Preparing the Perfect Picnic

Summer is a time for wonderful picnics in the sun, filled with family, fun, and good food. But they can take a bit of planning to get right. What place will you choose to travel to, and what food will you serve? The library is here to help! This post has steps for organizing your picnic, some suggested kinds of food to bring along, and some books from CRRL’s collection on picnics with more tips. Don’t let the summer months go to waste–be sure to have a great picnic while you can.

Planning Your Picnic

For your picnic to go smoothly, you’ll need to plan it out in advance. Luckily, it’s not that hard, and there’s plenty of info online on how to do it! First, you’ll want to choose your location, opens a new window and the time of day for the picnic. Happily, it’s easy to find a list, opens a new window of scenic picnic spots in the Fredericksburg area. Next, you’ll want to make a food plan, opens a new window for what you’ll bring to eat on your picnic. If you want to keep it simple and healthy, opens a new window, choose dishes with fresh vegetables, chopped fruit, and cheeses. If you want to get a bit more adventurous, try hummus, opens a new window, classic cheese scones,, opens a new window or vegetarian wraps., opens a new window (The amount of ingredients and temperature for these British recipes may be converted for American kitchens with this handy, printable UK/US conversion chart.)

Also, consider how to pack, opens a new window for your picnic. You might want to use a wagon or other wheeled device to move your food around, and make sure to bring a quality blanket for your picnic set up. Keep any food that might spoil (and refreshing drinks!) in an appropriately sized cooler. Check here, opens a new window for guidelines on food safety when dining in the great outdoors.

A few more tips beyond these basics can turn your picnic into something special. Try putting a bouquet, opens a new window of flowers in the center of your picnic for a unique experience. A theme, opens a new window for your picnic, especially if you use it to influence your picnic food choices, can make your meal more memorable. If you’re only bringing a small group with you on the picnic, consider using reusable, opens a new window utensils and cups rather than disposables. And, you'll want a nice, shady, opens a new window spot to set up your picnic! 

Food Ideas for Picnics

If you’re curious about ideas for picnic food, there are many lists online complete with recipes to fuel your imagination. Love & Lemons, opens a new window has a set of 51 distinctive recipes for picnic food, including caprese sandwiches, quinoa veggie wraps, and a broccoli pasta salad. Mighty Moms, opens a new window features a list of 18 picnic food ideas to please kids, divided into sections on sweets, savory foods, and snacks. Fantabulosity, opens a new window offers a list of 20 picnic food ideas for couples, ranging from turkey club sliders to taco pinwheels. And, Everyday Health, opens a new window has a list of 9 picnic food options specially chosen for being low in calories and heart healthy.

CRRL’s Picnic Guides

The library’s collection offers several books on picnics, both cookbooks and guides to picnic planning. An Invitation to the Garden, opens a new window has advice on planning many types of picnics, from small informal picnics to elaborate country events. What Can I Bring?, opens a new window features recipes for over 200 easy-to-carry dishes, giving you many options to choose from in planning your picnic. Summer Cooking, opens a new window has many recipes suitable for a lazy summer afternoon, featuring food for picnics and at-home gatherings on the patio. Picnic Food, opens a new window provides recipes for a wide variety of events, from children’s parties to beach barbeques, with humorous quotes from literary characters on the joys of picnicking. If you're going somewhere with a grill (or taking a portable one), Country Living, Eating Outdoors--Sensational Recipes for Cookouts, Picnics and Take-along Food, opens a new window has 90 recipes for outdoor dining, ranging from salads to burgers to sage-buttered corn, and even praline ice cream! And, Max's Picnic Book, opens a new windowk offers 16 themed menus with recipes and insight into why we picnic and what your goals in setting up a picnic should be.