tips for the perfect picnic

Welcome to our ultimate collection of tips for the best picnic.

We’ve had three consecutive days of sunshine in the North West, and thus, I feel confident in proclaiming it to be officially SUMMER.

You might think me hasty, but summer in the North might only last a week, so it’s entirely possible that we’re already halfway to autumn.

Being Northern, and a veteran of many fleeting summers, Flea and I are speed picnic ninjas. We can pull together a picnic in under 10 minutes, should there be a spell of sunshine at the beach, woods or local park.

Truth be told, a good picnic doesn’t need to be fancy. The greatest picnic I ever had was in the desert in Israel. We trekked down a ravine and sat in the shade of the overhanging rocks at the bottom.

One of our hosts sliced up a cold watermelon, while another played the guitar. We ate fruit and drank water. Then we sang and danced, while the sun slowly set, and it was pretty much perfection. Not a wicker basket in sight.

Here are our top tips for a perfect picnic, to help you up your picnic game this summer. Spoiler: none of these tips involve making your own home-made sausage rolls.

 

Top Tips for the Perfect Picnic

 

The Perfect Picnic needs a Games Kit

During the summer months, we might only get a few hours of good weather so it’s essential we’re not having to rush home for supplies.

Being realistic, I have an 11-year-old. If I don’t plan entertainment, she’s going to spend the entire picnic with her face two inches from her phone. So my first tip for a perfect picnic is to always plan for something to do.

We keep a collapsible box in the boot of the car, for these moments. It contains a folding picnic blanket (this one is great and HUGE!), a football, a bunch of plastic cups (for games, not drinking) and two mini Nerf water guns. The essentials, then.

And of course, if we have a picnic near water there’s always the opportunity to go for a paddle!

Perfect Picnic Snacks

One of my favourite tips for the Perfect Picnic is taking food that needs minimal prep.

I’m not a big fan of spending a load of time preparing picnic food. I am perfectly happy to do a quick circuit of the supermarket’s prepared food section if it means spending more time on the beach. Of course, when you’re on a budget, that isn’t always an option. But even if I’m budgeting, I confess, I still cheat a little.

Rather than spending ages making sandwiches, I’ll pick up a baguette or some soft rolls, a chunk of cheese, some sliced ham – easy sandwiches on the go. Add in some fruit and a big bag of tortilla chips, and you’ve got yourself a picnic with zero prep.

Just don’t forget to take a knife along with you to cut stuff because you don’t want to know what happens when you slice cheese with a credit card. Although it CAN be done, even if it makes for some sticky transactions later in the day.

Our favourite picnic foods are: 

  • A baguette or bag of bread rolls (ideally the pre-sliced sort)
  • Sliced cheese or a triangle of Brie that can be easily pulled apart
  • Sliced ham or chicken
  • A big bag of tortilla chips with a pot of hummus
  • If you have time, you can chop and freeze bags of fruit like pineapple, grapes and blueberries, and throw them into a picnic bag as needed. They’ll act as a chiller for other foods in the bag, and you can eat them frozen if you just can’t wait for them to defrost (which Flea never can).

Frozen Water in Bottles

Here’s a picnic tip I picked up in California, where Americans take their beach picnics uber-seriously.

Freeze a couple of those small bottles of mineral water that have been 50% filled with water. Before you go out on your picnic, top up the bottle with regular water. The ice will act as a cooler, but you’ll have chilled water to drink while the ice is still melting. Trust me – this is a game-changer. Any plastic bottle will do.

 

Tips for the Perfect Picnic

Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen

The most important Tips for the Perfect Picnic are those that keep you safe in the sun. Northerners are fair folk. Basically, I only need to be exposed to direct sunlight for ten minutes before I start to burn. So I keep a small sunscreen in my handbag, and another one in the car.

It will always be Factor 50+, and make sure you check the stars on the back of the bottle to ensure your sunscreen has 5* rating to prevent harm from UVA rays.

Flea seems to have inherited some gene from her Dad that means she turns a lovely golden brown in the sun. Honestly, I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. No, really. THRILLED.

Do you have a fail-safe tip for a perfect picnic?