Picnic planning is essential really, whether it's for a moveable feast or just a spur of the moment snack - although admittedly not so important for the latter.
You can organise an impromptu alfresco meal fairly quickly by choosing a location and buying the food on the way!
Take advantage of local produce such as luscious fruit in a country market, a seafood stall in a coastal village, or bread, cheese and charcuterie from a deli you discover en route.
You can enjoy a delicious and spontaneous feast, however far you are from home, as long as you have a few essentials with you:
However, some outdoor meals need a tad more preparation and, although you probably don't want to spend hours in the kitchen, you might want to think more about the idea picnic menu as well as the best spot to enjoy the meal.
You should take along some ideas and/or equipment for picnic games and let the kids run wild and work off their energy without disturbing others.
Having a few things to hand will make any kind of picnic, impromptu or otherwise, much easier to plan. And, thankfully, picnic equipment and accessories have come a long way since the days of leaky thermos flasks and tin lunchboxes.
To help with inspiration, you might like to check out some of my ideas on these particular picnics:
Depending on the age of your children, you might like to involve them in the packing. I’m sure you’ll find they’re much happier helping you with picnic planning than cleaning their room!
Give each a specific task, such as finding the games to take – badminton, croquet etc., or collecting and packing the family’s swimming or sports gear.
To make picnic planning really easy, you could have a picnic hamper at the ready with all the necessary picnicware in it. There are some great picnic back-packs available these days too, which come complete with plates, plastic glasses, cutlery, bottle opener, and even napkins.
If you’re inviting others and you want to plan a picnic which is more of an outdoor party, then you’ll find it much easier if the picnic planning is done quite thoroughly in advance.
You’ll be less stressed and everyone present will enjoy themselves much more.
Make a List
To pack your party food with style, I suggest you don't limit yourself to plastic containers. Many foods will look much more elegant in shallow heavy dishes, covered with wrap.
Try and use two cars for transportation so that one can be used for tables, chairs etc. and the other for food. It is annoying to have to unpack everything to get the table at the bottom!
A tailgate or at least a hatch-back is best for dispensing a moveable feast and make sure you have removed any petrol/gas cans well in advance (not a good flavour enhancer!), cleaned it well (dog hairs and food are not a good mix!) and lined it with a large cloth or sheet.
Then pack the car in the right order, putting the last course in first and the first things you will need last. At the picnic, try and prevent eager helpers from unpacking the food for you. They can easily reduce your picnic planning to chaos! Quite unintentionally of course.
You will need to plan the neat clearing away of each course as well, so have baskets and bags ready for dirty dishes and left-over food. Clutter and chaos do not make a relaxed party atmosphere!