Last week Robin and I celebrated our third year of marriage – I can’t believe how quickly time has flown! Our anniversary fell during the week and so we decided to celebrate with a picnic on the weekend, canoeing, and a movie (we saw Valerian and it was really good!). Since you can clearly see what we had to eat, I’ll give you the tips I use whenever I plan a picnic to ensure a variety of delicious, seasonal foods, delightfully refreshing drinks, how to keep bugs away and be comfortable, and more!
Packing a beautiful and exciting picnic can be done in under 30 minutes, you just have to plan properly! I always make a list of what I want to pack and ensure that that list includes a few drinks, finger foods, fruits and vegetables, a main dish, breads, silverware, a blanket, picnic basket, bug repellant, and napkins! Always check the weather for the day you want to have your picnic and aim for a day that won’t see any rain & be sure to plan where you’re going to have your picnic ahead of time. We had a bit of difficulty finding somewhere this weekend because some of the parks we stopped at wouldn’t allow glass containers or alcohol, which meant we couldn’t drink the champagne we brought along with us, nor could we use our glass dishes we’d brought along, which would have made for a very boring picnic. Thankfully we found a beautiful, quiet park near a river that ended up being the perfect setting! I brought along a hearty amount of rosemary to keep ticks and mosquitos away from us and our food, and it worked really well! If you don’t have fresh rosemary on hand, consider setting up a bug light a meter or two from your picnic, or lighting citronella candles. We always do whatever we can to avoid using potentially toxic bug repellant sprays, especially near food, and I was very pleased with the results of using rosemary. I like to set out a dish of glucose syrup about 2 meters away from our picnics to draw bugs to that instead of us, which works especially well in areas with lots of wasps or ants. When using a nice picnic blanket, especially a nicer one, I put a thick blanket underneath (after ensuring that the ground isn’t damp) which not only helps keep the blanket clean, but also makes it more comfortable for us. We’ve even put tarps down under our blankets to stay dry!
I’m always sure to bring a few different drinks ( I brought a homemade fruit infused peach tea mix that we added champagne to for a refreshing celebratory drink), along with water and blood orange soda, so that everyone can have a drink they enjoy. Other great picnic options are margaritas, green or white iced teas, sparkling water or seltzer waters, fruit juices and milk teas. When we lived in Ann Arbor, we’d snag bubble teas before heading to a nearby park for our picnics, and it was always such a delicious drink which made for an even more enjoyable picnic. Finger foods are the easiest type of foods to eat, so anything such as cheese, fish spreads & crackers, fresh fruits (watermelon, grapes, apples, peaches, strawberries, pears, bananas and raspberries are my favorites!), crusty breads like the baguette above make for a simple yet elegant mini-sandwich base, and lady finger or cucumber sandwiches are also delicious and easy to eat during a picnic. In the mini rose gold lidded mason jars I packed gnocchi, garlic, rosemary, wheat sausage slices sautéed in vinegar reduction, sea salt, sautéed mushrooms & onions and asparagus tips for a hearty and filling “main”, which Robin loved. We brought along a small fruit tarts pictured above, and salads on a skewer. If you ask me, everything tastes better on a skewer!
I always make sure that we take away whatever we brought with us, and we opt for reusable glass containers and dishes, washable napkins, and silver utensils instead of the eco-damaging plastic and paper alternatives. When setting up a picnic, I love having different levels (I flipped over a seagrass basket and used a tiered serving dish and a silver platter to achieve this here), as it means there is more room to lounge about and it makes it more difficult for insects to crawl onto. You can shop some of my favorite picnic essentials below!