Hurray for summertime! I am so excited– this is the most wonderful season of all, as far as I’m concerned. I love spending as much time outdoors as possible, and the thing I love the most about these warmer months is eating outside. It wasn’t until we moved here that we actually put together a picnic kit. And it was revolutionary. By having a few things all together and ready in one place, we have been able to enjoy meals in so many places, with minimal effort and preparation. If you don’t have one, I am here to help.
I have never really cared for the pre-made picnic kits that people like to buy newlyweds. I like choosing my own stuff– things that work for the way I like to eat.
First of all, you need a good basket that’s easy to carry. I bought one in Belgium that also hooks onto a bike like a bike basket– so clever! I like the classic look of this one, and the straps look sturdy and easier to carry than ours. It’s also deep, so there should be enough room for a couple glass containers and a bottle of wine. (Here’s another strong, lightweight option.)
And speaking of wine… I hate drinking out of plastic cups. But for a picnic kit, you need something virtually unbreakable. And that is one of the reasons I love picardie glasses. They are so versatile, and extremely durable. We have had our set for two and half years, and none have broken, even after being jostled and banged around a ton. They’re great for serving any kind of drink, too.
While I love glass and ceramics, that is just not practical for plates, which are so much more likely to crack in a picnic basket. We have a cute set of melamine plates. Here are a couple of designs that I like. Be sure to get a couple extra for serving platters, or for guests. I love classic designs, like these white square plates. These blue ones are really fun and cheerful, with a different sort of classic look. Of course, enamelware is also a great option.
Now, cutlery… We don’t usually need much more than a fork. We mostly make finger foods and keep a good knife for slicing fruit, cheese and salami. That said, I really, really dislike eating with plastic utensils. So a set of real forks is a great idea. I love these ones. So cheerful– and well-made, too.And of course, you need a good knife. This one is great. It folds up so you won’t stab yourself digging around in the picnic basket, and you can take it in your pocket if you need to.
A cutting board is an extremely practical item to add to your picnic kit. We have some small ones we picked up as souvenirs in Italy. I love this one, and think the size is perfect.
Of course, you need cloth napkins. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a beautiful setting, eating spatchcock roasted chicken with your hands, and not having anything to wipe your fingers on. And I don’t like creating trash with every meal by using paper. I just pack our oldest napkins into our picnic basket, so I don’t have to worry about losing one accidentally. But these are fun, too!
Lastly… Something that doesn’t go in the picnic basket, but that you’ll need, is a picnic blanket. We like to use a hardy wool blanket— they are water resistant, super durable, and look good. Cute plaid ones are easy to find here in the UK.
And there you have it! Keeping a picnic kit in the back of the car has been pretty awesome. We can stop at a deli, grab some olives, cured meats, cheese and apples, and then go have a really nice meal anywhere we like. It definitely came in handy a few times when we were taking the ferry from France back over to England, and missed the boat, and had to dig into our French groceries while we waited three hours for the next ferry. We use ours all the time!
I’ll close here with some of my favorite picnic recipes.
- We love to have some home-cured ham on hand in the summertime! It’s so perfect for picnics.
- Pastrami is also fantastic, of course.
- For Father’s Day, I made a Spatchcock Roasted Chicken to take on our picnic.
- Babaganoush is perfect with sliced veggies.
- Cooked kebabs are a great picnic food– we love Chelo Kebab and Greek Garlic & Herb Lamb Kebabs
- Don’t forget about drinks! Homemade sodas are wonderful: Rhubarb & Honey, Blackberry, Elderflower
- Sangria is ideal for picnics, too.
Here’s to a summer full of great meals in beautiful places, with people you love!