Let’s be honest: Whatever you’re doing right now, you’d rather be at the beach. I know I’d like to get some sand between my toes. If you’re land-locked like me but longing for the ocean, channel that into a beach-inspired picnic at the park (or at the sandy lake shore.) Here’s what you’ll need.
The Menu Game Plan
Fresh, easy-to-prepare recipes are ideal picnic fare. Here’s what to serve at your beachy meal:
Pressed Italian Sandwiches: These sandwiches from The Cilantropist were practically designed to be picnic fare: You “press” it overnight under something heavy in the fridge (think a can or two of tomatoes), then slice, wrap in paper and tie with twine. The result: an easy-to-eat, delicious sandwich that won’t be worse for the wear if the pasta salad shifts during transit.
Tuscan Pasta Salad With Grilled Vegetables: It’s the picnic staple…with an Italian twist. Make this pasta salad, studded with bits of sweet grilled fennel and bell peppers, up to 6 hours before you plan to serve it.
Cheesecake In a Jar: A picnic is the perfect time to cash in on the “food in jars” trend. Individual cheesecakes tucked into jars are easy to transport and easy to eat. Top with your favorite in-season fruit. Make at least 5 hours before your picnic, or the night before.
The Essential Gear
Food: check. Now, here’s what you need to make your picnic as comfortable as it is delicious:
Chic and Durable Tableware: This isn’t the time for fine china…find some chic melamine plates like this nautical Timber Cove set. While you’re out, grab some coordinating plastic cups. Durable Mason jars are a great option, too. Basic, white melamine serving trays provide a stable place to hold serving dishes and drinks.
Blankets and Pillows: An uncomfortable picnic is a short picnic. You want to eat, lounge, nap and repeat. Bring a beach blanket like this blue polka-dotted model, or, in a pinch, an old sheet or canvas drop cloth. Bring an outdoor-friendly pillow or two, or a few towels.
Stylish Stow-ware: Picnic baskets are adorable, but they don’t keep your food cold. Coolers are functional, but typically not very attractive. Get the best of both worlds with this navy-and-white-striped bag: it’s actually a fully-lined, incognito cooler. But don’t give up on the picnic basket tradition completely: Stow room temperature foods, extra drinks, utensils, serving spoons and napkins in a woven picnic caddy.
Plus, don’t forget…
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Damp wipes or cloths for washing up
- A garbage bag
- Activities, like beach-perfect bocce ball