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The Perfect Picnic

Picnics are one of summer’s simplest, yet greatest pleasures – Especially here in sunny Central Florida. Whether you pack up a meal and head to the beach or a park, or you set up a picnic in your own backyard, enjoy the carefree time spent with loved ones.

So you’ve decided you’re going on a picnic. First things first, it’s time to plan your menu. Choose casual food items that can be made beforehand. A good idea is to think of foods that you can eat without utensils such as a hearty sandwich or wrap, hummus with veggies or pita bread, and fresh fruit. Get the kids involved with picnic prep by asking them to pack the veggies and fruit or letting them pick what you will serve for dessert.

Pasta salads are another tasty menu option — just don’t forget the utensils if you go this route. It’s best to prepare pasta salads, or any type of salad for that matter, with a vinaigrette or other oil-based dressing instead of a mayonnaise or cream base to avoid food safety issues with the Florida heat.

Once you have your menu set, it’s time to pack. Knowing how to pack your picnic basket can make a real difference. Make sure to place your food items in lightweight, plastic containers that are easily stackable. Start by packing re-freezable ice packs or frozen bottles of water at the bottom of the basket. Then start layering your containers with the food you will be eating first at the top for easy access (desserts at the bottom) as well as to ensure the items you will be eating later remain cool.

Lightweight, stackable dishes are easy to pack at the top of the picnic basket. Also, place utensils and napkins inside your cups before packing them into an empty corner of the basket to save space. Don’t forget hand wipes or paper towels to wash off the mess that those finger foods may leave behind. You also want to leave your outdoors picnic area just as beautiful and clean as it was when you got there, so don’t forget to bring cleanup gear. A simple trash bag to get rid of your garbage will work just fine.

And who could forget the blanket? It is, after all, an essential item to the art of picnicking. A lightweight blanket that is easy to fold and carry is ideal, but make sure it’s big enough to fit all your picnic goers and your basket. A brightly colored blanket is an added bonus that not only adds some personal style and fun to your picnic, but it makes it easy for people to find you if you’re in a crowded, popular picnic spot.

Next time you feel like eating outside, pack a picnic with the family and enjoy one of summer’s greatest pleasures.

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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