You want to know what I love the most about a picnic date? It’s simplicity.
There is great beauty in simplicity, and when you’ve spent days carting kids from one activity to another, hours cleaning the house (only to watch it become destroyed again in a matter of moments), punched the clock for 40+ hours, listened to your kiddos’ rendition of “Let It Go” for the uptienth-billion time, and stepped on the un-holy torture devices, known as Legos, for what you swear will be the last time- screaming out the empty threat of throwing them all in the trash; a blanket under a tree, shading you from the summer sun with the company of your spouse/partner/love- well, it just sounds like paradise!
Planning even a seemingly uncomplicated picnic date can be overwhelming to those of us who, most of the time, have a hard time even making it in to the shower. So, as a fellow parent, I devised a way to make as straightforward, and as stress-free, as possible. Below is a “recipe”, complete with “ingredients” and “directions”, to make for an enjoyable picnic date. Just check the things off the list and before you know it, you’ll be ready to escape the stress of your everyday life, run away from the responsibilities that come along with adulthood, get lost in the great outdoors, and bask in the shear bliss of some quality adult time…even if it’s only for a couple of hours!
- You & Your Spouse/Partner/Babe/Love Muffin/Sugar Mama (whatever name you call that special someone)
- A Date & Time
- A picnic location- a local park with some shade trees is my go to
- A Blanket
- Picnic Basket with Food
- Wine (or your beverage of choice)
- A Game
- Choose a date and time that works for you and your significant other- don’t forget to check the weather! NOAA
- Pick your location. Most cities and towns have parks with green grass and shade trees, but be aware of possible playgrounds or other public events that may also be taking place. You can check with your local parks and recreation centers for this information. To limit the noise levels, I recommend selecting a location at the park as far away from any play structures as possible.
- Get rid of the kids, and by this, I mean schedule someone responsible to watch over your precious little ones, someone who won’t be calling you every 5 minutes to ask you questions about what they should be doing to care for your kiddos.
- Grab a blanket, one large enough to sprawl out on. Simple. Done.
- Picnic Basket. If you want to be really fancy and buy a basket, go ahead! Otherwise, any container that you can fit your food in will do…(a backpack, a shopping bag, even a small laundry basket- don’t let how you get your food from Point A to Point B trip you up)
- Food. What kind of food that goes into a picnic basket is definitely a personal preference. For my picnics I like to go with a “European-style” assortment:
- Crusty bread- you can either get all primal and tear it up with your hands, or, if you prefer to be more civilized- slice it up before you go, or pack a decent knife to slice it up during the picnic.
- Fig Jam- I love Dalmatia, it also happens to be one of the easiest ones to find
- Cured Meat- stop by your local deli and get several slices of 2-3 kinds, and if you’re not sure what you like, or want to try something new- ask them for a taste!
- Cheese. Make it special, swing by your local cheese store and pick up a couple of favorites, or ask for a couple of recommendations.
- Fruit. Nothing goes so well with cheese and cured meats like some fresh fruit- grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, cherries- the possibilities are endless, but remember, simplicity is the key- two should types should be plenty.
- Wine- doesn’t matter if it’s your old stand-by, or if you’re trying something new, just don’t forget the bottle opener and cups! (there is no shame in drinking wine from a plastic cup. None. At. All.)
- Add a little bit of competition to your date! Bring along a game that the two of you enjoy! Bocce ball, croquet, a deck of cards, Battleship, Cornhole, Connect Four, Uno…you get the idea. Something fun and easy to get from your home to the picnic.
- Other things you might find handy- plates, cups, forks, napkins, and a small cutting board- to put the cheeses on. I raid the “kid” drawer in the kitchen for plates/cups/forks- small, plastic and easy to transport, they are the perfect picnic size. Plus, you aren’t wasting money on picnicware that you may only use a few times a year…added bonus- you’re saving the planet by not using disposable plates/cups/utensils- go you!
The night before your picnic date, gather those things needed for steps 4-8, and do any food prep. About an hour before scheduled Picnic, pack up items- remember to add an ice pack for any items that may require it; and you’re off!
I love to cook, and the most amazing thing about cooking, for me, is the ability to make a recipe my own. So, take a look at it- use what you love, and substitute any of the ingredients to fit your taste. Keep in mind, that the beauty of this recipe is in it’s simplicity, so, RELAX, have FUN, make it your own, let go of expectations (seriously, how many of you flashback to Elsa belting out that little ditty of her’s every time you read/see the words “let” and “go” together?), and most importantly, ENJOY each other’s company.