One of our favorite parts about the spring and summer seasons is outdoor grilling. We love heading outside into the great outdoors to soak up the fresh air, sunshine and delicious smells of the backyard grill. The warmer weather welcomes family, friends and neighbors over for an outdoor meal, but why not think outside the bun and host an outdoor picnic?
Although hot dogs and hamburgers are a summertime staple, why not get creative and try something sweet like Chicken & Apple Mini Sliders or something savory like Pork & Sage Mini Sliders. Be bold with Chipotle Chicken Patties, Thai Turkey or go with a deliciously addictive dish like Umami Beef. Hosting a themed picnic? Channel the vibes of the Mediterranean and serve your favorite Mediterranean style dishes with an addition of Mediterranean Beef. Yum!
Thinking outside the bun is easier than you think. Here are seven tips on how you can have a more mindful summer picnic this season.
#1 Select a Spot
When picking the ultimate picnic spot, seek some shade under a big tree or umbrella. Although fun in the sun is enjoyable, it’s important to take breaks in the shade to prevent heat exhaustion and sunburn. Speaking of sunshine, don’t forget sunblock and bug spray. Remember to reapply frequently, especially if you plan on playing a friendly game of frisbee with the family.
#2 Pack Extra Utensils
You can never be too prepared when picnicking, so be sure to pack extra utensils. You can never have too many forks, knives and spoons after all! Plus, you should never use the same utensils for raw beef, poultry, pork and seafood, so go ahead and throw n extra pair or two of tongs and kitchen utensils in your picnic basket. You never know when you will need them!
Tip: Keep fresh produce, already prepared foods and raw foods separate to prevent cross-contamination.
#3 Keeping Foods Cold
After you finish preparing any cold dishes for your picnic, like pasta salad, let them cool to room temperature before storing them in your refrigerator. When you’re ready to head over to your prime picnic spot, place ice packs at the bottom of your cooler then place the cooled dishes on top. Make sure the cooler lid is closed tightly when it’s not in use to keep the inside as cool as possible and thereby your cold dish chilled. If possible, keep your cooler in a shady location clear from the sunshine and heat.
Tip: Keep cold food at 40º Fahrenheit or cooler.
#4 Keeping Foods Frozen
If you wish to bring frozen food and treats to your summer picnic, it is possible with the help of dry ice. Dry ice will keep foods frozen for up to 24 hours. A word of caution: Dry ice cannot be handled with bare skin, so wear gloves when handling it. Most dry ice comes wrapped in plastic bags, but it’s still best to take proper safety precautions.
Tip: If you prefer to not use dry ice, freeze BPA-free water bottles and use them as ice packs then once they melt, enjoy a crisp, cool drink of water to quench your thirst.
#5 Keeping Foods Hot
Picnicking near home makes transporting hot dishes easy. Simply bring your dish to a simmer right before leaving the house and serve within one hour. If your picnic spot is not close to home, pack your dish up in an insulated cooler. Line the top and bottom of the cooler with kitchen cloths or towels as any open-air space will quickly dissipate heat.
#6 Don’t Forget Dessert
Don’t get weighed down by heavy dessert dishes. Instead, keep things light with frozen fresh fruit like berries and grapes, apple slices with homemade fruit dip or fresh farmers market watermelon slices.
#7 Clean Up
Keep clean up easy by packing a low-waste and/or plastic free picnic. By utilizing reusable cups, plates and silverware, you can greatly reduce any picnic waste. However, you should still come prepared with bags to collect compost, recyclables and garbage.
Incorporate these seven tips to have a more mindful summer picnic with family, friends and neighbors and remember to get creative with your picnic spread and think outside the bun.
Think outside the bun with this delicious recipe for a Thai Turkey Noodle Bowl topped in a savory peanut dressing. Yum! Need some more creative culinary ideas for your next summertime picnic? Access our arsenal of recipes. Happy picnicking everyone!
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