I will be the first person to admit that when I lived in New York, I did not take advantage of the culture that the city had to offer.
Though I had friends and coworkers who went to concerts in the park on Wednesday evenings, art museums on the weekends and biking in Central Park during the summer, I was always in Camp Flee The City On Weekends.
Now that I live in Chicago, I find myself outdoors a great deal more often, be it on the rooftop pool at my gym, dining out on a patio with friends or more recently, packing a picnic with friends to a free concert in Millennium Park.
When you’re packing a picnic to transport, whether it’s a two-mile drive in the backseat of your car or um, a forty-minute haul on public transportation, you’re a little limited as to what you can and should bring with you. I’ve learned a few things during summer picnicking ventures so I feel like it’s my duty to share them with you.
Bring a wine opener if you’re planning to drink wine. There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in the great outdoors with a bottle of vino, a stack of red solo cups…and no corkscrew. To guarantee that this doesn’t happen to you, choose screw-top wines, which are becoming more popular, or make sure to pop a wine key in your purse before you head outside.
Avoid packaging your food in glass containers. They clank, they break and they’re heavy. My favorite way to tote food to-go is to save up plastic containers from take-out orders and reuse them for portability. Not only are the containers designed to stack in such a way that you can tote them easily, you didn’t buy them, so you won’t feel bad if they accidentally get tossed. While I won’t caution against reusable containers (hello, environment!) you will want to bring something that you can wipe down, wash or rinse on-site to avoid a big mess when you get home.
Watch the mayo-based salads. It’s summer. It’s hot. Mayonnaise and dairy products spoil quickly in hot conditions. Either plan on eating them right away when you arrive at the picnic (our chicken salad is so good that it won’t last long enough to spoil) or skip bring salads with pesto or vinaigrette instead of creamy dressings.
Summer Picnic Potluck Menu
Whether you’re supplying the food and inviting friends to come and enjoy or designating dishes for guests to bring to share with the group, we have some perfect picnic potluck menu ideas to help you plan your next park or backyard gathering before the summer winds to an end.
What are your favorite foods to pack on a picnic? Leave your tips and ideas in the comment section below.