This week, I’m super excited to be collaborating with Katie from Twin Stripe! We discovered each other on Twitter, and I was delighted when she approached me about working on something together. Katie’s beautiful blog covers design, home decor and lovely parties, and it has been such a pleasure brainstorming ideas and implementing them together.
We spent a few video-chat sessions planning a summertime picnic and, two weeks ago, I traveled to Katie’s home in Greensboro, N.C. to finally put it all together. She and her husband Chad were such wonderful hosts. We had a ton of fun shopping for, cooking for and photographing our summer picnic in the beautiful Greensboro Arboretum. All week long, we will both share our recipes and tips for a putting on a successful and easy picnic on our blogs. Check back every day this week for a new tip or recipe for a summer picnic that you can make ahead! // susannah
Click below to see our tips for planning a picnic and the schedule for the week!
If you’re planning a picnic this summer, it’s a good idea to plan your menu ahead of time. Here are a few tips from Katie and me for figuring out what you might want to serve:
Research your venue. Pick a beautiful spot for your picnic. It could be in your back yard, at a local park, on a rooftop, on a farm, at a campground, along a beach (at the lake or the beach), in the mountains or some other scenic vista. Anywhere, really! Whatever you pick will help you determine what kinds of things you can pack. If it’s a public spot, find out if they have rules about bringing alcohol or knives, then plan accordingly.
Make ahead as much as possible. Foods that can be prepared in advance are your best bets for planning a picnic. Avoid making anything with a sauce, or it can get soggy. Try to avoid making anything that will require cutting. Instead, go for foods that can be held in the hand or eaten with a fork or spoon. Do any cutting at home, and pack any ready-made condiments like salt and pepper, ketchup or mustard that you might need.
Consider temperature. You’ll be dining en plein air, so make sure everything you serve can be eaten at room temperature. Things that need to be eaten hot, like soup or cooked meats, probably won’t make it to your destination. Frozen things, like ice cream or popsicles, aren’t likely to survive unscathed, either. Pack a cooler with ice for anything that needs to be kept chilled, such as cheese and beverages. You can use the ice in drinks or use ice packs instead for less mess.
Choose dishes that can travel. Tally up your food storage containers to help you decide how you’ll get your food from A to B. Don’t make anything that you can’t get to your picnic. I once made a pie that was really juicy. It leaked all over my car on the way to my destination because I didn’t have a proper container in which to carry it. Don’t make this mistake! If you don’t have a way to transport an item, then don’t make it. I wouldn’t bring your nicest china, either.
Be environmentally friendly. Try to cut down on paper waste. Bring reusable, break-resistant plates, cups and cutlery. Foods that make a mess or have pieces leftover, like peanuts with shells or chicken bones, should be avoided to make clean-up easier. If your picnic is somewhere like a campground, remember that wildlife might be particularly interested in your scraps! Make sure to pack some bags for trash and recycling to properly dispose of any mess. Stay away from plastic wrap and throwaway containers; opt instead for parchment and twine, baking dishes, paper bags, plastic storage containers and tins.
Have something for everyone. Most picnic meals consist of an appetizer or snack, sandwiches or other entree, a few side choices, a dessert and beverages. Consider your guests’ allergies and food preferences, and make sure there’s something each person can or will eat. Or, ask them to bring their own meal. Parents of picky kids might be happy to pack a few PB&Js for their little ones. If you’re serving alcohol, make sure you also have a non-alcoholic option, such as water, juice or soda.
Today, you can catch Katie’s picnic packing list over on Twin Stripe. Here’s what’s on the agenda for the rest of the week. Be sure to follow along all week both here at Feast + West and on Twin Stripe!