Get out that picnic basket, sun hat, sunscreen, picnic blanket, cooler and, yes, that tucked-away thermos. Let the sizzlin' summer picnics begin while keeping cool with this down-home favorite menu!
Have a picnic basket stocked and ready to go any time with items needed for the next picnic: disposable plates, cups and silverware, napkins, paper towels, serving spoons, pot holders, a sharp knife, bottle/can opener, salt and pepper shakers, matches, tablecloth or blanket, as well as moist towelettes and garbage bags for cleanup.
- Make "hobo packs." For each person, wrap a plastic plate, plastic cup, plastic silverware and individually wrapped moist towelette in a bandana, and tie it to a stick of green wood. The sticks make it easy for picnickers—kids included—to carry their own supplies, and the bandanas become napkins!
- Keep hot foods hot by wrapping the dish in heavy-duty aluminum foil and then in several layers of newspaper. Carry it in an insulated chest, or place it in a box and surround with pillows, blankets or a quilt.
Chill foods thoroughly before placing them in the cooler. Fill the cooler as full as possible. A full cooler stays cool longer than one that's only partially full.
Use ice packs or blocks of ice instead of ice cubes—they last longer. Make your own blocks of ice, using clean half-gallon milk cartons. Fill the cartons with water and freeze; place the chunk of ice in a resealable freezer bag.
- Freeze special beverage cubes with fruit juice for fruit drinks, tea for tea drinks. When the cubes melt, you have cool liquids, not watered-down beverages!
Pack and Stack
- Egg cartons make "eggstra-easy" convenient containers for small items such as filled cherry or roma tomatoes or deviled eggs. Cut deviled eggs in half crosswise instead of lengthwise. Line the carton with plastic wrap, or wrap each egg individually in plastic wrap. Eggs cut lengthwise can be sandwiched together and packed.
- Pack the cooler so that foods to be eaten first are on top, to avoid packing and repacking the food.
- Pack only what you can eat at the picnic; perishable leftovers may contain harmful bacteria. Any perishable food left out for more than 2 hours should be tossed. When in doubt, toss it out.