Now is the perfect time for a lovely outdoor dining experience, and what better way to take advantage of the beautiful weather than with a picnic in the park or at the beach. Before you load up your basket, bags and coolers, we have a few tips to help the process run a little smoother. These will make packing a picnic—well, a picnic.
- Keep nonperishable foods (potato chips, fruit, etc.) separate from perishable ones—pack them in a picnic basket. This way you’ll save cooler space and ice for items that need it. The more stuff you pack in the cooler, the less cold it will be. An ideal ratio is 75 percent food and 25 percent ice.
- Pack your cooler in reverse order. Put your dessert in first, the main course second and the appetizers third. You won’t have to dig around to find the items you need.
- Freeze drinks (unless they’re in cans) the night before. This will help them stay cool, as well as act as supplemental ice in your cooler. If you’re worried about messy condensation, wrap them in aluminum foil (which may keep them frozen longer) or store in Ziploc bags. Even if you don’t freeze them, make sure they’re already cold when you pack them in your cooler.
- If you have small containers, pack individual servings of things like potato salad, fruit salad or baked beans. This way you won’t have to worry about serving spoons and you’ll save time when dishing out the food.
- If you’re packing meat to grill at your picnic site, be sure to keep the raw foods away from the cooked foods. Ideally you should put them in separate coolers.
- If it’s a particularly hot day, stock up on ice—in fact, you might want to pack a small cooler full of ice to use in your beverages, not just around them.
Final tips—pack a container of baby wipes (Save 75¢ now). They’re perfect for wiping down surfaces as well as hands before and after the meal. Also, protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays and ward off unwanted insects with these coupons from Coppertone® and OFF!®.