Finally (yes, finally) we are getting nice weather.
School is almost over.
It’s the best time to enjoy the great outdoor.
And it is always fun to eat outside. No need to make it big and expensive but you can have a good time on the beach in your neighborhood or even in your back yard.
Here are some tips and ideas to make your picnic snack less work but more fun and healthy.
Keep it Simple
Why you want to create more work?
The less plates and cutlery each person needs, the better. Reduce the waste, minimize the garbage. You have much less to carry and bring back home.
Avoid the foods that:
- require knives (e.g. stake)
- spills/is messy (e.g. spaghetti tomato sauce)
- melts (e.g. chocolate trifle)
- is easy to deform (e.g. cupcake with delicate icing on the top)
- smell (e.g. Kimchi unless everyone is a big fan of it…)
- contaminates everything on the plate with the flavor (e.g. a dish with runny sauce)
Tend to pack a bag of potato chips and a box of store bought cookies?
But do you really need to pack them?
Often we pack items habitually.
But what if you intentionally break the habit? You are going to be outside, not near a store. It may be an interesting experiment to drop 2 less healthy snacks and replace with a healthier option such as an apple or banana.
In conjunction with the first tips “Keep it Simple”, give a thought what you usually pack and why.
If a bag of chips means a lot for you as a special treat for a special occasion, no problem! That will be your conscious choice.
But if being outside and spending time with your family is more important than having chips, dropping it from the list may not be such a big deal.
Bento （弁当）is a traditional way to pack lunch in Japan.
It is extremely convenient if you have young children with you. Simply give them a box each and everything is there!
You can use mason jars, too, for a convenient portioning.
Keep the dressing on the bottom to prevent the greens get wilted and soggy. Mix in the jar just before eating.
The last thing you want is food poisoning from the food you had at a picnic.
These are the things you should keep in mind to reduce the risk of trouble.
- Basic hygiene – wash your hand when you prepare food and use clean, dry container to pack.
- Don’t pack leftovers
- Use ingredients that have preservation effect (e.g. vinegar, salt, lemon juice)
- Choose less perishable food items
= dry, high in vinegar/salt, cool, etc (e.g. cookies, vinaigrette salad)
- Avoid more perishable food items
= perishable animal products, low salt/sugar/acid, hot/warm when packed (e.g. fresh seafood, cream)
- Keep cold food cold with ice/ice packs in a cooler box
- If pack freshly cooked hot/warm food, store separately from cool foods and eat it in 2 hours
- Keep it in shade
- Handle with clean hands/utensils
It’s a good idea to freeze some of your drink (water, lemonade, etc) partially and then pack it with other food.
If you make cookies and muffins ahead of time and freeze, it is not only convenient to pack at the day of but also helps keep things cool. Take the frozen bakery out of the cooler a bit before serving.
Don’t Try to be Perfect!
After all, I think the most important thing is you enjoy the picnic.
Yes, usually I am blagging about healthy eating but don’t go too crazy about:
- eating less salt and sugar
- no animal product
- no process food/making everything from scratch
- more vegetables
- more protein
- and so on…
Make it simple and safe. It’s the day for picnic, spend the time more outside than kitchen. Enjoy the fresh air, warm sunshine and the time with your loved ones.