Tips and Tricks
The most difficult
task of a picnic is remembering everything. Make
a list on the computer of everything you might need
for a picnic. Then as you pack, check off the items
that you really need. Save the list for the next picnic
or camping trip. When you return, add items that you
wished you had taken. Eventually, you'll have the
perfect list for your family.
- Everyone likes to
lounge on a picnic blanket but sometimes the ground
is wet. Bring along a plastic tarp to put underneath
the blanket. The tarp will last many years if kept
out of the sunlight and can be hosed clean at home
- Pick your picnic spot strategically.
If mosquitoes are a problem, choose a higher, drier
spot that is in full sun and exposed to a breeze-mosquitoes
have trouble in the wind and don't like heat. On
the other hand, if staying warm is a problem, choose
a spot exposed to the sun and protected from cool
breezes. If it's hot, pick a spot that will be in
the cool of the shade in the hottest part of the
- Think safety. If you have kids along,
make sure there are no hazards nearby: busy roads,
deep water, or cliffs.
- Don't forget the tablecloth. Inexpensive
plastic coated ones make great picnic equipment,
especially with kids.
- Speaking of kids, don't forget paper
towels for those spills and cleaning wipes to cleanse
dirty hands and faces. Put a dry towel and a wet
washcloth on your list. Stick the wet washcloth
in a zip-type plastic bag.
- Bring plenty of liquids. Active kids
playing in the hot sun need to be reminded to drink.
Water is the best hydrator but consider juices and
slushes. Try mixing soda pop with juice-half juice
and half soda or try freezing punches or juices
to a slush to take along in the cooler.
- Include fruit in your picnic basket.
It keeps well, it's nourishing, and it's refreshing.
Often fruit satisfies a craving for something sweeter.
Add fruits and fruit pieces to green salads and
turkey or chicken salads.
- Bring along a cutting board and a
couple of good knives. You'll be surprised how often
you will use them. Cutting boards are especially
useful if you are without a picnic table. The hard
plastic types are great for picnics. For cleanup,
just stick the cutting board in the dishwasher when
you get home.
- Perishable foods must be kept cold.
Bacteria grow best above forty degrees, and it takes
plenty of ice in a cooler to keep foods below forty
degrees. Perishable foods should only be allowed
to remain above forty degrees for a couple of hours.
- Stick a first aid kit in the car and
leave it there all summer. If you have kids, chances
are you will need it. Likewise, keep sunscreen and
calamine lotion in the car.
- In the heat of the summer, be prepared
for a summer thunderstorm. Know the rules of lightning
safety. Be prepared to retreat to a place of shelter.
Waiting out a summer storm is much more pleasant
with a few good books or a game the family enjoys.
- If you are going into the mountains
or woods-or anywhere off the beaten track-be sure
that someone you trust knows where you are going
and when you plan to return. Remember that you may
not be able to use your cell phone in more remote
areas or in the mountains.
- Consider adding folding camp stools
to your arsenal. They are comfortable, inexpensive,
and compact. With these, you can stop anywhere and
have a comfortable picnic and even in the best park,
these beat a picnic bench.
- Include games and books. Frisbees
and balls work for the kids. A badminton set works
for adults. And it's nice to have a couple interesting
books along that you never find time to read at
Weaver -- having burnt food from Miami, Florida
to Point Barrow, Alaska -- is RTA's road food
expert. He has logged thousands of hours on the
roads, trails, and waterways of America including
many of Alaska's wilderness rivers and has consistently
been elected the trips' "chief cook and bottle
washer." Dennis is currently general manager
Prepared Pantry, a company in Rigby, Idaho,
that produces ready-to-eat meals and baking mixes
packaged in Mylar. Weatherproof, bug-proof, and
critter resistant, they're ideal for both roadtrips
and back woods camping. Dennis may be reached