We had the opportunity this past weekend (including a Thursday night concert in the park – lots of dancing) to pack a picnic lunch on maybe three different occasions. Man oh man I love picnics. It made me realize that there are certain foods that I always keep on hand (well, almost always) for such awesome, spontaneous moments where eating outdoors is part of the adventure.
We ended up food trucking our dinner Thursday night and packing easy sandwiches and carrot sticks on Sunday for the beach. Seven out of 10 times though we usually assemble finger foods from our fridge that are sort of special picnic snacks and pack them up in a reusable shopping bag or backpack.
I love, LOVE picnics. Or maybe actually it’s the reason that we need to pack one. Eating outdoors on a towel or blanket means that we’re on a hike, playing at a park, walking the zoo, listening at an outdoor music venue, watching a movie under the stars, relaxing at the beach… we’re having a fun, out-of-the-house family day.
Special picnic foods might be fresh sliced fruits, handmade tapenedes, hummus, sweet or pickled veggies… plus foods that we almost always have stocked in the fridge:
1 | Heirloom tomatoes (love, love these with salt, they come in our csa box and I really look forward to their arrival.)
2 | Balsamic vinegar & mozzarella (because they pair so perfectly with tomatoes! Instant gourmet caprese salad. I should have included a handful of basil leaves from the garden in the above photo because in our house those four ingredients are regularly stacked in tupperware and poked with toothpicks for eating on the go.)
3 | Salad-of-the-week (leftovers from whatever we were munching on that week – potato, pasta, artichoke spinach… equally yummy when picked up from the deli down the street.)
4 | Cheese! (I really dig having lots of cheeses on hand for a spontaneous appetizer hour – really yummy while cooking dinner solo or with friends – so you can usually find brie or chèvre or something of the stinky variety in our cheese drawer. Also perfect for a picnic.)
5 | Liv is obsessed with salami. Don’t know what it is but it’s her go-to sandwich and snack, and she’d eat the entire package if no one was looking. We love it with french bread and swiss cheese, mmm.
6 | A loaf of french or sourdough bread (best picked up that morning) for soaking up caprese goodness or layering with sandwich fixings.
We don’t pack a separate lunch for the girls, they treat the above picnic menu like a buffet and choose what they want that day. Summer is awesome here in San Diego, sometimes it starts early in the spring and doesn’t end until well into the fall! That is, the warm evenings part of summer :). Picnics are sort of the ultimate summer activity for me…