Posted 5th Jul 2018
The current heat wave means it's time to start thinking about one of the more enjoyable parts of summer - picnics!
This time of year is the ideal time to create your own homemade picnic for a fun-filled family day out in the great outdoors.
By making your own picnic, it can be as healthy as you want, giving you the chance to try out new recipes and try summery foods they otherwise may not have tried.
If you want to create your own picnic, follow these tips from Jane Tyland from kitchen appliance manufacturer Belling...
Keep it simple
Picnics typically consist of packing up a basket of finger foods and heading to a relaxing spot in your favourite park. Why not follow suit and stick to preparing food that you can then eat cold? This means they can be prepared in advance and stay fresh while you hunt down the perfect picnic spot.
These foods can be a variety of family-favourites – for instance sandwiches, vegetable sticks and dips, and quiche slices. Items which have low melting points such as chocolate are best avoided as they will lose their shape and consistency in the boot of your car.
However, any foods that you'd refrigerate will need to be kept cool when on the go. Ice packs and cool bags are a necessity for successful picnics and help to keep your food in good condition - you just need to be aware of how you're packing things in the bags!
This may sound obvious, but the heavier things should be stored at the bottom while the most delicate things should be put on the top to prevent spoilage and waste.
Messy foods are a no-go
Napkins are a must for any good picnic basket, but you should still try to avoid messy foods where you can. Runny sauces and easily squashable items are more likely to leak in the picnic basket, causing a sticky situation.
Similarly, if your food requires major assembly once you've settled in to a relaxing spot, it can be stressful constantly trying to save food from falling onto the grass - avoid the hassle!
If you've been looking forward to tucking into watermelon in the sun for a while, now's your chance - however, make this as easy as possible for yourself. Slide a stick into the fruit - you then have less chance of ending up with dirty, sticky hands, and reduce the mess being made.
Drinks are harder to handle but taking them in a sturdy thermos flask helps you to keep your cold drinks cold, or your coffee hot, providing optimal refreshment with each sip.
Get inventive with your picnic
Most picnic food is simple, so don't be afraid to try new recipes and ideas! For instance, why not switch classic sausage rolls for some yummy tomato chutney and cheese sausage rolls?
It's also a great chance to try something new with your packing and presentation skills. Keeping fruit salads or couscous and barley salads in mason jars provides a unique yet practical twist - they look the part and are easy to transport too. You can do the same for any simple shaken dressings you need to take along, decant these into a jam-jar for a quick burst of flavour onto your rainbow salad.
Not providing enough food can be problematic too, so you'll want to strike the right balance by thinking about things like how many people are going, how long you'll be outside for and how much you think people are likely to eat.
If you're aiming to be really specific, use one of the many portion planning tools that you can find online to act as a guideline for how much you should be cooking and serving.
Many people opt for disposable plates and cups when they're planning a picnic. However, these can have a negative impact - instead, you should aim to reduce the amount of waste you generate by investing in re-usable plastic crockery that can be washed out when you get home.
It may make the journey back a tad messier, but it helps you become eco-friendly and could also influence your family and friends to do the same in the future. Regular plates will also be more practical as they aren't as flimsy and unsupportive, which when you're eating outdoors, can be unhelpful.
When you're clearing up, consider opting for paper napkins - these are more eco-friendly than wet wipes, which contain non-biodegradable plastic. You can even take mini bottles of hand sanitiser so if you do have stickier foods, you can keep your hands clean.
Whether you prefer to go for a more traditional approach with your food or mix it up and take the chance to experiment, everyone will love a food-filled day out this summer!