Packing the perfect picnic basket

A summer day is the perfect opportunity to take in a meal alfresco. Enjoy the nice weather in style: throw down a beach blanket and have a cold beer and a sandwich next to your local lake, follow up a bike ride with a romantic meal for two in the park, or prepare the perfect midday meal for a day hike. If you’re really gunning for that classy look, you’ll probably need a good picnic basket. (and maybe a swanky parasol and gingham tablecloth). However, packing a picnic basket to prepare for your lovely meal in the sun takes some serious foresight.

Keep food at the correct temperature
This one sounds like a no brainer, but it can be tough to keep food at a safe temperature. The moment foods reach higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, they become susceptible to microorganisms. If you are packing raw meat, such as hamburger patties that you plan to grill, freeze it before the trip so that it naturally thaws while you transport it. Some picnic baskets are insulated or have sections that function as a cooler. Use ice packs to keep these compartments at the right temperature. Properly wrapping food is also important. Tin foil protects food from moisture and will help keep your picnic basket clean.

Don’t forget utensils and cleaning supplies
For a light and easy picnic, pack foods that don’t require utensils, such as sandwiches and potato chips. However, if you want a more elaborate meal, think about what utensils you need to bring while you’re packing.

Remember to bring napkins and trash bags to clean up after you finish eating. If you’re camping overnight, food refuse can attract unwanted animal attention. Many campsites mandate specific and thorough rules for getting rid of rubbish and food waste. A lot of campsites also discourage using soap to clean plates unless bathroom facilities with running water are available. This is to prevent soap from contaminating natural water supplies.

At the beach, be mindful of seagulls and other birds. Keep your trash away from animals to avoid a mess.

Prepare properly
Picnic baskets have a finite amount of space, so doing as much prep work as possible beforehand will help lighten the load and save room. For example, if you’re planning on cooking kebabs on the grill at a park, cutting your meat and vegetables and placing them in a container will take up less space in your picnic basket. You’ll also be losing all the weight from the unusable parts of the vegetables and eliminating preparation time.

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