Summer in Utah is a great time for a picnic. Take advantage of the fresh produce of the season for a colorful, tasty, and healthy meal. A picnic basket packed with a variety of fruits and veggies provides your body with much needed vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Meals don’t have to be complex to be healthy. Plan a simple picnic for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and enjoy getting outside this summer.
Follow these ten tips for the perfect picnic:
- Check the weather. Nothing spoils a picnic more quickly than bad weather. Be sure to check the forecast before you pack your basket.
- Keep it easy. Pick foods that are easy to transport, easy to eat, and easy to pack. Finger foods, like raw fruits and veggies, pre-made sandwiches or wraps, pre-made salads, and cheese and crackers are all great choices. Cream Cheese and Herb Cucumber Bites is one of my favorite finger food recipes. To make it even easier to transport, slice the cucumbers before you go and pack the filling in a plastic container. Bring along a butter knife and spread the filling on the cucumber slices when you are ready to eat.
- Keep MyPlate in mind. Pair the fresh fruits and veggies of the summer season with whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein for a well-balanced MyPlate meal.
- Don’t go without H2O. Being out in the summer heat, you are likely to get thirsty. Be sure to pack plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Skip the sugary drinks and bring along flavored water instead. Strawberry Lime Water is my favorite. Use mason jars to pack it in your picnic basket and bring straws for easy sipping.
- Think it through. Take a minute to visualize what it will be like when you eat. Imagine pulling the food from the cooler or picnic basket, setting it on your plate, and preparing it. As you think through each step, double check that you have packed each of the food items, utensils, and condiments you will need.
- Put it in reverse. To make your picnic items easy to get to, pack in reverse order with food on the bottom, plates and other serving utensils in the middle, and the blanket or tablecloth on top.
- It’s not all about the food. Enjoy some physical activity after you eat. Pack a frisbee or soccer ball, or plan a walk around the park.
- Don’t be bugged. Bring bug spray to keep bugs and other pests away and to prevent them from making you their picnic!
- Bag it. After you eat, you are likely to have a few dirty dishes or other non-disposable kitchen items. Bring plastic bags with you to easily transport the dirty dishes home. It is also a good idea to pack a garbage bag for easy clean up of trash items.
- Keep food safe. Perishable picnic foods need to be kept at the right temperature. The danger zone is between 40 and 140 degrees fahrenheit. To keep foods safe, be sure your cooler is packed with sufficient ice and keep the lid closed as much as possible.
Are you still trying to decide what food you’ll take on your next picnic? Give Triple Berry Salad a try. Pack the dressing separate from the other ingredients and add what you need right before you eat. Enjoy!Candi Merritt
Certified Nutrition Education Assistant