, said one of the initial things you should do when planning a picnic is to check the weather otherwise it can turn into a drama.

“First of all, check the weather – too many picnics end up being eaten in a cramped car due to rain!”

If it is raining you can reschedule the picnic for another time or day or you can look for an alternative destination that has covered picnic tables so you are sheltered from adverse weather.

READ MORE: Summer health and safety advice for older people

Choose an accessible location for your picnic

If you are searching for ‘picnic locations near me’ then you want to choose somewhere that is scenic and idyllic. If the weather is hot, then picking a location that has shade is a good idea.

If there are children that will be going to the picnic it is wise to pick a location that has plenty of surrounding space so they can run around and play safely.

For anybody that has mobility problems and needs to use stair lifts or a wheelchair, then this needs to be considered when choosing a location. There are lots of wheelchair accessible picnic benches across the UK so it is just a case of doing a bit of research to see how close they are to where you are planning your picnic.

READ MORE: The UK's most accessible picnic locations

Pack right and light

Whilst wicker baskets are charming, they aren’t always the most practical option and it might be easier to use an insulated bag that has compartments and straps to secure your food, plates and cutlery.

It is always worth remembering that somebody will always have to carry the picnic so it is important to keep it light. Nobody wants to struggle with a heavy basket or cool box and it might be worth considering taking paper plates and plastic cutlery instead of heavier crockery.

Great British Chefs talks a bit more about some of the items that you should bring with you: “Bring a bag to put rubbish in and ensure you have enough cutlery if the food you're bringing needs it (including things like bread knives and serving spoons). Invest in some decent melamine or plastic crockery and glasses, as the last thing you want is smashed plates, and a big bottle of tap water can be useful if you need to briefly rinse things before packing them back up again.”

Bring something that you can cut on

Linking in with equipment to pack for a picnic, something that is often forgotten about is to bring a chopping board or hard surface that you can cut food on.

If you aren’t cutting sandwiches, cheeses and cakes at home before your trip, then you need to ensure you have a solid surface that you can cut on.

Paper plates may well be light to carry and perfect for a picnic, but they are not of any use when you are trying to cut something up.

READ MORE: Best items to help in your kitchen

Plan your food and prepare it at home

It is common for people to pick up ‘ready to eat’ foods at their local supermarket and to just put it in their picnic basket, but something to consider is to plan food that goes well together. This will mean that you have more chance of all the food being eaten and hopefully less to carry back with you.

Planning your picnic food ahead of time is another good idea as it means all you need to do on arrival is to place the foods out on your blanket and to eat them. By preparing the food before your picnic also means you will take just what you need and won’t overpack.

Keep bugs at bay

Wasps are often the great enemy when you are enjoying an outdoor picnic in the UK, but there are some simple things you can do to reduce the likelihood of insects ruining your picnic.

There are lots of retailers who sell mason jars with lids and straws which are perfect for covering up your drinks as it means insects cannot get in them.

If you have anything sweet or sticky, then you should keep them in your cool box or picnic basket until you really need them as these types of foods can attract wasps and flies.

Picnic food ideas

•Salads and sandwiches

•Mini Gluten-Free Margherita Pizzas

•Chicken and mushroom pie

•Summer pasta with minted peas and basil

Salads and sandwiches

Salads and sandwiches are arguably the foods most associated with picnics as they are quick to make and are easy to carry around with you.

Great British Chefs explains why salads and sandwiches are great for a picnic: “Picnic food needs to travel well and taste nice at room temperature. Try and keep salads and dressings separate until you start eating, so they don't become soggy.

“Sandwiches are always a good idea as they don't require any assembly, and a few packs of charcuterie with a decent hard cheese, a jar of pickles and crusty bread allows everyone to help themselves to whatever they want. Traditional picnic foods such as quiche sound like a good idea, but they have a tendency to become a bit sweaty during travel, and if you don't end up eating the whole thing you usually have to throw it away as it probably won't survive a second trip home.”

Mini Gluten-Free Margherita Pizzas

If you can only eat gluten-free foods then there are still plenty of options for you to choose from and this is a picnic food idea that Becky Excell, a gluten-free recipe creator, photographer and author who shares her thoughts on the Gluten Free Cuppa Tea blog, highly recommends.

She says: “Who doesn’t love a mini pizza at a picnic? Mine has a beautifully rich pizza sauce and stringy mozzarella, plus Juvela gluten-free bread makes the perfect base – hot or cold. It’s light, fluffy and crispy and the kids will absolutely love it!”

Chicken and mushroom pie

Would a classic British picnic be the same without a savoury pie? The UK is famed for its savoury pies and it is one of the oldest dishes in the country with roots that date back to the Middle Ages.

There are a plethora of savoury pies that you can choose from as many are made with different types of pastry and there are lots of different fillings you can enjoy such as steak and ale, meat and potato and minced beef and onion.

Andrea, who is the author behind The Petite Cook blog, says that the chicken and mushroom pie is not only her favourite but is perfect for a picnic.

“The chunky pieces of chicken are tender and flavourful, the creamy filling is rich and perfectly complimented by nutty mushrooms and crispy leeks.

“It's hard to resist something like that. In one of those too-many rainy days in the city,  a chicken and mushroom pie is the treat that makes the weather bearable.

“This recipe is ideal to make on the weekend, it's the perfect comfort food for a Sunday dinner or a picnic, for brunch/lunch/snack... anytime really.”

Summer pasta with minted peas and basil

If you are looking to add a tasty pasta dish to your picnic then there are lots of different recipes that you can choose from.

One pasta dish that food writer Kip, who is behind the Messy Vegan Cook blog, suggests you take on a picnic is a pasta dish with minted peas and basil.

“I can think of worse things than kids fighting over who can fit the most peas in a piece of pasta and eat it before the other.

“This refreshing and healthy vegan pasta dish serves two as a hot main, but I would seriously consider it as a side salad-y type thing for a picnic basket!”

If you’re planning a picnic and want to get the whole family involved, including members of your family who suffer from mobility problems and struggle to move around without the likes of straight stairlifts and walking aids, then these are just some ideas for creating the perfect picnic.

If you want to read more articles like this, then check out the Mobility News section of the site.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.