Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to have a perfect picnic and what food to bring!

Ever since I was really little I loved having picnics. Whether it was on the front steps, in the yard, at the pool, or just in my room, I loved them and still do. Throughout the years, I've figured out a few things to help keep my picnics running smoothly, regardless where they were held. For example, do not use open containers. Make sure any and all drinks can easily be closed, to preserve their freshness, avoid spillage, and to avoid bugs or other particles from landing in your drink(s). Nothing kills a picnic quicker than having a leaf in your drink with ants on the lid or spilling any type of liquid which would ultimately grant access for all creepy crawlers to invade your precious picnic. Unless of course you're indoors, then an open container isn't necessarily a concern. You can also use mason jars, and cover with a cupcake liner before twisting on the cap. Also, don't pre-make sandwiches packed to the brim unless you're going to eat it withing 10-15 minutes max, IF at all. When indulging in a good sandwich, you want to have the crisp lettuce, ripe avocados, juicy tomatoes, bold mustard, and delicious pastrami to be distinct in their natural flavors. Not mushed together with juices and brown avocado overwhelming your bread, creating a soggy mess. The point of a picnic is to have a peaceful eating experience that brings a sense of calm over you, allowing all tastes to be extra splendid. 

Alright I may be over exaggerating, but like I said, I love picnics. I've even starting my son young, by introducing him to picnics from birth. Granted, he was eating boob and not food in the beginning, but we eventually got to the "traditional" picnics. He's definitely a sandwich lover like myself, but we are also snack fiends, particularly healthy snacks. Now, we aren't huge health freaks, but starting from a young age, I've tried to instill in my son the difference between everyday food and occasional food, to avoid trying to convince him to eat broccoli. Picnics are no different. So besides our woven picnic basket, some sun block, and a nice big blanket, I thought I'd include a few of our overall favorites for splendid picnics, anywhere. 

A few of our favorite meals for picnics are:
-Spinach and cheese tortellini with spaghetti sauce
-Almond butter and raspberry jelly sandwiches
-Brown rice California rolls, sushi (Trader Joe's has excellent sushi)
-Avocado, spinach, mayo, and mozzarella cheese sandwiches
-Avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, mustard, mayo, pastrami sandwiches
-Chicken salad (by itself and as a sandwich)

Now, when it comes to our sandwiches, if we aren't eating on the patio or indoors, I bring the ingredients and the necessary utensils, including a cutting board, to make the sandwiches fresh at the picnic area, optimizing the sandwich experience. Also we don't add the spaghetti sauce to the tortellini pre-picnic. I make sure the tortellini is still freshly made and, again, prepare the dish at the picnic site.

A few of our favorite snacks for picnics are:
-Fresh fruit and vegetables (grapes, carrots, apples, strawberries, bananas, etc.)
-"Vanana" yogurt from Trader Joe's (which makes an excellent dip for fruit)
-Crackers (Trader Joe's Golden Round crackers are our favorite, only $1.99 and better than Ritz!)
-Apple sauce
-String cheese
-Trader Joe's movie theater popcorn (already popped, comes in a red bag)

When it comes to these snacks, they're pretty self explanatory and delicious! Just make sure not to include too many snacks, especially when you're picnicking with a toddler. You want them to eat the actual meal and not just snacks.  

A few of our favorite drinks to quench our thirst on a picnic are:
-Water (half frozen water bottles are the best)
-Pineapple juice
-Homemade lemonade (or store bought, I don't judge)
-Homemade fruit, almond, and spinach smoothies (or Jamba Juice, again no judgement)
-Gatorade (mostly when the picnic includes a physical activity in the sun)
-Tropical carrot juice blend (Again, Trader Joe's)

Again, we make sure that regardless the drink we choose, we always have it in a resealable bottle of some sort. 

And lastly, few of our favorite desserts to end our delicious picnics are:
-Sour fruit snacks (Trader Joe's "TJ's" are sooooo delicious)
-Milk chocolate
-Ice cream (we mostly go to Rite Aid to purchase a scoop or two, since it does melt)
-Banana nut muffins

An important thing to remember when it comes to any dessert that you choose to take on your picnic, is making sure that they are sealed completely away from any possible intruders, mostly of the crawler variety. They particularly love sweets, so be sure to save them ti'll the end and again, keep them away from anything potentially wanting to taint your delicious sweets. 

I swear, I'm not a spokesperson for Trader Joe's or professionally affiliated with them in any way. I just simply love their products. I will admit, they have a few things I will happily pass on, as everyone has faults of their own, but not many. I always choose to store the food in "tupperware", specifically from Ikea as they're cheap, multi-sized, and work amazingly. Also, when it comes to food you want to keep cold (lettuce, fruits, mayo, sushi), you may want to put it in a separate lunch bag that's insulated. The frozen teething rings you give babies make perfect "ice cubes" for keeping the items inside your insulated lunch bag cold, without melting quickly.

I'm an avid picnic-er and I truly enjoy being outdoors while devouring delicious food. So whether or not you've decided to go to the beach with a homemade packed picnic basket or decided to buy a pizza from Costco and watch a drive-in movie (which we've done, and love), just enjoy yourself. The most important thing is to indulge in the finer things that disconnect us from technology. While pictures to commemorate the beautiful moments is an added bonus in this day and age, sometimes we need to take a step back and just focus on the surroundings we so blessedly have. Like I always say, it could ALWAYS be worse. 

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